The present work highlights the preparation of activated carbons (ACs) using spent coffee grounds, an agricultural residue, as carbon precursor and two different activating agents: water vapor (ACW) and K2CO3 (ACK). These ACs presented the microporous nature and high surface area (620–950 m2 g−1). The carbons, as well as a commercial activated carbon (CAC) used as reference, were evaluated as phenol adsorbent showing high adsorption capacity (≈150 mg g−1). The investigation of the pH solution in the phenol adsorption was also performed. The different activating agents led to AC with distinct morphological properties, surface area and chemical composition, although similar phenol adsorption capacity was verified for both prepared carbons. The production of activated carbons from spent coffee grounds resulted in promising adsorbents for phenol removal while giving a noble destination to the residue.
Keywords: activated carbon, adsorption, phenol, spent coffee grounds