Radioactive cesium was resealed to the environment as a result of many nuclear incidents. An effective treatment system is urgently needed to safely handle radioactive cesium-contaminated waters. Based on nanoscale zerovalent iron (nZVI) and zeolite, nine adsorbents were synthesized and applied to remove cesium from aqueous solutions. Magnetic zeolite composite (Ze/Fe0) was selected as the ideal adsorbent for treating cesium contaminated waters in a lab-scale continuous treatment system (LSCTS). The optimization process of the (Ze/Fe0) composite revealed that 1:1 is the optimum mass ratio between zeolite and nZVI. Furthermore, the optimization process proved that the initial pH and temperature have no significant effect on the adsorption of cesium by (Ze/Fe0) composite and the optimum dosage of (Ze/Fe0) composite is 5 g L−1. XRD and SEM results showed that the (Ze/Fe0) composite has an irregular shape with a poor crystalline structure. Kinetic and equilibrium data were best described by pseudo second order and Freundlich isotherm models. Seawater and groundwater experiments illustrated that the removal of cesium by (Ze/Fe0) composite was inhibited due to the existence of competing cations. Eight cycles of LSCTS were performed to examine the performance of (Ze/Fe0) composite in treating continuous streams of cesium contaminated waters. In all cycles except the cycle of treating contaminated seawater, LSCTS succeed to treat continuous flows of 1 mg L−1 cesium contaminated water with 100% overall removal efficiency. For treating contaminated seawater, pre-treatment unit is required to reduce the salinity of the contaminated seawater before staring the treatment process.
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