Removal of heavy metals by using activated carbon produced from cotton stalks


Utilization of agricultural waste to produce valuable products has opened opportunities in Egypt to minimize serious public health risks from exposure to dangerous fumes that come from burning the agricultural wastes in open fields. In this study, activated carbon produced locally from cotton stalks was examined for the removal of target heavy metal contaminants from water and waste water. Adsorption studies conducted in completely mixed batch reactors showed the ability of the produced activated carbon to remove heavy metals, namely lead, cadmium and copper, from aqueous solutions in a pH range below that of precipitation and with high uptake capacity after an equilibrium reaction time of 72 hours. The surface titration experiment indicated a negative surface charge of the produced activated carbon in solution at pH as low as 6, meaning that electrostatic attraction of the divalent heavy metals can occur below the pH required for precipitation. Continuous flow columns studies showed a good affinity of the produced carbon for the target heavy metals compared to other commercial adsorbents, revealed by the number of bed volumes treated until breakthrough. The highest adsorption capacity was for lead, followed by copper and then cadmium. Multicomponent metal adsorption experiments indicated a competition for the available surface sites. Adsorption capacities in the mixture were reduced from their single-solute values for all metals.


Environmental Engineering Program

Degree Name

MS in Environmental Engineering

Date of Award


Online Submission Date

February 2013

First Advisor

Smith, Edward

Committee Member 1

Smith, Edward

Document Type



115 p.


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy. The author has granted the American University in Cairo or its agents a non-exclusive license to archive this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study, and to make it accessible, in whole or in part, in all forms of media, now or hereafter known.


Not necessary for this item