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Phenanthrene and pyrene sorption and intraparticle diffusion in polyoxymethylene, coke, and activated carbon

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David WernerORCiD, Professor Richard Luthy


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We report sorption isotherms and uptake kinetics for phenanthrene and pyrene with three organic model sorbents: polyoxymethylene (POM), coke, and activated carbon. We combine batch equilibration and kinetic experiments with the direct observation of the long-term diffusion of phenanthrene and pyrene as measured within cross-sectioned particles using microprobe laser-desorption laser-ionization mass spectroscopy (μL2MS). For POM pellets, the intraparticle concentration profiles predicted from kinetic batch experiments and a polymer diffusion model with spherical geometry are in agreement with the independent μL2MS measurements. For coke particles, the apparent diffusivities decreased with smaller particle size. These trends in diffusivities were described by a sorption-retarded pore diffusion model with a particle-size-dependent solid-water partitioning coefficient obtained from apparent equilibrium observed in the kinetic batch studies. For activated carbon, the μL2MS measurements showed faster radial diffusion of phenanthrene and pyrene into the particle interior than predicted from diffusion models based on a single sorption domain and diffusivity. A branched pore kinetic model, comprising polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) macropore diffusion with kinetic exchange of PAH between macroporous and microporous domains, fits the experimental observations better. Because of parallel macro- and microdiffusion processes, nonlinear sorption isotherms, and a concentration-dependent diffusivity, it is not possible to make independent parameter estimations for intraparticle diffusion in activated carbon using our present procedures. © 2005 American Chemical Society.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ahn S, Werner D, Karapanagioti HK, McGlothlin DR, Zare RN, Luthy RG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Science and Technology

Year: 2005

Volume: 39

Issue: 17

Pages: 6516-6526

ISSN (print): 0013-936X

ISSN (electronic): 1520-5851

Publisher: American Chemical Society


DOI: 10.1021/es050113o

PubMed id: 16190207


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