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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2015, Article ID 186501, 11 pages
Research Article

Adsorption of Selected Pharmaceutical Compounds onto Activated Carbon in Dilute Aqueous Solutions Exemplified by Acetaminophen, Diclofenac, and Sulfamethoxazole

1Department of Biochemistry, Taipei Medical University, Taipei 110, Taiwan
2Graduate Institute of Environmental Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan
3Department of Energy and Environmental System Engineering, University of Seoul, Seoul 130-743, Republic of Korea
4Carbon Cycle Research Center, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan

Received 23 January 2015; Accepted 23 March 2015

Academic Editor: Esteban Alonso

Copyright © 2015 E.-E. Chang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The adsorption of three pharmaceuticals, namely, acetaminophen, diclofenac, and sulfamethoxazole onto granular activated carbon (GAC), was investigated. To study competitive adsorption, both dynamic and steady-state adsorption experiments were conducted by careful selection of pharmaceuticals with various affinities and molecular size. The effective diffusion coefficient of the adsorbate was increased with decease in particle size of GAC. The adsorption affinity represented as Langmuir was consistent with the ranking of the octanol-water partition coefficient, . The adsorption behavior in binary or tertiary systems could be described by competition adsorption. In the binary system adsorption replacement occurred, under which the adsorbate with the smaller was replaced by the one with larger . Results also indicated that portion of the micropores could be occupied only by the small target compound, but not the larger adsorbates. In multiple-component systems the competition adsorption might significantly be affected by the macropores and less by the meso- or micropores.