Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol.346, 557-566, 2018
Microwave carbonized cellulose for trace pharmaceutical adsorption
A promising sustainable strategy to valorize cellulose to high-value adsorbents for trace pharmaceuticals, like diclofenac sodium (DCF), in the water is demonstrated. Carbon nanospheres (CN) as the DCF adsorbent were derived from cellulose through a one-pot microwave-assisted hydrothermal carbonization method. CN exhibited efficient DCF removal (100% removal of 0.001 mg/mL DCF in 30 s and 59% removal of 0.01 mg/mL DCF in 1 h). The adsorption kinetics and isotherm data were well-fitted with the pseudo-second-order kinetic model and Langmuir model, respectively. The adsorption process was endothermic and spontaneous as confirmed by the thermodynamic parameters. Multiple characterization techniques including SEM/EDS, FTIR, FTIR-imaging and zeta potential were applied to qualitatively investigate the adsorption process. pi-pi stacking and hydrogen bonding were proposed as the dominant adsorption interactions. CN also demonstrated effective adsorption capacity towards three other commonly-detected contaminants in the wastewater including ketoprofen (KP), benzophenone (BZP), and diphenylamine (DPA), each bearing partial structural similarity with DCF. The affinity of the contaminants towards CN followed the order DPA > BZP > DCF > KP, which could be explained by the different configurations and chemical units. It was speculated that for DCF and KP, the steric hindrance and electrostatic repulsion produced by dissociated carboxyl groups can impede the adsorption process as compared to DPA and BZP. This methodology could offer further insights into the drug adsorption on the cellulose-derived carbon adsorbents and the use of bioderived carbons for treatment of wastewaters contaminated with pharmaceuticals.