Birnessite (δ-Mn(IV)O2) is a great manganese (Mn) adsorbent for dissolved divalent metals. In this study, we investigated the coprecipitation mechanism of δ-MnO2 in the presence of Zn(II) and an oxidizing agent (sodium hypochlorite) under two neutral pH values (6.0 and 7.5). The mineralogical characteristics and Zn–Mn mixed products were compared with simple surface complexation by adsorption modeling and structural analysis. Batch coprecipitation experiments at different Zn/Mn molar ratios showed a Langmuir-type isotherm at pH 6.0, which was similar to the result of adsorption experiments at pH 6.0 and 7.5. X-ray diffraction and X-ray absorption fine structure analysis revealed triple-corner-sharing inner-sphere complexation on the vacant sites was the dominant Zn sorption mechanism on δ-MnO2 under these experimental conditions. A coprecipitation experiment at pH 6.0 produced some hetaerolite (ZnMn(III)2O4) and manganite (γ-Mn(III)OOH), but only at low Zn/Mn molar ratios (< 1). These secondary precipitates disappeared because of crystal dissolution at higher Zn/Mn molar ratios because they were thermodynamically unstable. Woodruffite (ZnMn(IV)3O7•2H2O) was produced in the coprecipitation experiment at pH 7.5 with a high Zn/Mn molar ratio of 5. This resulted in a Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET)-type sorption isotherm, in which formation was explained by transformation of the crystalline structure of δ-MnO2 to a tunnel structure. Our experiments demonstrate that abiotic coprecipitation reactions can induce Zn–Mn compound formation on the δ-MnO2 surface, and that the pH is an important controlling factor for the crystalline structures and thermodynamic stabilities.
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