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Research on dye wastewater decoloration by pulse discharge plasma combined with charcoal derived from spent tea leaves

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Pulsed discharge plasma (PDP) combined with charcoal (PDP–charcoal) was employed to treat dye wastewater, with methyl orange (MO) as the model pollutant. The charcoal was prepared using spent tea leaves and was characterized by scanning electron microscopy, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, and Boehm titration to investigate the adsorption and catalytic characteristics before and after adsorption and PDP treatment. The prepared charcoal exhibited a high MO adsorption capacity, and the adsorption process followed the pseudo-second-order kinetic model and the Freundlich model. The MO decoloration efficiency reached 69.8 % within 7.5 min of treatment in the PDP–charcoal system, whereas values of 29.2 and 25.9 % were achieved in individual PDP and charcoal systems, respectively. The addition of n-butanol and H2PO4 presented inhibitive effects on MO decoloration in the PDP system. However, these effects were much weaker in the PDP–charcoal system. In addition, the effects of charcoal on O3 and H2O2 formation were evaluated, and the results showed that both the O3 and H2O2 concentrations decreased in the presence of charcoal. The MO decomposition intermediates were analyzed using UV–Vis spectrometry and GC-MS. 1,4-Benzoquinone, 4-nitrophenol, 4-hydroxyaniline, and N,N′-dimethylaniline were detected. A possible pathway for MO decomposition in this system was proposed.

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The authors thank the Projects funded by Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province (2015JQ2040), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2014M562460), Talents Research Start-up Foundation of Shaanxi Province (No. 2013/01400/Z111021504), and the Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province (2015JQ2051) for the financial supports to this research.

Author information

Correspondence to Tiecheng Wang.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Bingcai Pan

Electronic supplementary material

Text S1–S2 included the charcoal preparation process, the charcoal adsorption experiment, the PDP system, and other analysis methods. Figure S1 showed the typical pulsed discharge voltage and current waveforms. Figure S2 indicated the changes of MO concentration with time at different charcoal concentrations. Figure S3 showed the MO adsorption kinetics on the charcoal surface. Figure S4 summarized the total ion chromatogram of MO degradation intermediates via GC-MS. Tables S1 and S2 showed the kinetic and isotherm parameter values for various models of MO adsorption by charcoal.


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Wang, T., Qu, G., Pei, S. et al. Research on dye wastewater decoloration by pulse discharge plasma combined with charcoal derived from spent tea leaves. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 13448–13457 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-6520-9

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  • Pulsed discharge plasma
  • Charcoal
  • Spent tea leaves
  • Methyl orange
  • Decoloration