Dewatered municipal sludge was used as raw material to prepare activated carbon (SAC), and the SAC was modified by walnut shell and nano-titanium dioxide (MSAC). The results showed that the MSAC had a higher specific surface area (SBET) (279.147 m2/g) and total pore volume (VT) (0.324 cm3/g) than the SAC. Simultaneously, the functional groups such as C-O, C = O, and Ti-O-Ti on the surface of MSAC were enhanced due to modification. These physicochemical properties provided prerequisites for the diffusion and degradation of pollutants in MSAC. Furthermore, the MSAC was applied to adsorb amoxicillin (AMX) from aqueous solution, in batch experiments, the maximum removal rate (88.19%) was observed at an initial AMX concentration of 30 mg/L, MSAC dosage of 5.0 g/L, pH of 8, contact time of 180 min, and temperature of 25 °C. In addition, the adsorption process was well described by the Freundlich isotherm model and pseudo-second-order kinetic model, indicating that the adsorption of AMX onto MSAC was dominated by multilayer chemisorption. Also, the adsorption thermodynamics suggested that the adsorption process of AMX onto MSAC was endothermic, feasible and spontaneous.
Sludge-based activated carbon was modified by walnut shell and nano-TiO2.
Above 88% of amoxicillin was removed.
Optimum operational parameters were determined.
Adsorption process was dominated by multi-layer chemisorption.