Simultaneous removal of metronidazole and Pb(II) from aqueous solution onto bifunctional activated carbons

  • Sonia Judith Segovia-Sandoval
  • Erika Padilla-Ortega
  • Francisco Carrasco-Marín
  • María Selene Berber-Mendoza
  • Raúl Ocampo-PérezEmail author
Research Article


In this work, it was analyzed the behavior of three commercial activated carbons with different textural and chemical properties to adsorb individually metronidazole and lead ions from aqueous solution. Afterwards, the activated carbons were modified with citric acid to remove both compounds simultaneously. Both sets of activated carbons were characterized chemically and texturally. XPS analysis was performed to corroborate the adsorption mechanism of lead on the surface of the carbons. Finally, the intraparticle diffusion of both adsorbates was elucidated by the application of diffusional model in three dimensions. The results evidenced that adsorption mechanism for MNZ and Pb(II) is independent, the adsorption for MNZ is governed by ππ dispersive interactions, whereas Pb(II) adsorption is mainly controlled by electrostatic interactions. The binary adsorption equilibrium shows that the adsorption of MNZ is independent from the concentration of Pb(II), whereas the adsorption of Pb(II) is affected by the presence of MNZ at low concentrations (0.1 mmol L−1), but it remains almost constant at concentrations of MNZ between 0.1 and 1.5 mmol L−1. Finally, the mass transport of MNZ was faster than Pb(II) from the solution to the external surface of activated carbon and the mass flux of MNZ inside the particle was superior to the mass flux of Pb(II). Lastly, there might be an obstruction phenomenon with MNZ impeding Pb(II) to reach the active sites placed into the carbon’s microporosity structure.

Graphical abstract


Single and binary adsorption Intraparticle diffusion Metronidazole Lead 



Mass of adsorbent, g


Mass of MNZ or Pb(II) adsorbed on the adsorbent, mg g-1


Volume of the solution, L


Concentration of Pb(II) or MNZ in aqueous solution, mg L−1


Concentration of MNZ or Pb(II) at equilibrium, mg L−1


Initial concentration of MNZ or Pb(II) in aqueous solution, mg L−1


Predicted concentration of MNZ or Pb(II) in aqueous solution, mg L−1


Maximum mass of MNZ or Pb(II) adsorbed on the material, mg g−1


Equilibrium constant of Freundlich isotherm, mg1−1/n L1/n g−1


Freundlich isotherm constant related to the adsorbent–adsorbate affinity


Equilibrium constant of Langmuir isotherm related to the heat adsorption, L mg−1


Prausnitz–Radke isotherm constant, L g−1


Prausnitz–Radke isotherm constant, Lβ mgβ−1


Prausnitz–Radke isotherm constant


Average absolute percentage deviation, %


Number of experimental data points

qi, exp

Mass of solute adsorbed at equilibrium

qi, cal

Mass of solute adsorbed at equilibrium predicted with diffusional model


Surface area per adsorbent mass unit, m2 g−1


Micropore area, m2 g−1


External surface area per mass of adsorbent, cm2 g−1


Total pore volume, cm3 g−1


Micropore volume, cm3 g−1


Average pore diameter, nm


Average width of the micropores, nm


Void fraction of carbon particles


Apparent density of adsorbent particles, g cm−3


Solid density of adsorbent particles, g cm−3


Average pore diameter, nm


Molecular diffusion coefficient at infinite dilution, cm2 s−1


Concentration of Pb(II) or MNZ at the external surface of the particle, mg L−1


Surface diffusion coefficient, cm2 s−1


External mass transfer coefficient in liquid phase, cm s−1


Dimensionless concentration of MNZ or Pb(II) in the solution


Mass transport due to surface diffusion, mg cm−2 s−1



This work was funded by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (National Council of Science and Technology), CONACyT, Mexico, through Grant No. 290817 and PN-2015-625.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonia Judith Segovia-Sandoval
    • 1
  • Erika Padilla-Ortega
    • 2
  • Francisco Carrasco-Marín
    • 3
  • María Selene Berber-Mendoza
    • 1
  • Raúl Ocampo-Pérez
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Centro de Investigación y Estudios de Posgrado, Facultad de IngenieríaUniversidad Autónoma de San Luis PotosíSan Luis PotosíMexico
  2. 2.Centro de Investigación y Estudios de Posgrado, Facultad de Ciencias QuímicasUniversidad Autónoma de San Luis PotosíSan Luis PotosíMexico
  3. 3.Departamento de Química Inorgánica, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain

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