Activated carbons have been reported to be useful for adsorptive removal of the volatile anaesthetic sevoflurane from a vapour stream. The surface functionalities on activated carbons could be modified through aqueous oxidation using oxidising solutions to enhance the sevoflurane adsorption. In this study, an attempt to oxidise the surface of a commercial activated carbon to improve its adsorption capacity for sevoflurane was conducted using 6 mol/L nitric acid, 2 mol/L ammonium persulfate, and 30 wt per cent (wt%) of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The adsorption tests at fixed conditions (bed depth: 10 cm, inlet concentration: 528 mg/L, and flow rate: 3 L/min) revealed that H2O2 oxidation gave desirable sevoflurane adsorption (0.510 ± 0.005 mg/m2). A parametric study was conducted with H2O2 to investigate the effect of oxidation conditions to the changes in surface oxygen functionalities by varying the concentration, oxidation duration, and temperature, and the Conductor-like Screening Model for Real Solvents (COSMO-RS) was applied to predict the interactions between oxygen functionalities and sevoflurane. The H2O2 oxidation incorporated varying degrees of both surface oxygen functionalities with hydrogen bond (HB) acceptor and HB donor characters under the studied conditions. Oxidised samples with enriched oxygen functionalities with HB acceptor character and fewer HB donor character exhibited better adsorption capacity for sevoflurane. The presence of a high amount of oxygen functional groups with HB donor character adversely affected the sevoflurane adsorption despite the enrichment of oxygen functional groups with HB acceptor character that have a higher tendency to adsorb sevoflurane.
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