Effects of solution chemistry on the adsorption of ibuprofen and triclosan onto carbon nanotubes

Hyun Hee Cho, Haiou Huang, Kellogg Schwab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), and oxidized MWCNTs (O-MWCNTs) were studied for the adsorption of ibuprofen (IBU) and triclosan (TCS) as representative types of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) under different chemical solution conditions. A good fitting of sorption isotherms was obtained using a Polanyi-Manes model (PMM). IBU and TCS sorption was stronger for SWCNTs than for MWCNTs due to higher specific surface area. The high oxygen content of O-MWCNT further depressed PPCP sorption. The sorption capacity of PPCPs was found to be pH-dependent, and more adsorption was observed at pHs below their pK a values. Ionic strength was also found to substantially affect TCS adsorption, with higher adsorption capacity observed for TCS at lower ionic strength. In the presence of a reference aquatic fulvic acid (FA), sorption of IBU and TCS was reduced due to the competitive sorption of FA on carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Sorption isotherm results with SWCNTs, MWCNTs and O-MWCNTs confirmed that the surface chemistry of CNTs, the chemical properties of PPCPs, and aqueous solution chemistry (pH, ionic strength, fulvic acid) all play an important role in PPCP adsorption onto CNTs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12960-12967
Number of pages8
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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