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Water Res. 2007 Aug;41(15):3299-306. Epub 2007 May 22.

Microwave-assisted regeneration of activated carbons loaded with pharmaceuticals.

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Instituto Nacional del Carbon, P.O. Box 73, 33080 Oviedo, Spain.


The purpose of this work was to explore the application of microwaves for the regeneration of activated carbons spent with salicylic acid, a metabolite of a common analgesic frequently found in wastewater from the pharmaceutical industry. The exhausted carbon was treated in a quartz reactor by microwave irradiation at 2450 MHz at different temperatures and atmospheres, the regeneration efficiency being highly dependent on the operating conditions. Quantitative desorption of the pollutant was achieved at high temperature and oxidizing atmosphere, with regeneration efficiencies as high as 99% after six cycles. The stripping efficiency was superior to 95% at high temperatures and decreased at 450 degrees C. The incomplete desorption of the adsorbate at low temperature was further confirmed by the changes in the porosity observed by N2 and CO2 adsorption isotherms. Hence, micropores remain blocked which results in a reduction in loading capacities in successive cycles.

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