Naphthalene and o-Xylene Adsorption onto High Carbon Fly Ash

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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Adsorption is an effective remediation technique for petroleum hydrocarbons because of its ease of use and high efficiency. The utilization of high-carbon content industrial by-products in such applications can present significant economic and environmental advantages. In this study, batch adsorption tests and petrographic analyses were used to investigate the adsorption of two nonpolar petroleum contaminants, naphthalene and o-xylene, onto seven fly ashes with varying carbon contents, with powdered activated carbon (PAC) as a control. Six equilibrium isotherm models were used to evaluate the batch data. The results yielded nonlinear sorption isotherms characterized by high sorption capacity at low concentrations. The naphthalene and o-xylene adsorption capacity of the fly ashes was correlated with the unburned carbon content, specific surface area of the sorbent, and the percentage of the anisotropic and isotropic carbon content of the ash. On the basis of the Polanyi-Dubinin-Manes model, a pore-filling mechanism is the dominant mechanism for the adsorption of the nonpolar organic chemicals onto PAC, whereas the adsorption onto fly ash is likely to be governed by the unburned carbon content and the specific surface area of the ash.

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© 2011 American Society of Civil Engineers. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Journal of Environmental Engineering