Adsorption of Se (IV) and Se (VI) Using Copper-Impregnated Activated Carbon and Fly Ash-Extracted Char Carbon

  • Gautham B. JegadeesanEmail author
  • Kanchan Mondal
  • Shashi B. Lalvani


Surface and groundwater are often contaminated with toxic anions such as arsenic and selenium. Because of their large surface areas, selenium adsorption on carbon sorbents is considered an attractive water treatment technique. In this present work, selenium sorption on copper-impregnated activated carbon and fly ash-extracted char carbon was evaluated. Unburned carbon was extracted from fly ash using froth floatation techniques, and the carbon sorbents were modified using copper ions. Adsorption experiments confirmed the strong influence of electrostatic forces on equilibrium uptakes of selenite (Se (IV)) and selenate (Se (VI)). Selenium sorption on virgin char carbon was maximum only at acidic pH, i.e., at pH < pHpzc (pH at point of zero charge). Upon copper modification of the carbon surface, the pHpzc shifted towards the alkaline region, and as a result, the positive charge density on the carbon surface increased. At pH > pHpzc, a two- to fourfold increase in sorption coverage and threefold increase in selenium percent removal was observed. Se (IV) sorption was higher compared to Se (VI) sorption. The effect of selenium concentrations and competing anions was studied to evaluate adsorbent performance. The order of maximum surface coverage followed the order: modified char carbon > modified activated carbon > char carbon. The main mechanism of selenium (Se) sorption appeared to be (1) electrostatic attraction of the Se ions to the modified carbon surface at acidic to neutral pH; (2) complexation of Se ions with the copper ions/oxides on the carbon surface; and (3) co-precipitation with copper hydroxides at alkaline pH.


Activated carbon Char carbon Copper impregnation Selenium Adsorption 



The authors acknowledge the financial assistance and laboratory analysis provided by the Department of Water Resources, San Joaquin Valley, CA, for this research.


  1. Al-Othman, Z. A., Ali, R., & Naushad, M. (2012). Hexavalent chromium removal from aqueous medium by activated carbon prepared from peanut shell: adsorption kinetics, equilibrium and thermodynamic studies. Chemical Engineering Journal, 184, 238–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balistrieri, L. S., & Chao, T. T. (1990). Adsorption of selenium by amorphous iron oxyhydroxide and manganese dioxide. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 54(3), 739–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Biniak, S., Pakula, M., Szymanski, G. S., & Swiatkowski, A. (1999). Effect of activated carbon surface oxygen- and/or nitrogen-containing groups on adsorption of copper(II) ions from aqueous solution. Langmuir, 15, 6117–6122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boyle-Wight, E. J., Katz, L. E., & Hayes, K. F. (2002). Spectroscopic studies of the effects of selenate and selenite on cobalt sorption to γ-Al2O3. Environmental Science & Technology, 36(6), 1219–1225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. CH2M, Hill. (2010). Review of available technologies for the removal of selenium from water. Final Report, prepared for North American Metals Council (NAMC).Google Scholar
  6. Chammui, Y., Sooksamiti, P., Naksata, W., Thiansem, S., & Arqueropanyo, O. A. (2014). Removal of arsenic from aqueous solution by adsorption on Leonardite. Chemical Engineering Journal, 240, 202–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chang, Q. G., Lin, W., & Ying, W. C. (2010). Preparation of iron-impregnated granular activated carbon for arsenic removal from drinking water. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 184, 515–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Conde, J. E., & Sanz Alaejos, M. (1997). Selenium concentrations in natural and environmental waters. Chemical Reviews, 97, 1979–2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davis, S. A., & Misra, M. (1997). Transport model for the adsorption of oxyanions of selenium (IV) and arsenic (V) from water onto lanthanum- and aluminum-based oxides. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 188(2), 340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Devoy, J., Alain, W., & Jacques, B. (2002). Chemical mechanisms responsible for the immobilization of selenite species from an aqueous medium in the presence of copper(I) oxide particles. Langmuir, 18, 8472–8480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dixit, S., & Hering, J. G. (2003). Comparison of arsenic (V) and arsenic (III) sorption onto iron oxide minerals: implications for arsenic mobility. Environmental Science and Technology, 37, 4182–4189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hashim, M. A., Mukhopadhyay, S., Sahu, J. N., & Sengupta, B. (2011). Remediation technologies for heavy metal contaminated groundwater. Journal of Environmental Management, 92(10), 2355–2388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hayes, K., Roes, A., Brown, G., Hodgson, K., Leckie, J., & Parks, G. (1987). In situ X-ray absorption study of surface complexes: Se oxyanions on alpha FeOOH. Science, 238, 783–786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hoffman, D. J. (2002). Role of selenium toxicity and oxidative stress in aquatic birds. Aquatic Toxicology, 57(1–2), 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jegadeesan, G., Mondal, K., & Lalvani, S. B. (2003). Comparison of adsorption of selenite by carbon-based adsorbents and alumina. Environmental Technology, 24(8), 1049–1059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jegadeesan, G., Mondal, K., & Lalvani, S. B. (2005). Selenate removal from sulfate containing aqueous solutions. Environmental Technology, 26(10), 1181–1187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lalhmunsiama, L. S. M., & Tiwari, D. (2013). Manganese oxide immobilized activated carbons in the remediation of aqueous wastes contaminated with copper(II) and lead(II). Chemical Engineering Journal, 225, 128–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lemly, A. D. (1999). Selenium impacts on fish: an insidious time bomb. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 5(6), 1139–1151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lodeiro, P., Kwan, S. M., Perez, J. T., Gonzalez, L. F., Gerente, C., Andres, Y., & McKay, G. (2013). Novel Fe loaded activated carbons with tailored properties for As(V) removal: adsorption study correlated with carbon surface chemistry. Chemical Engineering Journal, 215, 105–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Manju, G. N., Raji, C., & Anirudhan, T. S. (1998). Evaluation of coconut husk carbon for the removal of arsenic from water. Water Research, 32(10), 3062–3070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mondal, K., Jegadeesan, G., & Lalvani, S. B. (2004). Removal of selenate by Fe and NiFe nanosized particles. Industrial Engineering and Chemistry Research, 43, 4922–4934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mondal, P., Balomajumder, C., & Mohanty, B. (2007). A laboratory study of arsenic, iron and manganese bearing ground water using Fe+3 impregnated activated carbon: effects of shaking time, pH and temperature. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 144(1–2), 420–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nieto-Delgado, C., & Rangel-Mendez, J. R. (2012). Anchorage of iron hydro(oxide) nanoparticles onto activated carbon to remove As(V) from water. Water Research, 46(9), 2973–2982.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Parida, K. M., Gorai, B., Das, N. N., & Rao, S. B. (1997). Studies on ferric oxide hydroxides: III. Adsorption of selenite (SeO2 3−) on different forms of iron oxyhydroxides. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 185(2), 355–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pattanayak, J., Mondal, K., Mathew, S., & Lalvani, S. B. (2000). A parametric evaluation of the removal of As (V) and As (III) by the carbon-based adsorbents. Carbon, 38, 589–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rajakovic, L. V. (1992). Sorption of arsenic onto activated carbon impregnated with metallic silver and copper. Separation Science and Technology, 27(11), 1423–1433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Reed, B. E., Vaughan, R., & Jiang, L. (2000). As (III), As (V), Hg, and Pb removal by Fe-oxide impregnated activated carbon. Journal of Environmental Engineering, 126(9), 869–873.Google Scholar
  28. Rossin, J. A., & Morrison, R. W. (1991). Spectroscopic analysis and performance of an experimental copper/zinc impregnated, activated carbon. Carbon, 29(7), 887–892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Su, C. M., & Suarez, D. L. (2000). Selenate and selenite sorption on iron oxides: an infrared and electrophoretic study. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 64(1), 101–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (1987). Ambient aquatic life water quality criteria for selenium. 1987. EPA 400/5-87-006. Springfield: National Technical Information Service.Google Scholar
  31. Ungureanu, G., Santos, S., Boaventura, R., & Botelho, C. (2015). Arsenic and antimony in water and wastewater: overview of removal techniques with special reference to latest advances in adsorption. Journal of Environmental Management, 151, 326–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wang, S., Boyjoo, Y., Choueib, A., Ng, E., Wu, H., & Zhu, Z. (2005). Role of unburnt carbon in adsorption of dyes on fly ash. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 80(10), 1204–1209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wasewar, K. L., Basheshwar, P., & Sekhararao, G. (2009). Removal of selenium by adsorption onto granular activated carbon (GAC) and powdered activated carbon (PAC). CLEAN–Soil, Air, Water, 37(11), 872–883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wijnja, H., & Schulthess, C. P. (2000). Vibrational spectroscopy study of selenate and sulfate adsorption mechanisms on Fe and Al (Hydr) oxide surfaces. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 229(1), 286–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhang, Q., Lin, Y. C., Chen, X., & Gao, N. Y. (2007). A method for preparing ferric activated carbon composites to remove arsenic from drinking water. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 148(3), 671–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhang, N., Lin, L.-S., & Gang, D. (2008). Adsorptive selenite removal from water using iron-coated GAC adsorbents. Water Research, 42(14), 3809–3816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, School of Chemical and BiotechnologySASTRA UniversityThanjavurIndia
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical Engineering and Energy ProcessSouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Paper and Chemical EngineeringMiami UniversityOxfordUSA

Personalised recommendations