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Role of activated carbon on micropollutans degradation by different radiation processes

Inmaculada Velo Gala, Jesús J. López Peñalver, Manuel Sánchez Polo, Jose Rivera Utrilla


The objective of this study was to analyse the influence of the presence of activated carbon on radiation processes. The triiodinated contrast medium diatrizoate was chosen as the contaminant model. We selected four commercial activated carbons and sixteen gamma radiation-modified carbons derived from these. The different advanced oxidation/reduction processes that have been studied were improved through the addition of activated carbon in the UV light and gamma radiating processes. In the UV/activated carbon process, the synergic activity of the activated carbon is enhanced in the samples with higher percentages of surface oxygen, ester/anhydride groups and carbon atoms with sp2 hybridization. Band gap determination of activated carbons revealed that they behave as semiconductor materials and, therefore, as photoactive materials in the presence of UV radiation, given that all band gap values are <4 eV. We also observed that the gamma radiation treatment reduces the band gap values of the activated carbons and that, in a single series of commercial carbons, lower band gap values correspond to higher contaminant removal rate values. We observed that the activity of the reutilized activated carbons is similar to that of the original carbons. Based on these results, we proposed that the activated carbon acts as a photocatalyst, promoting electrons of the valence band to the conduction band and increasing the generation of HO• radicals in the medium. Similarly, there was a synergic effect made by the presence of activated carbon in gamma radiation system, which favours pollutant removal. This synergic effect is independent of the textural but not the chemical characteristics of the activated carbon, observing a higher synergic activity for carbons with a higher surface content of oxygen, specifically quinone groups. We highlight that the synergic effect of the activated carbon requires adsorbent–adsorbate electrostatic interaction and is absent when this interaction is hindered.


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