, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 251–266 | Cite as

Efficient adsorption of pharmaceutical drugs from aqueous solution using a mesoporous activated carbon

  • Tetiana HubetskaEmail author
  • Natalia Kobylinska
  • José R. García


The removal of widely used pharmaceuticals by new granular mesoporous activated carbon materials prepared via a simple one-step pyrolysis process was studied. The series of mesoporous carbons (MC) were derived from sucrose/polystyrene using two mesoporous matrices: MCM-48 and SBA-15 sieves. Two different activation schemes were used to obtained samples: steam-pyrolysis at 900 °C, and chemical modification (with HNO3, H2O2 and their mixture) at 200 °C. The studied conditions of chemical oxidation led to significant structural alterations. Compared to the activated carbon treated by steam at 900 °C, the treatment via chemical oxidation increased the total volume of pores from 1.09 to 2.73 cm3 g−1. The total adsorption capacity towards tetracycline was found to be proportional to the mesoporous volume and the amount of surface O-containing groups. From the experimental adsorption isotherms, the maximum adsorption capacity was calculated 909.2 mg g−1 for tetracycline at pH 7. The kinetics of adsorption fits the pseudo-second order model perfectly. The adsorption data treated by both Langmuir and Freundlich models indicates that the adsorption was monomolecular. This research provides insight into the adsorption behavior of antibiotics on non-activated and activated mesoporous carbonous materials and facilitates their application to removal of pharmaceuticals from contaminated aqueous solutions. The potential adsorption mechanism of mesoporous carbons for the adsorption of antibiotics was proposed. The granular mesoporous carbon after oxidation by mixture of HNO3 and H2O2 with ration 1:1 exhibited much higher adsorptive activity and still showed relatively high adsorption stability even after five cycles, which were potentially suitable for easy separation and high efficiency.


Granular ordered carbon Hydrothermal synthesis Chromatography Conductometric titration Regeneration Tetracycline antibiotics 



This study was supported by grants from EU FP-7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES (№ 247603). The University of Oviedo is grateful for financial support from Spain’s Ministry for the Economy and Business - MINECO (MAT2016-78155-C2-1-R).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary file1 (DOCX 1037 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Tetiana Hubetska
    • 1
    Email author
  • Natalia Kobylinska
    • 2
  • José R. García
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Organic and Inorganic ChemistryUniversity of Oviedo-CINNOviedoSpain
  2. 2.Department of Analytical ChemistryTaras Shevchenko National University of KyivKyivUkraine

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