Acetaminophen (Ace) is a trace pollutant widely found in sewage treatment plant (STP) wastewater. We test the feasibility of coconut shell waste, a low cost adsorbent from coconut industry, for removing Ace from synthetic solution in a fixed-bed column adsorption. To enhance its performance, the surface of granular activated carbon (GAC) was pre-treated with NaOH, HNO3, ozone, and/or chitosan respectively. The results show that the chemical modification of the GAC's surface with various chemicals has enhanced its Ace removal during the column operations. Among the modified adsorbents, the ozone-treated GAC stands out for the highest Ace adsorption capacity (38.2 mg/g) under the following conditions: 40 mg/L of Ace concentration, 2 mL/min of flow rate, 45 cm of bed depth. Both the Thomas and the Yoon-Nelson models are applicable to simulate the experimental results of the column operations with their adsorption capacities: ozone-treated GAC (20.88 mg/g) > chitosan-coated GAC (16.67 mg/g) > HNO3-treated GAC (11.09 mg/g) > NaOH-treated GAC (7.57 mg/g) > as-received GAC (2.84 mg/g). This suggests that the ozone-treated GAC is promising and suitable for Ace removal in a fixed-bed reactor.
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