Extremely fast and efficient methylene blue adsorption using eco-friendly cork and paper waste-based activated carbon adsorbents


For the first time the feasibility of using an alkaline wastewater coming from the pulp and paper industry as an activator, partially (50 vol%) replacing commercial sodium hydroxide, in the production of cork based activated carbons was evaluated. The activated carbons showed the highest value of specific surface area ever reported for cork-based activated carbons (1670 m(2)/g), surpassing several other commercial and waste-based ones. These eco-friendly cork and paper waste-based activated carbons were then evaluated as methylene blue adsorbent materials. The influence of contact time, methylene blue initial concentration and adsorbent amount on the methylene blue removal efficiency by the activated carbons was studied. Extremely fast (>99.9% removal in 5 min) and efficient methylene blue adsorption (uptake of 350 mg/g) by the cork and paper waste-based adsorbents was achieved, which demonstrates the huge potential of these innovative adsorbents. These activated carbons were produced using two unexplored industrial by-products (alkaline wastewater and cork) and, therefore, may be an inexpensive source of activated carbons, which can be used for the effective removal of dyes from wastewaters. Furthermore, despite the very large surface area and high removal efficiency this is not a nano material (being around 30-50 mu m in size), its capabilities being due to its unique cork-derived microstructure, and hence it can be handled and removed/filtered much more easily than nanocarbons, and without any associated health or environmental risks. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



subject category

Science & Technology - Other Topics; Engineering; Environmental Sciences & Ecology


Novais, RM; Caetano, APF; Seabra, MP; Labrincha, JA; Pullar, RC

our authors


This work was developed within the scope of the project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007679 (FCT Ref. UID/CTM/50011/2013), financed by national funds through the FCT/MEC and when appropriate co-financed by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement. R.C. Pullar wishes to thank FCT grant IF/00681/2015 for supporting this work, and R.M. Novais wishes to thank FCT project H2CORK (PTDC/CTM-ENE/6762/2014).

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