Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Phosphoric Acid Chemically Activated Waste Wood
Activated Carbon (AC) is commonly produced by gasification, but there has been increasing interest in chemical activation due to its lower activation temperatures and higher yields. Phosphoric acid, in particular, succeeds in both these areas. Phosphoric acid activated carbon (PAC) can be environmentally sustainable, and economically favourable, when the phosphoric acid used in the activation is recycled. This thesis describes the digestion and activation of waste wood using phosphoric acid, as well as methods used to recover phosphoric acid, functionalize the produced activated carbon with iron salts and then test their efficacy on the adsorption of target analytes, selenite and selenate. In order to achieve an efficient phosphoric acid based chemical activation, further understanding of the activation process is needed. A two-step phosphoric acid activation process with waste wood feed stock was examined. The filtrate washes of the crude product and the surface composition of the produced PAC were characterized using X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Fourier Transform-Infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), Ion Chromatography (IC), and 31P Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). XPS of the unwashed PAC contained 13.3 atomic percent phosphorous, as phosphoric acid, while the washed sample contained 1.4 atomic percent phosphorous as PO43-, and P2O74-. Using 31P NMR, phosphoric acid was identified as the primary phosphorous species in the acidic 0.1 M HCl washings, with pyrophosphates also appearing in the second 0.1 M NaOH neutralizing wash, and finally a weak signal from phosphates with an alkyl component also appearing in the DI wash. IC showed high concentrations of phosphoric acid in the 0.1 M HCl wash with progressively lower concentrations in both the NaOH and DI washes. Total phosphoric acid recovery was 96.7 % for waste wood activated with 25 % phosphoric acid, which is higher than previous literature findings for phosphoric acid activation. The surface areas of the PAC were in the 1500-1900 m2g-1 range. Both pre and post activation impregnation of iron salts resulted in iron uptake. Pre-activation resulted in only iron(III) speciation while post-activation impregnation of iron(II)chloride did result in iron(II) forming on the PAC surface. The pre-activated impregnated PAC showed little to no adsorption of selenite and selenate. The post-activation impregnated iron(II)chloride removed up to 12.45 ± 0.025 mg selenium per g Iron-PAC. Competitive ions such as sulfate and nitrate had little effect on selenium adsorption. Phosphate concentration did affect the uptake. At 250 ppm approximately 75 % of adsorption capacity of both the selenate and the selenite solutions was lost, although selenium was still preferentially adsorbed. Peak adsorption occurred between a pH of 4 and 11, with a complete loss of adsorption at a pH of 13. Author Keywords: Activated Carbon, doping, Iron, phosphoric acid, selenium

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