Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 184, Issue 1–4, pp 141–155 | Cite as

Activated Carbon Produced from Waste Wood Pallets: Adsorption of Three Classes of Dyes

  • Daniel C. W. Tsang
  • Jing Hu
  • Mei Yi Liu
  • Weihua Zhang
  • Keith C. K. Lai
  • Irene M. C. LoEmail author


Activated carbon was derived from waste wood pallets in Hong Kong via phosphoric acid activation and applied to adsorption of basic dye (methylene blue), acid dyes (acid blue 25 and acid red 151), and reactive dye (reactive red 23). The results showed that respective adjustment in phosphoric acid concentration, impregnation ratio, activation temperature, and activation time could maximize the surface area and pore volume of activated carbon. An increase of impregnation ratio or activation temperature significantly influenced the pore size distribution by expanding the porous structure and creating more macropores than micropores. The characterization of the carbon surface chemistry using Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, however, revealed a decrease in the amount of several functional groups with increasing activation temperature. The physical properties (surface area and pore volume) of the wood waste-derived activated carbon (using 36% phosphoric acid with an impregnation ratio of 1.5 at an activation temperature of 550°C for 1.5 h) were comparable to those of commercial activated carbon (Calgon F400). The contrasting pH effects on the adsorption of different classes of dyes signified the importance of both electrostatic interaction and chemical adsorption, which correlated to pH-dependent dissociation of surface functional groups. It is noteworthy that the physical properties of activated carbon were insufficient to account for the observed dye adsorption behavior, whereas the surface chemistry of activated carbon and the nature and chemical structure of dyes were more important. The fast kinetics and high capacity of dye adsorption of wood waste-derived activated carbon suggest that production of activated carbon from different types of wood waste should merit further investigation.


Activated carbon Adsorption Dyes Phosphoric acid activation Wood waste 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the University Grants Council for Emerging High Impact Area (project no. HIA 04/04.EG03).


  1. Ahmedna, M., Marshall, W. E., & Rao, R. M. (2000). Production of granular activated carbons from select agricultural by-products and evaluation of their physical, chemical and adsorption properties. Bioresource Technology, 71, 113–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahn, S., Werner, D., Karapanagioti, H. K., McGlothlin, D. R., Zare, R. N., & Luthy, R. G. (2005). Phenanthrene and pyrene sorption and intraparticle diffusion in polyoxymethylene, coke, and activated carbon. Environmental Science & Technology, 39, 6516–6526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, S. J. (1996). Types of adsorbent materials. In G. McKay (Ed.), Use of adsorbents for the removal of pollutants from wastewater. Boca Raton: CRC.Google Scholar
  4. Banat, I. M., Nigam, P., Singh, D., & Marchant, R. (1996). Microbial decolorization of textile-dye-containing effluents: A review. Bioresource Technology, 58, 217–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bellamy, L. J. (1954). The infra-red spectra of complex molecules. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Benjamin, M. M. (2002). Adsorption reactions. Water Chemistry, 550–627, McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  7. Calgon Carbon Corporation (1999). Information bulletin: Activated carbon – What is it, how does it work. IB-1013–12/99.Google Scholar
  8. Corbridge, D. E. C. (1956). Infra-red analysis of phosphorous compounds. Journal of Applied Chemistry, 6, 456–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crittenden, J. C., Luft, P., Hand, D. W., Oravitz, J. L., Loper, S. W., & Arl, M. (1985). Prediction of multicomponent adsorption equilibria using ideal adsorbed solution theory. Environmental Science & Technology, 19, 1037–1043.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Daifullah, A. A. M., & Girgis, B. S. (1998). Removal of some substituted phenols by activated carbon obtained from agricultural waste. Water Research, 32, 1169–1177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Derbyshire, F., Jagtoyen, M., Andrews, R., Rao, A., Martin-Gullon, I., & Grulke, E. (2001). Carbon materials in environmental applications. In L. R. Radovic (Ed.), Chemistry and physics of carbon, 27 (pp 1–66). New York: Marcel Dekker.Google Scholar
  12. Diao, Y., Walawender, W. P., & Fan, L. T. (2002). Activated carbons prepared from phosphoric acid activation of grain sorghum. Bioresource Technology, 81, 45–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diaz-Diez, M. A., Gomez-Serrano, V., Gonzalez, C. F., Cuerda-Correa, E. M., & Macias-Garcia, A. (2004). Porous texture of activated carbons prepared by phosphoric acid activation of woods. Applied Surface Science, 238, 309–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dogan, M., Alkan, M., Turkylmaz, A., & Ozdemir, Y. (2004). Kinetics and mechanism of removal of methylene blue by adsorption onto perlite. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 109, 141–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Environment, Transport and Works Bureau (ETWB) (2003). Environment Hong Kong 2003 – Waste – Resource Materials and Decision Time, HKSAR, China.Google Scholar
  16. Faria, P. C. C., Orfao, J. J. M., & Pereira, M. F. R. (2004). Adsorption of anionic and cationic dyes on activated carbons with different surface chemistries. Water Research, 38, 2043–2052.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Frank, P. V. D. Z. (2002). Anaerobic azo dye reduction. PhD Dissertation, Wagenlingen University, Wageningen, Netherlands.Google Scholar
  18. Gergova, K., & Eser, S. (1996). Effects of activation method on the pore structure of activated carbons from apricot stones. Carbon, 34, 879–888.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ho, Y. S., Ng, J. C. Y., & McKay, G. (2000). Kinetics of pollutant sorption by biosorbents: Review. Separation and Purification Methods, 29, 189–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department (HKEPD) (2005). Monitoring of solid waste in Hong Kong. Waste Statistics for 2005, HKSAR, China.Google Scholar
  21. Huang, L., Boving, T. B., & Xing, B. (2006). Sorption of PAHs by aspen wood fibers as affected by chemical alterations. Environmental Science & Technology, 40, 3279–3284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jain, A. K., Gupta, V. K., Bhatnagar, A., & Suhas, S. (2003). Utilization of industrial waste products as adsorbents for the removal of dyes. Journal of Hazardous Materials, B101, 31–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Juang, R. S., Wu, F. C., & Tseng R. L. (2000). Mechanism of adsorption of dyes and phenols from water using activated carbons prepared from plum kernels. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 277, 437–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kacha, S., Derriche, Z., & Elmaleh, S. (2003). Equilibrium and kinetics of color removal from dye solutions with bentonite and polyaluminum hydroxide. Water Environment Research, 75, 15–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kennedy, J., Mohan, das. K., & Sekaran, G. (2004). Integrated biological and catalytic oxidation of organics/inorganics in tannery wastewater by rice husk based mesoporous activated carbon––Bacillus sp. Carbon, 42, 2399–2407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Khraisheh, M. A. M., Al-degs, Y. S., Allen, S. J., & Ahmad, M. N. (2002). Elucidation of controlling steps of reactive dye adsorption on activated carbon. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 41, 1651–1657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Li, Q., Snoeyink, V. L., Marinas, B. J., & Campos, C. (2003). Pore blockage effect of NOM on atrazine adsorption kinetics of PAC: The roles of PAC pore size distribution and NOM molecular weight. Water Research, 37, 4863–4872.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Macias-Garcia, A., Diaz-Diez, M. A., Gomez-Serrano, V., & Fernandez-Gonzalez, M. C. (2003). Technical note preparation and characterization of activated carbons made up from different woods by chemical activation with H3PO4. Smart Materials and Structures, 12, 24–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Marsh, H. (2001). Activated carbon compendium: A collection of papers from the journal carbon 1996–2000. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  30. Millward, R. N., Bridges, T. S., Ghosh, U., Zimmerman, J. R., & Luthy, R. G. (2005). Addition of activated carbon to sediments to reduce PCB bioaccumulation by polycheate (Neanthes arenaceodentata) and an amphipod (Leptocheirus plumulosus). Environmental Science & Technology, 39, 2880–2887.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moreno-Castilla, C. (2004). Adsorption of organic molecules from aqueous solutions on carbon materials. Carbon, 42, 83–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nagano, H., Tamon, T., Adzumi, K. N., & Suzuki, T. (2000). Activated carbon from municipal waste. Carbon, 38, 915–920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nakagawa, K., Namba, A., Mukai, S. R., Tamon, H., Ariyadejwanich, P., & Tanthapanichakoon, W. (2004). Activated carbon form municipal waste. Water Research, 38, 1791–1798.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. O’Neill, C., Hawkes, F. R., Hawkes, D. L., Lourenco, N. D., Pinheiro, H. M., & Delee, W. (1999). Colour in textile effluents – Sources, measurement, discharge consents and simulation: A review. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 74, 1009–1018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Monteiro, Jr., O. A. C., & Airoldi C. (1999). Some thermodynamic data on copper–chitin and copper–chitosan biopolymer interactions. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 212, 212–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pelekani, C., & Snoeyink, V. L. (1999). Competitive adsorption in natural water: Role of activated carbon pore size. Water Research, 33, 1209–1219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pelekani, C., & Snoeyink, V. L. (2001). A kinetic and equilibrium study of competitive adsorption between atrazine and Congo red dye on activated carbon: The importance of pore size distribution. Carbon, 39, 25–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pereira, M. F. R., Soares, S. F., Orfao, J. J. M., & Figueiredo, J. L. (2003). Adsorption of dyes on activated carbons: Influence of surface chemical groups. Carbon, 41, 811–821.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Philip, C. A., & Girgis, B. S. (1996). Adsorption characteristics of microporous carbons from apricot stones activated by phosphoric acid. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 67, 248–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Randtke, S. J., & Snoeyink, V. L. (1983). Evaluating GAC adsorptive capacity. Journal of the American Water Works Association, 75, 406–413.Google Scholar
  41. Robinson, T., McMullan, G., Marchant, R., & Nigam, P. (2001). Remediation of dyes in textile effluent: A critical review on current treatment technologies with a proposed alternative. Bioresource Technology, 77, 247–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rozada, M., Otero, J. B., Parra, A. M., & García, A. I. (2005). Producing adsorbents from sewage sludge and discarded tyres: Characterization and utilization for the removal of pollutants from water. Chemical Engineering Journal, 114, 161–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Senthilkumaar, S., Kalaamani, P., Porkodi, K., Varadarajan, P. R., & Subburaam, C. V. (2006). Adsorption of dissolved Reactive red dye from aqueous phase onto activated carbon prepared from agricultural waste. Bioresource Technology, 97, 1618–1625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Socrates, G. (1994). Infrared characteristic group frequencies. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  45. Sparks, D. L. (1999). Soil physical chemistry (2nd ed.). New York: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  46. Sparks, D. L. (2003). Environmental soil chemistry (2nd ed.). Amsterdam: Academic.Google Scholar
  47. Tanthapanichakoon, W., Ariyadejwanich, P., Jathong, P., Nakagawa, K., Mukai, S. R., & Tamon, H. (2005). Adsorption–desorption characteristics of phenol and reactive dyes from aqueous solution on mesoporous activated carbon prepared from waste tires. Water Research, 39, 1347–1353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Toles, C. A., Marshall, W. E., & Johns, M. M. (1998). Phosphoric acid activation of nutshells for metals and organic remediation: Process optimization. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 72, 255–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Toles, C. A., Marshall, W. E., & Johns, M. M. (1999). Surface functional groups on acid-activated nutshell carbons. Carbon, 37, 1207–1214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Vandevivere, P. C., bianchi, R., Verstraete, W. (1998). Treatment and reuse of wastewater from the textile wet-processing industry: Review of emerging technologies. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 72, 289–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Weber, W. J., Jr., & Smith, E. H. (1987). Simulation and design models for adsorption processes. Environmental Science & Technology, 21, 1040–1050.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Werner, D., Higgins, C. P., & Luthy, R. G. (2005). The sequestration of PCBs in Lake Hartwell sediment with activated carbon. Water Research, 39, 2105–2113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wong, Y. C., Szeto, Y. S., Cheung, W. H., & McKay, G. (2003). Equilibrium studies for acid dye adsorption onto chitosan. Langmuir, 19, 7888–7894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhang, F. S., Nriagu, J. O., & Itoh, H. (2005). Mercury removal from water using activated carbons derived from organic sewage sludge. Water Research, 39, 389–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zimmerman, J. R., Ghosh, U., Millward, R. N., Bridges, T. S., & Luthy, R. G. (2004). Addition of carbon sorbents to reduce PCB and PAH bioavailability in marine sediments: Physicochemical tests. Bioresource Technology, 38, 5458–5464.Google Scholar
  56. Zimmerman, J. R., Werner, D., Ghosh, U., Millward, R. N., Bridges, T. S., & Luthy, R. G. (2005). Effects of dose and particle size on activated carbon treatment to sequester polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in marine sediments. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 24, 1594–1601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel C. W. Tsang
    • 1
  • Jing Hu
    • 1
  • Mei Yi Liu
    • 1
  • Weihua Zhang
    • 2
  • Keith C. K. Lai
    • 3
  • Irene M. C. Lo
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for the EnvironmentThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyKowloonHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Environmental EngineeringSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Department of Civil Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department – EWREThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyKowloonHong Kong

Personalised recommendations