An original activated carbon prepared from walnut peel, which was activated by zinc chloride, was modified with ammonium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide in order to contrast the adsorption property of the three different activated carbons. The experiment used a static adsorption test for p-nitrophenol. The effects of parameters such as initial concentration, contact time and pH value on amount adsorbed and removal are discussed in depth. The thermodynamic data of adsorption were analyzed by Freundlich and Langmuir models. The kinetic data of adsorption were measured by the pseudo-first-order kinetics and the pseudo-second-order kinetics models. The results indicated that the alkalized carbon samples derived from walnut peel had a better performance than the original activated carbon treated with zinc chloride. It was found that adsorption equilibrium time was 6 h. The maximum removal rate of activated carbon treated with zinc chloride for p-nitrophenol was 87.3% at pH 3,whereas the maximum removal rate of the two modified activated carbon materials was found to be 90.8% (alkalized with ammonium hydroxide) and 92.0% (alkalized with sodium hydroxide) at the same pH. The adsorption data of the zinc chloride activated carbon were fitted to the Langmuir isotherm model. The two alkalized activated carbon samples were fitted well to the Freundlich model. The pseudo-second-order dynamics equation provided better explanation of the adsorption dynamics data of the three activated carbons than the pseudo-first-order dynamics equation.

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