, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 1263–1272 | Cite as

Adsorbent screening for biobutanol separation by adsorption: kinetics, isotherms and competitive effect of other compounds

  • N. Abdehagh
  • F. H. Tezel
  • J. ThibaultEmail author


Butanol, considered as one of the best renewable alternatives for gasoline, has attracted significant attention in recent years. However, biobutanol production via fermentation is plagued by the low final product concentration due to product inhibition. It is possible to enhance productivity by selectively removing biobutanol from the fermentation broth. Adsorption is one of the most promising and energy-efficient techniques for butanol separation and recovery. In the present study, different adsorbents were tested by performing kinetic and equilibrium experiments to find the best adsorbent for butanol separation. Activated carbon (AC) F-400 showed the fastest adsorption rate and the highest adsorption capacity amongst ACs and zeolites tested. AC F-400 also showed the highest affinity toward butanol and to a lesser extent for butyric acid whereas its adsorption capacity for the other main components present in acetone–butanol–ethanol fermentation broths was very low. In addition, the butanol adsorption capacity was not affected by the presence of ethanol, glucose and xylose while the presence of acetone led to a slight decrease in adsorption capacity at low butanol concentrations. On the other hand, the presence of acids (acetic acid and butyric acid) showed a significant effect on the butanol adsorption capacity over a wide range of butanol concentration and this effect was more pronounced for butyric acid.


Butanol adsorption Adsorbent screening Activated carbon Zeolites Kinetic and equilibrium experiments 

List of symbols


Equation constant (Eq. 2)


Langmuir constant, L/g


Butanol concentration at time t, g/L


Initial butanol concentration, g/L


Equilibrium butanol concentration in solution, g/L


Pseudo-second order Lagergren’s rate constant, g/g min


The amount of adsorbent used, g


Freundlich constant, (dimensionless)


Butanol adsorption capacity at time t, g/g


Butanol adsorption capacity at equilibrium state, g/g


Maximum butanol adsorption capacity, g/g


Time, min





Activated carbon


Net heat of combustion


Multi-walled carbon nano tube



The authors would like to thank University of Ottawa and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC0 for their financial contributions for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chemical and Biological Engineering DepartmentUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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