Supercritical fluid extraction and temperature-programmed desorption of phenol and its oxidative coupling products from activated carbon

HUMAYUN R., Karakas G., Dahlstrom P., OZKAN U. S., TOMASKO D. L.

INDUSTRIAL & ENGINEERING CHEMISTRY RESEARCH, vol.37, no.8, pp.3089-3097, 1998 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 37 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 1998
  • Doi Number: 10.1021/ie970936p
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.3089-3097
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


Activated carbon remains one of the most economical adsorbents for the removal of contaminants from water. In particular, activated carbon is known to have an extremely high affinity for phenol and its derivatives. This has been shown to be the result of a catalytic process wherein activated carbon catalyzes the oxidative coupling reactions of phenol in aqueous solution when molecular oxygen is present. These reactions are believed to be the source, of the difficulty of regenerating activated carbon loaded with phenol. This paper reports on our efforts toward using supercritical fluids to regenerate activated carbon combined with a concurrent temperature-programmed desorption study to identify reaction products and their binding strength to the carbon surface. The results show unequivocally that part of the phenol is chemisorbed on the surface and part of it undergoes polymerization. Dihydroxybiphenyls and phenoxyphenols are the major reaction products present on the surface. Isotope studies showed that surface carbon atoms do not directly participate in these reactions. Supercritical extraction was found to perform as well as solvent extraction for the regeneration of activated carbon loaded with phenol. However, due to the chemisorbed nature of these oxidative coupling products, the reduced mass-transfer limitations afforded by supercritical extraction cannot improve the overall extent of extraction even though the rate is improved with the addition of cosolvents.