Removal of trichloroethylene by activated carbon in the presence and absence of TiO 2 nanoparticles

Hafiz H. Salih, George A. Sorial, Craig L. Patterson, Rajib Sinha, E. Radha Krishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nanoparticles (NPs) are emerging as a new type of contaminant in water and wastewater. The fate of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO 2NPs) in a granular activated carbon (GAC) adsorber and their impact on the removal of trichloroethylene (TCE) was investigated. Key parameters governing the TiO 2NP-GAC interaction such as specific surface area (SSA), zeta potential, and the TiO 2NP particle size distribution (PSD) were determined. The impact of TiO 2NPs on TCE adsorption on GAC was tested by conducting TCE adsorption isotherm, kinetic, and column breakthrough studies in the presence and absence of TiO 2NPs. SSA and pore size distribution of the virgin and spent GAC were obtained. The fate and transport of the TiO 2NPs in the GAC fixed bed and their impact on TCE adsorption were found to be a function of their zeta potential, concentration, PSD, and the nature of their aggregation. The TiO 2NPs under investigation are not stable in water and rapidly form larger aggregates. Due to the fast adsorption kinetics of TCE, the isotherm and kinetic studies found no effect from TiO 2NPs. However, TiO 2NPs attached to GAC and led to a reduction in the amount of TCE adsorbed during the breakthrough experiments suggesting a preloading pore blockage phenomenon. The analysis of the used GAC confirmed the pore blockage and SSA reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2837-2847
Number of pages11
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Activated carbon
  • Adsorption
  • Nanoparticles
  • Trichloroethylene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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