Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 229:366 | Cite as

Adsorption, Kinetics and Equilibrium Studies on Removal of Catechol and Resorcinol from Aqueous Solution Using Low-Cost Activated Carbon Prepared from Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) Seed Hull Residues

  • Ephraim VunainEmail author
  • Dégninou Houndedjihou
  • Maurice Monjerezi
  • Adolp Anga Muleja
  • BarthélémyTomkouani Kodom


This study reports on the feasibility of remediation of catechol- and resorcinol-contaminated water using low-cost sunflower seed hull activated carbon (SSHAC). Sunflower seed hull (SSH), an abundant agricultural waste in Malawi, was used as precursor to prepare highly porous activated carbon by physicochemical activation, with zinc chloride (ZnCl2) as an activating agent. The activated carbon was characterized by FTIR, SEM-EDS, XRD and BET analyses. In this work, pertinent parameters that affect the adsorption efficiency—pH, initial adsorbate concentration, contact time, adsorbent dosage, and solution temperature—were investigated in batch mode. At the same experimental conditions, more catechol was adsorbed than resorcinol may be due to the compound’s affinity towards water and the position of the hydroxyl group on the benzene ring. A maximum equilibrium adsorption of 271 and 250 mg/g was obtained at pH 9.0 and pH 8.0 for catechol and resorcinol, respectively. The adsorption behaviour of both adsorbates (catechol and resorcinol) on SSHAC can be well described by Langmuir isotherm model and pseudo-second-order kinetic model. The value ∆G, ∆S and ∆H indicated spontaneous and endothermic adsorption process. The adsorption process was readily reversible allowing reusability of the adsorbate. This study’s outcome is value addition to this category of wastes for environmental protection.


Sunflower seed hull Activated carbon Catechol Resorcinol Adsorption Kinetics 



This work was supported by the Department of Chemistry Research Fund, Chancellor College, University of Malawi. Many thanks to the Excellence Centers for Exchange and Development (EXCEED) programme, through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for an award of a three-month research grant. The authors would like to thank the University of South Africa, for the use of their SEM-EDX, Zetasizer and TGA instruments for characterization.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


  1. Abimbola, G., Zaman, Z., & Adeniyi, P. (2017). Equilibrium, kinetic, and thermodynamic studies of lead ion and zinc ion adsorption from aqueous solution onto activated carbon prepared from palm oil mill effluent. Journal of Cleaner Production, 148, 958–968.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adib, M., Al-Qodah, Z., & Ngah, C. W. Z. (2015). Agricultural bio-waste materials as potential sustainable precursors used for activated carbon production: a review. Reneweable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 46, 218–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Agarwal, S., & Rani, A. (2017). Adsorption of resorcinol from aqueous solution onto CTAB/NaOH/Fly ash composites: equilibrium, kinetics and thermodynamics. A. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 5, 526–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ahmaruzzaman, M. D. (2008). Adsorption of phenolic compounds on low-cost adsorbents: a review. Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, 143, 48–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ahmed, M. J., & Dhedan, S. K. (2012). Fluid phase equilibria equilibrium isotherms and kinetics modeling of methylene blue adsorption on agricultural wastes-based activated carbons. Fluid Phase Equilibrium, 317, 9–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ai, L., Luo, X., & Lin, X. (2013). Biosorption behaviors of uranium (VI) from aqueous solution by sunflower straw and insights of binding mechanism. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 298(3), 1823–1834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Akmil-Bas, C., & Köseog, E. (2015). Preparation, structural evaluation and adsorptive properties of activated carbon from agricultural waste biomass. Advanced Powder Technology, 26, 811–818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Akram, M., Nawaz, H., Iqbal, M., Noreen, S., & Sadaf, S. (2017). Biocomposite efficiency for Cr (VI) adsorption: kinetic, equilibrium and thermodynamics studies. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 5, 400–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Banerjee, S., & Chattopadhyaya, M. C. (2017). Adsorption characteristics for the removal of a toxic dye, tartrazine from aqueous solutions by a low cost agricultural by-product. Arabian Journal of Chemistry., 10, S1629–S1638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Basta, A. H., Fierro, V., El-Saied, H., & Celzard, A. (2009). 2-Steps KOH activation of rice straw: an efficient method for preparing high-performance activated carbons. Bioresource Technology, 100(17), 3941–3947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bayram, E., Hoda, N., & Ayranci, E. (2009). Adsorption/electrosorption of catechol and resorcinol onto high area activated carbon cloth. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 168(2–3), 1459–1466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dariush, R. (2013). Pseudo-second-order kinetic equations for modeling adsorption systems for removal of lead ions using multi-walled carbon nanotube. Journal of Nanostructure in Chemistry, 3(55), 1–6.Google Scholar
  13. Chao, B., Iwan, M., Lin, L., Zappi, M., & Dianchen, D. (2017). Effect of carbon precursors and pore expanding reagent on ordered mesoporous carbon for resorcinol removal. Journal of Water Process Engineering, 17, 256–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen, S., Belinky, P. A., Hadar, Y., & Dosoretz, C. G. (2009). Characterization of catechol derivative removal by lignin peroxidase in aqueous mixture. Bioresource Technology, 100(7), 2247–2253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Demirbas, A. (2008). Heavy metal adsorption onto agro-based waste materials: a review. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 157, 220–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dizbay-Onat, M., Vaidya, U. K., & Lungu, C. T. (2017). Preparation of industrial sisal fiber waste derived activated carbon by chemical activation and effects of carbonization parameters on surface characteristics. Industrial Crops and Products, 95, 583–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Deepak, P., Shikha, S., & Pardeep, S. (2017). Removal of methylene blue by adsorption onto activated carbon developed from Ficus carica bast. Arabian Journal of Chemistry, 10, S1445–S1451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fan, M., Marshall, W., Daugaard, D., & Brown, R. C. (2004). Steam activation of chars produced from oat hulls and corn stover. Bioresource Technology, 93(1), 103–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ferna, C. (2006). Preparation of activated carbon from cherry stones by chemical activation with ZnCl2. Applied Surface Science, 252, 5967–5971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Foo, K. Y., & Hameed, B. H. (2012). Potential of jackfruit peel as precursor for activated carbon prepared by microwave induced NaOH activation. Bioresource Technology, 112, 143–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Francisco, J. E., & Leitão, A. L. (2013). Hydroquinone: environmental pollution, toxicity, and microbial answers. BioMed Research International, 1–14.Google Scholar
  22. Fu, K., Yue, Q., Gao, B., Sun, Y., & Zhu, L. (2013). Preparation , characterization and application of lignin-based activated carbon from black liquor lignin by steam activation. Chemical Engineering Journal, 228, 1074–1082.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Garba, Z. N., & Abdul, A. (2016). Evaluation of optimal activated carbon from an para-chlorophenol and 2,4-dichlorophenol. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 102, 54–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huang, J., Huang, K., & Yan, C. (2009). Application of an easily water-compatible hypercrosslinked polymeric adsorbent for efficient removal of catechol and resorcinol in aqueous solution. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 167(1–3), 69–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hubicki, Z., & Barczak, M. (2005). Adsorption of phenolic compounds by activated carbon—a critical review. Chemosphere, 58, 1049–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hutdhawong, W. P., Howwanapoonpohn, S. C., & Uddhasukh, D. B. (2000). Electrocoagulation and subsequent recovery of phenolic compounds. The Japan Society of Analytical Sciences, 16, 1083–1084.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Iwan, M., Chao, B., Lian, Q., Subramaniam, R., Zappi, M., & Dianchen, D. (2017). Equilibrium, kinetic and thermodynamic studies for adsorption of BTEX onto ordered mesoporous carbon (OMC). Journal of Hazardous Materials, 336, 249–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jigisha, P., Channiwala, S. A., & Ghosal, K. (2007). A correlation for calculating elemental composition from proximate analysis of biomass materials. Fuel, 86(12–13), 1710–1719.Google Scholar
  29. Kumar, A., Kumar, S., & Kumar, S. (2003). Adsorption of resorcinol and catechol on granular activated carbon: equilibrium and kinetics. Carbon, 41, 3015–3025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kumar, S., Zafar, M., Prajapati, J. K., Kumar, S., & Kannepalli, S. (2011). Modeling studies on simultaneous adsorption of phenol and resorcinol onto granular activated carbon from simulated aqueous solution. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 185(1), 287–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kwiatkowski, M., Fierro, V., & Celzard, A. (2017). Numerical studies of the effects of process conditions on the development of the porous structure of adsorbents prepared by chemical activation of lignin with alkali hydroxides. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 486, 277–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lee, S. G., Lee, B. H., Baik, M.-Y., Park, S. K., Kim, B.-Y., Park, S.-J., Lee, J. H., Lee, C. Y., & Kim, D.-O. (2015). Activated carbon treatment of water extracts of Artemisia princeps Pampanini to retain bioactive phenolic compounds and remove volatiles. Food Science and Biotechnology, 24(3), 1097–1103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Li, Q., Yu, H., Song, J., Pan, X., Liu, J., Wang, Y., & Tang, L. (2014). Synthesis of SBA-15/polyaniline mesoporous composite for removal of resorcinol from aqueous solution. Applied Surface Science, 290, 260–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Li, X., Xing, W., Zhuo, S., Zhou, J., Li, F., Qiao, S.-Z., & Lu, G.-Q. (2011). Preparation of capacitor’s electrode from sunflower seed shell. Bioresource Technology, 102(2), 1118–1123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liao, Q., Sun, J., & Gao, L. (2008). The adsorption of resorcinol from water using multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 312, 160–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Liu, Y., Gao, M., Gu, Z., Luo, Z., Ye, Y., & Lu, L. (2014). Comparison between the removal of phenol and catechol by modified montmorillonite with two novel hydroxyl-containing gemini surfactants. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 267, 71–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Oguntimein, G. B. (2015). Biosorption of dye from textile wastewater effluent onto alkali treated dried sunflower seed hull and design of a batch adsorber. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 3(4), 2647–2661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Önal, Y., Akmil-Başar, C., Sarıcı-Özdemir, C., & Erdoğan, S. (2007). Textural development of sugar beet bagasse activated with ZnCl2. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 142, 138–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Opembe, N. N., Vunain, E., Mishra, A. K., Jalama, K., & Meijboom, R. (2014). Thermal stability of Ti–MCM-41. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, 117(2), 701–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rashidi, N. A., & Yusup, S. (2017). A review on recent technological advancement in the activated carbon production from oil palm wastes. Chemical Engineering Journal, 314, 277–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ren, L., Zhang, J., Li, Y., & Zhang, C. (2011). Preparation and evaluation of cattail fiber-based activated carbon for for 2,4-dichlorophenol and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol removal. Chemical Engineering Journal, 168, 553–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Saygili, H., & Güzel, F. (2016). High surface area mesoporous activated carbon from tomato processing solid waste by zinc chloride activation: process optimization, characterization and dyes adsorption. Journal of Cleaner Production, 113, 995–1004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schweigert, N., Zehnder, A. J., & Eggen, R. I. (2001). Minireview chemical properties of catechols and their molecular modes of toxic action in cells, from microorganisms to mammals. Environmental Microbiology, 3(2), 81–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Shakir, K., Ghoneimy, H. F., Elkafrawy, A. F., Beheir, S. G., & Refaat, M. (2008). Removal of catechol from aqueous solutions by adsorption onto organophilic-bentonite. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 150, 765–773.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Singh, H., Chauhan, G., Jain, A. K., & Sharma, S. K. (2017). Adsorptive potential of agricultural wastes for removal of dyes from aqueous solutions. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 5, 122–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tan, I. A. W., Ahmad, A. L., & Hameed, B. H. (2009). Adsorption isotherms, kinetics, thermodynamics and desorption studies of 2,4,6-trichlorophenol on oil palm empty fruit bunch-based activated carbon. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 164(2–3), 473–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Umar Isah, A., Abdulraheem, G., Bala, S., & Muhammad, S. (2015). Kinetics, equilibrium and thermodynamics studies of C.I. reactive blue 19 dye adsorption on coconut shell based activated carbon. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 102, 265–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Vunain, E., Davie, K., & Biswick, T. (2017). Synthesis and characterization of low-cost activated carbon prepared from Malawian baobab fruit shells by H3PO4 activation for removal of Cu (II) ions: equilibrium and kinetics studies. Applied Water Science, 7(8), 4301–4319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Vunain, E., Opembe, N. N., Jalama, K., Mishra, A. K., & Meijboom, R. (2014). Thermal stability of amine-functionalized MCM-41 in different atmospheres. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, 115(2), 1487–1496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Vunain, E., Mishra, A. K., & Krause, R. W. (2013). Fabrication, characterization and application of polymer nanocomposites for arsenic (III) removal from water. Journal of Inorganic and Organometallic Polymers and Materials, 23(2), 293–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zapata-Benabithe, Z., Diossa, G., Castro, C. D., & Quintana, G. (2016). Activated carbon bio-xerogels as electrodes for super capacitors applications. Procedia Engineering, 148, 18–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zou, Z., Tang, Y., Jiang, C., & Zhang, J. (2015). Efficient adsorption of Cr (VI) on sunflower seed hull derived porous carbon. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 3, 898–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ephraim Vunain
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dégninou Houndedjihou
    • 2
  • Maurice Monjerezi
    • 1
  • Adolp Anga Muleja
    • 3
  • BarthélémyTomkouani Kodom
    • 2
  1. 1.National Resources and Environmental Centre (NAREC), Faculty of Science, Department of ChemistryUniversity of MalawiZombaMalawi
  2. 2.Laboratory of Water Chemistry, Chemistry Department, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of LomeBvd Gnassingbé EyademaTogo
  3. 3.College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET)University of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations