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Adsorption of organic matter in oil sands process water (OSPW) by carbon xerogel

Benally, Chelsea, Messele, Selamawit Ashagre, Gamal El-Din, Mohamed
Water research 2019 v.154 pp. 402-411
adsorption, carbon, filtration, hydrogen, lakes, naphthenates, oil sands, organic matter, pH, porous media, surface area, toxicity, xerogels
This study illustrated the preparation, characterization and the use of carbon xerogel materials for the adsorption of acid-extractable fractions (AEF) and naphthenic acids (NAs) from oil sands process water (OSPW). Adsorption results demonstrated that the mesoporous carbonaceous material can successfully be used to adsorb persistent and toxic organic contaminants from OSPW. Carbon xerogel (CX) made at pH 5.5 showed high surface area (573 m2/g) and removed a larger amount of AEF than CX made at pH 6.9 (391 m2/g). The adsorption equilibrium was reached by 24 h for both AEF and classical NAs. 74.6% of AEF and 88.8% of classical NAs were removed by CX5.5 during 24-h adsorption. With respect to classical NAs, a larger the carbon number resulted in higher NA removal. Carbon number had more influence on NA removal when compared with hydrogen deficiency resulting from rings or unsaturated bonding formation (–Z number). The equilibrium adsorption capacity was found to be 15 mg AEF/g and 7.8 mg NAs/g for CX5.5. Adsorption of AEF and classical NAs onto CX5.5 followed pseudo-second order kinetics. With respect to diffusion of AEF and NAs, there were three distinct diffusion regions: bulk, film and pore. Pore diffusion had the lowest rate constant in all cases analyzed and was thus the rate limiting step. The results of this study showed that a mesoporous carbonaceous material such as CX may have the potential to be utilized in a fixed bed adsorption/filtration systems for continuous treatment of OSPW or as a semi-passive treatment method in pit lakes for the removal of organic constituents from OSPW.