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Capacity and mechanism of phenol adsorption on lignite
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A raw lignitic coal from Soma, Turkey was investigated to determine its potential as an adsorbent for phenol removal from wastewaters. Kinetic batch tests demonstrated that phenol could be completely removed from solution given sufficient solids loading and reaction time. The adsorption capacity of 10 mg/g obtained with the lignite is low compared to those achievable with activated carbons (around 300 mg/g). However, when normalized for the surface area, the adsorption capacity was much larger for the lignite (1.3 mg/m2) than that generally observed with activated carbons (0.05-0.3 mg/m2). Hydrogen-bonding of the phenolic -OH with the oxygen sites on the lignite surface is the most likely mechanism for adsorption. Though water molecules also have affinity for the same oxygen sites, lateral benzene ring interactions make phenol adsorption energetically more favorable. Since phenol molecules adsorbed in this fashion would project their benzene rings into solution, formation of a second layer through the action of the dispersive π-π interactions between the benzene rings is very likely. Residual water quality with respect to major elements and heavy metals was within acceptable limits defined by the ASTM standards. Dissolution of organic matter from the lignite was also observed to be negligible.