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Recyclable Superhydrophobic, Antimoisture-Activated Carbon Pellets for Air and Water Purification

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2020 by Xuan Jiao, Meiting Li, Zhen Cheng, Xinquan Yu, Shu Yang, Youfa Zhang
Activated carbon (AC) is a low-cost, highly porous material with large internal surface areas. It is highly efficient in absorbing moisture and a variety of chemical pollutants. Therefore, it has been widely used in air and water purification. However, the strong affinity to moisture often dominates, thus limiting AC’s adsorption capacity of other pollutants in a humid environment and reducing its overall lifetime. In the study, superhydrophobic and anti-moisture AC (SA-AC) pellets are fabricated through one-step modification of commercially available AC with a solution consisting of superhydrophobic silica nanoparticles. The SA-AC pellets exhibit excellent water repellency with a static water contact angle reaching 160.3°. More importantly, they are moisture-resistant and air-permeable. Therefore, they preferably adsorb organic gases at humid conditions. The absorbed organic vapor can be released when they are transferred back to the dry atmosphere, for example, releasing approximately 35% of absorbed ethanol. The recoverability significantly reduces energy requirement compared to calcination or conventional extraction. Great adsorption capacity of organic dyes such as methylene blue, removal of oil-in-water microemulsions, and recyclability of SA-AC pellets are demonstrated. The morphology of the microporous structures of the SA-AC pellets is characterized against processing conditions, surface functional groups, and hierarchical structures tailored by the deposition of low-surface energy silica nanoparticles. The resulting micro-/sub-micropores on the pellet surface promote droplet condensation, thus displaying greater damp-proof performance than those treated by traditional modification. The study here presents a promising alternative for the efficient purification on large-scale air/water treatment.

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