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Preparation of activated carbon cloths from renewable natural fabrics and their performance during the adsorption of model organic and inorganic pollutants in water

Nieto-Delgado, Cesar, Partida-Gutierrez, Dulce, Rangel-Mendez, J. Rene
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.213 pp. 650-658
Agave fourcroydes, activated carbon, adsorption, cadmium, carbon dioxide, fabrics, jute, methylene blue, moieties, phenol, physicochemical properties, pollutants, porosity, porous media, scanning electron microscopy, steam, surface area, water treatment
This research proposes two threated natural fibers (jute and henequen) as precursor alternative for the production of activated carbon cloth, and evaluates their performance for water treatment. Three activation methods were explored: physical by using carbon dioxide or steam; and chemical with zinc chloride. The materials were characterized by elemental analysis, pore structure, scanning electron microscopy and surface chemistry. To explore their potential application in water treatment, we evaluate the adsorption properties of the activated carbon cloths towards molecules with different physicochemical characteristics: phenol, methylene blue, and cadmium. The pore structure of the activated carbon cloths changes with the activation method: chemical activation generates microporous materials, while physical activation develops porosity in the micro and low mesopore range. The surface area of samples ranged from 480 to 1200 m2/g and a surface chemistry from neutral to acidic, with acid functional groups between 0.03 and 0.35 meq/g. Pore size distribution and surface chemistry had great influence in the adsorption capacity of the activated carbon cloths: microporous carbons were suitable to adsorb micropollutants such as phenol and cadmium, while methylene blue was adsorbed better in mesoporous activated carbon cloths. The activated carbon cloths with the higher amount of acid functionalities exhibited a higher adsorption capacity for cadmium than activated carbon cloths with a pristine surface. According to these results, jute and henequen are suitable for activated carbon cloths production, offering a green alternative to synthetic precursors.