A novel effective adsorbent of alumina/silica oxide hydrate (ASOH) for arsenic removal was developed through simple chemical reactions using coal fly ash. The iron-modified ASOH with enhancing adsorption activity was further developed from raw fly ash based on the in situ technique. The adsorbents were characterized by X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectrometry, scanning electron micrograph, laser particle size and Brunauer–Emmet–Teller surface area. The results show that the adsorbents are in amorphous and porous structure, the surface areas of which are 8–12 times that of the raw ash. The acidic hydrothermal treatment acts an important role in the formation of the amorphous structure of ASOH rather than zeolite crystal. A series of adsorption experiments for arsenic on them were studied. ASOH can achieve a high removal efficiency for arsenic of 96.4% from water, which is more than 2.5 times that of the raw ash. Iron-modified ASOH can enhance the removal efficiency to reach 99.8% due to the in situ loading of iron (Fe). The condition of synthesis pH = 2–4 is better for iron-modified ASOH to adsorb arsenic from water.
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