Adsorbent materials created from wastewater sludge have unique surface characteristics and could be effective in adsorption applications. In this research, the sludge-adsorbents were generated by pyrolyzing mixtures of sewage sludge and H2SO4. Scanning electron microscope (SEM), thermal analysis, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscope (XPS) were used to analyze the properties of sludge-adsorbent. XPS results show that the adsorbent surface functional groups with high contents of oxygen-containing groups serve as active sites for the adsorption and affect the surface characteristics; the adsorption mechanism of methylene blue (MB) is mainly Brönsted acid-base reaction between the adsorbent surface and MB; and iodine atoms are bonded to the surface of the adsorbent mainly by dispersive interactions rather than by electrostatic interactions. The results also show that H2SO4 level, pyrolysis temperature and sulfuric acid/sludge weight ratio actually affected the adsorption characteristics. Using the conditions (H2SO4 level of 1–18 M, pyrolysis temperature of 650°C, and weight ratio of 0.8), the adsorption capacities for MB and iodine were 74.7–62.3 mg g−1 and 169.5–209.3 mg g−1, respectively.
Keywords: activation, adsorbent, iodine, methylene blue, pyrolysis, sewage sludge