The effects of activated carbon surface features on the reactive adsorption of carbamazepine and sulfamethoxazole

Lilja Nielsen, Mark J. Biggs, William Skinner, Teresa J. Bandosz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


Two commercial carbons, coconut shell- and wood-based were chosen to evaluate the mechanisms of carbamazepine (CBZ) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX) adsorption from a low (ppm level) concentration of these pharmaceuticals. The initial sample and those after adsorption were extensively characterized using potentiometric titration, thermal analysis combined with mass spectroscopy, FTIR, and XPS. It was found that not only porosity but also surface chemistry plays an important role in the adsorption process. The results show that extensive surface reactions take place during adsorption and adsorbates undergo significant transformations in the pore system. The ability of carbon surfaces to form superoxide ions results in the oxidation of CBZ and SMX, and their partial decomposition. Surface chemistry also promotes dimerization of the latter species. Moreover, functional groups of CBZ and SMX, mainly amines, react with oxygen groups of the carbon surface. Thus not only microporous carbons with sizes of pores similar to those of adsorbate molecules, but the carbons with large pores, rich in oxygen groups, can efficiently remove these pharmaceuticals following the reactive adsorption mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-432
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science


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