In this paper, activated carbon (AC) was modified by immersing it in different solutions, including mixed acid solutions, ammonia solutions, KMnO4 solutions and surfactant solutions, to improve its adsorption efficiency of endocrine disrupting compounds. Changes in the surface chemistry and the porous structure were assessed by specific surface area and porosity analyser, SEM, FT-IR, and Boehm titration. The best modification method of activated carbon was determined by static adsorption experiments, and the adsorption mechanism of modified activated carbon was discussed. The results showed that KMnO4 modified activated carbon (AC-K) had the best contaminant adsorption performance. The removal rates of DBP, Atrazine and SMZ by AC-K were 94.5%, 93.8% and 95.5%, respectively, and the adsorption process was in accordance with second-order kinetic equation and D-R model. From the calculated results of these models, we found that the adsorption rates of AC-K on the target pollutants were significantly accelerated, and the secondary adsorption rate constant of Atrazine was 1.75 times than that of AC. The theoretical saturated adsorption capacity of DBP, Atrazine and SMZ by AC-K were improved by 42.2%, 629% and 122%, respectively, compared with those before modification. The adsorption mechanism of activated carbon was transformed from physical adsorption into ion exchange adsorption, after modified by KMnO4.
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