Economic adsorbents in bead form were fabricated and utilised for the adsorption of Al3+ from aqueous solutions. Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) beads, PAN powder and the thermally treated PAN beads (250 ��C/48 h/Ar and 600 ��C/48 h/Ar-H2) were characterised using different techniques including Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, specific surface analysis (Brunauer-Emmett-Teller), thermogravimetric analysis as well as scanning electron microscopy. Effects of pH, contact time, kinetics and adsorption isotherms at different temperatures were investigated in batch mode experiments. Aluminium kinetic data best fit the Lagergren pseudo-second-order adsorption model indicating a one-step, surface-only, adsorption process with chemisorption being the rate limiting step. Equilibrium adsorption data followed a Langmuir adsorption model with fairly low monolayer adsorption capacities suitable for freshwater clean-up only. Various constants including thermodynamic constants were evaluated from the experimental results obtained at 20, 40 and 60 ��C. Positive values of ��H�� indicated that the adsorption of Al3+ onto all three adsorbents was endothermic with less energy input required for PAN powder compared to PAN beads and low-temperature thermally treated PAN. Negative ��G�� values indicated that the aluminium adsorption process was spontaneous for all adsorbents examined. �� 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.