Adsorption–desorption characteristics of methyl ethyl ketone with modified activated carbon and inhibition of 2,3-butanediol production

Kai Chun Nien, Feng Tang Chang, Moo Been Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Activated carbon (AC) is seldom applied for recovering ketone-based volatile organic compounds because of safety concerns. Adsorption of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) with AC is a highly exothermic reaction that potentially causes fires in AC beds. Moreover, 2,3-butanediol (BDO) is produced in the desorbed solvent, causing yellowing and odor of the recovered solvent. This study applied a continuous adsorption–desorption apparatus for evaluating the operating capacities and BDO concentration in recovered MEK containing modified and original ACs. AC-1 (TAKETA- G2X) was used as the target for modification. The experimental results indicate that using MgO as the modifier increases the ignition point by 12°C and that applying KNO3 as the modifier reduces the AC ignition point by 28°C (compared with AC-1). The BDO concentration of the desorbed MEK solvent can be reduced by increasing the loading of the modifying agent (Ethanolamine) (Im-1: 3.1 wt%; Im-5: 6.2 wt%). Moreover, applying the AC pretreated with nitrogen (Im-6) as adsorbent significantly reduces the BDO concentration (from 0.123 wt% to 0.073 wt%). Because desorption and purging procedures were performed in N2 atmospheres, the BDO concentrations of the desorbed MEK solvents were relatively low and ranged from 0.032 wt% to 0.043 wt%. When the MEK concentration was reduced to 2000 ppm, lower BDO concentrations (0.012–0.022 wt%) were measured in the recovered MEK solvent. The way to modify activated carbon and a better desorbing sequence to effectively inhibit the oxidation of MEK to BDO are developed. The results obtained indicate that the BDO concentration in the desorbed solvent was lower than the original MEK solvent (0.023 wt%). Different approaches can be applied simultaneously to achieve high inhibition effects; however, carbon adsorption performance may be negatively affected. Implications: The study is motivated to improve the quality of recovered solvent and reduce fire hazards, particularly when AC is applied for adsorbing a ketone-based solvent (e.g., MEK). The experimental results indicate that the BDO concentration in the recovered solvent can be reduced and the ignition point of AC can be increased by modifying the AC with an appropriate agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1326
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2015


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