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Adsorption and desorption of dissolved organic matter by carbon nanotubes: Effects of solution chemistry


Increasing use of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) has led to their introduction into the environment where they can interact with dissolved organic matter (DOM). This study focuses on solution chemistry effects on DOM adsorption/desorption processes by single-walled CNTs (SWCNTs). Our data show that DOM adsorption is controlled by the attachment of DOM molecules to the SWCNTs, and that the initial adsorption rate is dependent on solution parameters. Adsorbed amount of DOM at high ionic strength was limited, possibly due to alterations in SWCNT bundling. Desorption of DOM performed at low pH resulted in additional DOM adsorption, whereas at high pH, adsorbed DOM amount decreased. The extent of desorption conducted at increased ionic strength was dependent on pre-adsorbed DOM concentration: low DOM loading stimulated additional adsorption of DOM, whereas high DOM loading facilitated release of adsorbed DOM. Elevated ionic strength and increased adsorbed amount of DOM reduced the oxidation temperature of the SWCNTs, suggesting that changes in the assembly of the SWCNTs had occurred. Moreover, DOM-coated SWCNTs at increased ionic strength provided fewer sites for atrazine adsorption. This study enhances our understanding of DOM–SWCNT interactions in aqueous systems influenced by rapid changes in salinity, and facilitates potential use of SWCNTs in water-purification technologies.