In this paper, the enhanced adsorption of methylene blue (MB) dye ion on the activated carbon (AC) modified by three surfactants in aqueous solution was researched. Anionic surfactants—sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium dodecyl sulfonate (SDS)—and cationic surfactant—hexadecyl trimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB)—were used for the modification of AC. This work showed that the adsorption performance of cationic dye by activated carbon modified by anionic surfactants (SLS) was significantly improved, whereas the adsorption performance of cationic dye by activated carbon modified by cationic surfactant (CTAB) was reduced. In addition, the effects of initial MB concentration, AC dosage, pH, reaction time, temperature, real water samples, and additive salts on the adsorption were studied. When Na+
, and Mg2+
were present in the MB dye solution, the effect of these cations was negligible on the adsorption (<5%). The presence of NO2-
improved the adsorption performance significantly, whereas the removal rate of MB was reduced in the presence of competitive cation (Fe2+
). It was found that the isotherm data had a good correlation with the Langmuir isotherm through analyzing the experimental data by various models. The dynamics of adsorption were better described by the pseudo-second-order model and the adsorption process was endothermic and spontaneous. The results showed that AC modified by anionic surfactant was effective for the adsorption of MB dye in both modeling water and real water.
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