A novel adsorbent consisting of polyethyleneimine-modified multi-wall carbon nanotubes (PEI-MWCNTs) was synthesized by grafting PEI on the carboxyl MWCNTs. The surface properties of the PEI-MWCNTs were measured by scanning electron microscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, Fourier transform infrared, and zeta potential. The adsorption behavior of the PEI-MWCNTs was investigated using sunset yellow FCF as adsorbate. The effects of dosage of adsorbent, the initial pH of solution, contact time and temperature on the adsorption capacity were studied. Then, the kinetics and thermodynamics of the adsorption process were further investigated. Experimental results showed that the adsorption kinetics fitted a pseudo-second-order model and the adsorption isotherms agreed well with the Langmuir model. The adsorption process occurred very fast and the adsorption capacity of PEI-MWCNTs was much higher than that of many of the previously reported adsorbents. Additionally, the plausible adsorption mechanism was discussed.

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