Modification of Granular Activated Carbon with Post-Treatment to Enhance Nitrate Removal from Drinking Water

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD Student of Environmental Engineering, Graduate Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, Iran

2 Assist. Prof., Environmental Engineering, Graduate Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, Iran


The presence of nitrate in groundwater resources has instigated increasing concerns among both managers and users of, especially, drinking and sanitation water. From among the different nitrate removal methods, the adsorption method has attracted more attention thanks to its high removal efficieny and economical operation. Commercial activated carbon ranging in mesh size from 30‒40 was utilized to remove nitrate from an aqueous solution. In order to enhance nitrate uptake, different acid, alkaline, and cationic surfactant post-treatments were examined. Alkaline post-treatment followed by cationic surfactant modification was found to yield the best efficiency. FTIR, SEM, and N2 adsorption/desorption were carried out to determine the physical and chemical properties of activated carbon. Kinetic tests revealed that adsortption reached its equilibrium state after 12 hiurs and that the pseudo-second order and Freundlich models. Based on the Langmuir model, maximum adsorption capacity was found to be 15.34 and pH had an insignificant effect on nitrate adsorption. Moreover, the highest decline in nitrate adsorption was observed in the presence of sulfate followed by chloride, phosphate, and carbonate. Based on the results obtained, the modified activated carbon accompanied by washing with sodiuym hydroxide and modified cationic surfactant post-treatment might be recommended for use in adsorption processes as a promising innovative technology for nitrate removal from drinking water.


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