Equilibrium and kinetic studies of copper adsorption by activated carbon

Jiaping Chen, Sotira Yiacoumi*, Timothy G. Blaydes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Copper adsorption by granular activated carbon is reported in this paper. The experimental section includes titrations of activated carbon, as well as equilibrium and kinetic studies of copper adsorption. The potentiometric titration results show that the point of zero charge is 9.5, and that the surface charge increases with decreasing pH. The adsorption of copper strongly depends on solution pH and increases from 10 to 95% at pH ranging from 2.3 to 8. A dramatic increase in pH and emission of small gas bubbles are observed during the experiments, which may result from adsorption of hydrogen ion and/or reduction-oxidation reactions. The two-pK triple-layer model is employed to describe copper adsorption. KINEQL, an adsorption kinetics algorithm, is used to represent the experimental data, and it is found that the model can describe reasonably well the experimental measurements of surface charge, adsorption equilibrium, and adsorption kinetics. Calculations show that formation of the surface-metal complexes SO-Cu2+ and SO-CuOH+ (a hydrolysis product of SO-Cu2+ ) in the outer layer around the surface of carbon results in removal of copper ion. It is also found that mass transfer controls the adsorption rate, and that adsorption occurs in the micropore region where both external mass transfer and diffusion are important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-146
Number of pages14
JournalSeparations Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption equilibrium
  • Adsorption kinetics
  • Copper adsorption
  • Granular activated carbon
  • Two-pk triple-layer model

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