Cr adsorption on wood-based powdered activated carbon (WPAC) was characterized by scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS), Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The highest Cr(VI) adsorption (40.04%) was obtained under acidic conditions (pH 3), whereas Cr removal at pH 10 was only 0.34%. The mechanism of Cr(VI) removal from aqueous solutions by WPAC was based on the reduction of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) with the concomitant oxidation of C-H and C-OH to C-OH and C=O, respectively, on the surface of WPAC, followed by Cr(III) adsorption. Raman spectroscopy revealed a change in the WPAC structure in terms of the D
band intensity ratio after Cr(VI) adsorption. SEM-EDS analysis showed that the oxygen/carbon ratio on the WPAC surface increased from 9.85% to 17.74%. This result was confirmed by XPS measurements, which showed that 78.8% of Cr adsorbed on the WPAC surface was in the trivalent state. The amount of oxygen-containing functional groups on the surface increased due to the oxidation of graphitic carbons to C-OH and C=O groups.
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