Competitive adsorption of aqueous metal ions on an oxidized nanoporous activated carbon\

B Xiao, K M Thomas

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Competitive adsorption is the usual situation in real applications, and it is of critical importance in determining the overall performance of an adsorbent. In this study, the competitive adsorption characteristics of all the combinations of binary mixtures of aqueous metal ion species Ca2+(aq), Cd2+(aq), Pb2+(aq), and Hg2+(aq) on a functionalized activated carbon were investigated. The porous structure of the functionalized active carbon was characterized using N-2 (77 K) and CO2 (273 K) adsorption. The surface group characteristics were examined by temperature-programmed desorption, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, acid/base titrations, and measurement of the point of zero charge (pH(PZC)). The adsorption of aqueous metal ion species M2+(aq), on acidic oxygen functional group sites mainly involves an ion exchange mechanism. The ratios of protons displaced to the amount of M2+(aq) metal species adsorbed have a linear relationship for both single-ion and binary mixtures of these species. Hydrolysis of metal species in solution may affect the adsorption, and this is the case for adsorption of Hg2+(aq) and Pb2+(aq). Competitive adsorption decreases the amounts of individual metal ions adsorbed, but the maximum amounts adsorbed still follow the order Hg2+(aq) > Pb2+(aq) > Cd2+(aq) > Ca2+(aq) obtained for single metal ion adsorption. The adsorption isotherms for single metal ion species were used to develop a model for competitive adsorption in binary mixtures, involving exchange of ions in solution with surface proton sites and adsorbed metal ions, with the species having different accessibilities to the porous structure. The model was validated against the experimental data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4566-4578
Number of pages13
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2004

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