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In this study, a new series of coconut shell based granular activated carbons (GAC) are prepared by impregnating with zirconium ions as zirconyl chloride and activated under superheated steam. These carbons are designated with activation temperature/ conditions as GAC 383 (activated at 383K), GACO 383 (HNO3 oxidised), GACZR 1273 (ZrOCl2 activated at 1273K) and GACOZR 1273 (HNO3 oxidised, ZrOCl2 activated at 1273K). Surface characteristics of these carbons are evaluated using Boehm titration methods, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction techniques (XRD), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The pore volume and the respective specific surface area of each carbon are determined by BET, I plot, Langmuir, Freundlich, and Dubinin-Radushkevich isotherms using N2 adsorption data at 77K. Analysis shows that zirconium ion enhances the surface area and porosity of granular activated carbon. The adsorption characteristics of newly prepared GAC are tested by solid-liquid equilibria using phenol as adsorbate. Equilibrium phenol adsorption data fitted to standard isotherm models of Langmuir, Freundlich, and Dubinin-Radushkevich (D-R) equations. Adsorption constants and parameters indicate that zirconium impregnated granular activated carbons are relatively more efficient for the removal of phenol than the native carbon used.
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