Enhanced trifluoroacetate removal from groundwater by quaternary nitrogen-grafted granular activated carbon

Hao Sun, Fred S. Cannon, Xin He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This research reports an integrated method for synthesizing a quaternary nitrogen-grafted activated carbon that is derived from a subbituminous coal source. The protocol employed nitric acid oxidation, thermal ammonia treatment and methyl iodide quaternization. The quaternized product greatly increased trifluoroacetate (TFA, CF 3 COO ) removal from a groundwater source. This quaternary nitrogen-grafted carbon (designated AWNQ) exhibited the highest TFA adsorption capacity of 32.9 mg/g and exhibited high energy of adsorption for TFA. Also, when processing groundwater that had been spiked with 200 ppb TFA, this quaternary nitrogen-grafted carbon removed TFA to 3 ppb breakthrough for 1860 BV, which was twelve times longer than the 150 BV for the pristine carbon. The enhanced sorption was attributed to its high quaternary nitrogen ratio (1.30, at.%), which offered 0.69 meq/g positive charge. Furthermore, high regeneration efficiency (89.5%) was achieved by the proposed regeneration protocol. The mixed regenerant (ethanol and NaCl solution) effectively stripped off the loaded TFA and regenerated the quaternary nitrogen sites. This quaternary nitrogen-grafted carbon with its fast and high uptake capacity offered technical promise for TFA removal from groundwater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-585
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Apr 10 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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