Adsorptive removal of endocrine-disrupting compounds and a pharmaceutical using activated charcoal from aqueous solution: kinetics, equilibrium, and mechanism studies

  • Yufeng Zhao
  • Chul-Woong Cho
  • Longzhe Cui
  • Wei Wei
  • Junxiong Cai
  • Guiping WuEmail author
  • Yeoung-Sang YunEmail author
Appropriate Technologies to Combat Water Pollution


Bisphenol A (BPA), diethyl phthalate (DEP), and carbamazepine (CBZ) have been widely used in chemical and pharmaceutical fields, and their residues are detected in various environments. Therefore, to find a suitable method for removing the compounds from an aqueous solution, an adsorption method by granular activated charcoal (AC) was studied. To investigate the adsorption properties of AC, its kinetics, equilibrium, pH effects, and regeneration of AC were examined. Moreover, its surface properties (i.e., surface area, pore volume, functional groups, and surface charge) were characterized by N2 adsorption and desorption isotherm, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), and zeta potential analyses. Experimental results show that AC has high removal efficiencies for the target compounds at the low initial concentration as well as high estimated adsorption capacities (qm) for DEP, BPA, and CBZ, whose values were 293.4 ± 18.8, 254.9 ± 16.2, and 153.3 ± 1.61 mg/g, respectively. In comparison with other adsorbents based on previously reported results, AC was shown to have generally higher removability for the three compounds than others. Moreover, it was observed that AC’s ability to adsorb DEP and BPA was dependent on pH because of hydrolysis and ionization, respectively. Meanwhile, there is no pH effect for CBZ adsorption by AC. After 3 cycles of adsorption/desorption, AC still maintained 92, 100, and 82% of initial adsorption capacities for DEP, BPA, and CBZ, respectively. Therefore, the AC is an effective adsorbent for the removal of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and pharmaceuticals from aqueous solution.


Endocrine-disrupting compounds Pharmaceutically active compounds Activated charcoal Adsorption Hydrophobic interaction Regeneration 


Funding information

This work was supported by the Korean Government through NRF (2017R1A2A1A05001207, 2017R1A6A3A04003316) grants.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_2617_MOESM1_ESM.docx (530 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 530 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Semiconductor and Chemical EngineeringChonbuk National UniversityJeonjuRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.College of Resources and Environmental ScienceSouth-Central University for NationalitiesWuhanChina
  3. 3.School of Geographic ScienceXinyang Normal UniversityXinyangChina
  4. 4.Hubei Academy of Environmental ScienceWuchang DistrictChina

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