Skip to main content

The effect of pre-swelling on the characteristics of obtained activated carbon from cigarette butts fibers


The main purpose of this study is to introduce a modified method for recycling huge number (5.7 trillion) of cigarette butts (Cb) and convert them to activated carbon through a modified method. In order to achieve this, the effect of pre-swelling on the physical and chemical characteristics of obtained activated carbon (OAC) was investigated. In the first step, Cb was impregnated with different percentages of NaOH solutions, and then pyrolyzed. In the next step, they were compared with activated carbon prepared by physical activation. OAC characteristics: morphology, physical properties, structural, textural and adsorption properties, and thermal stability were investigated. The existence of phenol and carboxyl was determined through FTIR. Specific surface of OAC was about < 900 m2/g. The highest capacities of the OAC were confirmed by the iodine number (1143.34). Results showed that pre-swelling of filter fibers would increase the specific surface of OAC by up to 47%.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10


  1. Bansal RC, Goyal M (2005) Activated carbon adsorption. Tayler & Francis Group, Boca Raton

  2. Soltani SM, Yazdi SK (2012) Effect of dry physical mixing of cigarette filters as carbon source with KOH on final physical characteristics of the synthesized porous carbon. 2012 12th IEEE International Conference on Nanotechnology, NANO 2012, August 20, 2012 - August 23, 2012, Birmingham, United Kingdom, IEEE Computer Society

  3. Yahya MA, Al-Qodah Z, Ngah CZ (2015) Agricultural bio-waste materials as potential sustainable precursors used for activated carbon production: a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 46:218–235

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Divyashree A, Hegde G (2015) Activated carbon nanospheres derived from bio-waste materials for supercapacitor applications–a review. RSC Adv 5(107):88339–88352

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Gerçel Ö, Özcan A, Özcan AS, Gercel HF (2007) Preparation of activated carbon from a renewable bio-plant of Euphorbia rigida by H2SO4 activation and its adsorption behavior in aqueous solutions. Appl Surf Sci 253(11):4843–4852

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Poinern GEJ, Senanayake G, Shah N, Thi-Le XN, Parkinson GM, Fawcett D (2011) Adsorption of the aurocyanide, Au (CN) 2-complex on granular activated carbons derived from macadamia nut shells–a preliminary study. Miner Eng 24(15):1694–1702

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Ioannidou O, Zabaniotou A (2007) Agricultural residues as precursors for activated carbon production—a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 11(9):1966–2005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Matos J, Nahas C, Rojas L, Rosales M (2011) Synthesis and characterization of activated carbon from sawdust of Algarroba wood. 1. Physical activation and pyrolysis. J Hazard Mater 196:360–369

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Zabihi M, Asl AH, Ahmadpour AHMAD (2010) Studies on adsorption of mercury fromaqueous solution on activated carbons prepared from walnut shell. J Hazard Mater 174(1–3):251–256

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Mourão PAM, Laginhas C, Custódio F, Nabais JV, Carrott PJM, Carrott MR (2011) Influence of oxidation process on the adsorption capacity of activated carbons from lignocellulose precursors. Fuel Process Technol 92(2):241–246

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Worch E (2012) Adsorption technology in water treatment: fundamentals, processes, and modeling. Walter de Gruyter. Germany

  12. Soltani SM, KazemiYazdi S (2012) An investigation into the effects of temperature and heating rate on porous carbon characteristics obtained from the carbonization of a cellulosic-based solid waste. Int J Chem Eng 3(4)

  13. Nahil MA, Williams PT (2012) Pore characteristics of activated carbons from the phosphoric acid chemical activation of cotton stalks. Biomass Bioenergy 37:142–149

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Ahmedna M, Marshall WE, Rao RM (2000) Production of granular activated carbons from select agricultural by-products and evaluation of their physical, chemical and adsorption properties. Bioresour Technol ,71(2):113–123.

  15. Lua AC, Yang T, Guo J (2004) Effects of pyrolysis conditions on the properties of activated carbons prepared from pistachio-nut shells. J Anal Appl Pyrolysis 72(2):279–287

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Soltani SM, Yazdi SK (2012) Effect of acidic pretreatment of carbon precursor on the characteristics of carbon obtained from a typical solid waste. IPCBEE 37:86–91

  17. Robertson RM, Thomas WC, Suthar JN, Brown DM (2012) Accelerated degradation of cellulose acetate cigarette filters using controlled-release acid catalysis. Green Chem 14(8):2266–2272

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Smith EA, Novotny TE (2011) Whose butt is it? Tobacco industry research about smokers and cigarette butt waste. Tob Control 20(Supple 1):i2–i9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Lee W, Lee CC (2015) Developmental toxicity of cigarette butts–an underdeveloped issue. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 113:362–368

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Slaughter E, Gersberg RM, Watanabe K, Rudolph J, Stransky C, Novotny TE (2011) Toxicity of cigarette butts, and their chemical components, to marine and freshwater fish. Tob Control 20(Supple 1:i25–i29

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Euromonitor International (2014) Global tobacco: key findings part 1 – tobacco overview, cigarettes and the future. Available: Accessed 21 July 2015

  22. Huang F, Xu Y, Peng B, Su Y, Jiang F, Hsieh YL, Wei Q (2015) Coaxial electro spun cellulose-core fluoro polymer-shell fibrous membrane from recycled cigarette filter as separator for high performance lithium-ion battery. ACS Sustain Chem Eng 3(5):932–940

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Novotny TE, Hardin SN, Hovda LR, Novotny DJ, McLean MK, Khan S (2011) Tobacco and cigarette butt consumption in humans and animals. Tob Control 20(Supple 1:i17–i20

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Soltani SM, Yazdi SK, Hosseini S (2014) Effects of pyrolysis conditions on the porous structure construction of mesoporous charred carbon from used cigarette filters. Appl Nanosci 4(5):551–569

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. PubChem Compound (2011) National Center for biotechnology information, U.S. National Library of Medicine), Retrieved 15 Jan 2013

  26. Polarz S, Smarsly B, Schattka JH (2002) Hierachical porous carbon structures from cellulose acetate fibers. Chem Mater 14(7):2940–2945

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Lai MK, Teo HH, Lee JY (2015) Recycled cigarette filter as reinforcing filler for natural rubber. In: Applied mechanics and materials, vol 705. Trans Tech Publications, pp 39–43

  28. Iannace G, MIRETTI GA, Repezza MA (2010) Determination of sound properties on acoustic panels made from recycled cigarette filters. In: I EAA-EuroRegio 2010 Congress on Sound and Vibration–15-18 September

    Google Scholar 

  29. Liu C, Chen B, Yang J, Li C (2015) One-step fabrication of superhydrophobic ansuperoleophilic cigarette filters for oil-water separation. J Adhes Sci Technol 29(22):2399–2407

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Ou J, Wan B, Wang F, Xue M, Wu H, Li W (2016) Superhydrophobic fibers from cigarette filters for oil spill cleanup. RSC Adv 6(50):44469–44474

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Aeslina AK, Mohajerani A (2012, September) Leachability of heavy metals from fired clay bricks incorporated with cigarette butts. In: Business, engineering and industrial applications (ISBEIA), 2012 IEEE symposium on. IEEE, pp 872–877

  32. Lee M, Kim GP, Song HD, Park S, Yi J (2014) Preparation of energy storage material derived from a used cigarette filter for a supercapacitor electrode. Nanotechnology 25(34):345–601

  33. Tongpoothorn W, Sriuttha M, Homchan P, Chanthai S, Ruangviriyachai C (2011) Preparation of activated carbon derived from Jatropha curcas fruit shell by simple thermo-chemical activation and characterization of their physico-chemical properties. Chem Eng Res Des vol. 89, pp. 335–340

  34. Yahya MA, Al-Qodah Z, Ngah CWZCW, Hashim MA (2015) Preparation and characterization of activated carbon from desiccated coconut residue by potassium hydroxide. Asian J Chem 27(6):2331–2336

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Yahya MA, Ngah CZC, Hashim MA, Al-Qodah Z (2016) Preparation of activated carbon from desiccated coconut residue by chemical activation with NaOH. J Mater Sci Res 5(1):24

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to R. Khajavi.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Koochaki, C.B., Khajavi, R., Rashidi, A. et al. The effect of pre-swelling on the characteristics of obtained activated carbon from cigarette butts fibers. Biomass Conv. Bioref. 10, 227–236 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Activated carbon
  • Pre- swelling
  • Cigarette butts
  • Carbonization