Evaluation of an activated carbon packed bed for the adsorption of phenols from petroleum refinery wastewater

Muftah H. El-Naas, Manal A. Alhaija, Sulaiman Al-Zuhair

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68 Citations (Scopus)


The performance of an adsorption column packed with granular activated carbon was evaluated for the removal of phenols from refinery wastewater. The effects of phenol feed concentration (80–182 mg/l), feed flow rate (5–20 ml/min), and activated carbon packing mass (5–15 g) on the breakthrough characteristics of the adsorption system were determined. The continuous adsorption process was simulated using batch data and the parameters for a new empirical model were determined. Different dynamic models such as Adams–Bohart, Wolborsko, Thomas, and Yoon-Nelson models were also fitted to the experimental data for the sake of comparison. The empirical, Yoon–Nelson and Thomas models showed a high degree of fitting at different operation conditions, with the empirical model giving the best fit based on the Akaike information criterion (AIC). At an initial phenol concentration of 175 mg/l, packing mass of 10 g, a flow rate of 10 ml/min and a temperature of 25 °C, the SSE of the new empirical and Thomas models were identical (248.35) and very close to that of the Yoon–Nelson model (259.49). The values were significantly lower than that of the Adams–Bohart model, which was determined to be 19,358.48. The superiority of the new empirical model and the Thomas model was also confirmed from the values of the R2 and AIC, which were 0.99 and 38.3, respectively, compared to 0.92 and 86.2 for Adams–Bohart model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7511-7520
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Activated carbon
  • Akaike information criterion (AIC)
  • Continuous adsorption
  • Kinetics modeling
  • Phenol removal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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