Activated carbon produced from waste wood pallets: Adsorption of three classes of dyes

Daniel C.W. Tsang, Jing Hu, Mei Yi Liu, Weihua Zhang, Keith C.K. Lai, Irene M.C. Lo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


Activated carbon was derived from waste wood pallets in Hong Kong via phosphoric acid activation and applied to adsorption of basic dye (methylene blue), acid dyes (acid blue 25 and acid red 151), and reactive dye (reactive red 23). The results showed that respective adjustment in phosphoric acid concentration, impregnation ratio, activation temperature, and activation time could maximize the surface area and pore volume of activated carbon. An increase of impregnation ratio or activation temperature significantly influenced the pore size distribution by expanding the porous structure and creating more macropores than micropores. The characterization of the carbon surface chemistry using Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, however, revealed a decrease in the amount of several functional groups with increasing activation temperature. The physical properties (surface area and pore volume) of the wood waste-derived activated carbon (using 36% phosphoric acid with an impregnation ratio of 1.5 at an activation temperature of 550°C for 1.5 h) were comparable to those of commercial activated carbon (Calgon F400). The contrasting pH effects on the adsorption of different classes of dyes signified the importance of both electrostatic interaction and chemical adsorption, which correlated to pH-dependent dissociation of surface functional groups. It is noteworthy that the physical properties of activated carbon were insufficient to account for the observed dye adsorption behavior, whereas the surface chemistry of activated carbon and the nature and chemical structure of dyes were more important. The fast kinetics and high capacity of dye adsorption of wood waste-derived activated carbon suggest that production of activated carbon from different types of wood waste should merit further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-155
Number of pages15
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Activated carbon
  • Adsorption
  • Dyes
  • Phosphoric acid activation
  • Wood waste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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