Towards low-cost and sustainable activated carbon production: influence of microwave activation time on yield and CO2 uptake of PET-derived adsorbents

Emmanuel Udo Dan, Alan McCue, Davide Dionisi, Claudia Fernandez Martin* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Microwave (MW) heating is proposed as a method to transform polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into porous adsorbents. The yield, textural properties, and CO2 uptake of the PET derived adsorbents irradiated at different durations (3 – 35 min) at 400o C were assessed. MW
activation time influenced both the physical properties and CO2 uptake capacities of the
resulting adsorbents. The yield decreased with activation time, but the surface area, total pore volume, micropore volume, and CO2 uptake capacities all increased with MW activation time before declining. The optimal sample (produced with 5 min of MW activation time) showed improved textural properties as well as higher equilibrium and dynamic CO2 uptakes than the commercial activated carbon used as reference. This adsorbent also possesses good selectivity for CO2 in the binary 10:90 %vol/vol CO2: N2 mixture. Additionally, an excellent recyclability over 20 cycles, (Regeneration Efficiency > 97%) was observed, and the CO2 adsorption kinetics best fits Lagergren’s pseudo-second-order model. This study has shown that a low activation temperature (400oC), a short MW activation time (5 min), and a low amount of chemical agent (KOH, 0.72 M) could produce CO2 adsorbents from a cheap and abundant material (PET-waste) with better CO2 uptake to that of a commercial activated carbon.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102807
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of CO2 Utilization
Early online date25 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Nigeria, for funding the Doctoral programme of Emmanuel Dan at the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom. Dr Claudia Fernández Martín acknowledges the Development Trust for the Grant 1155 awarded for the acquisition of the microwave instrument, FlexiWave from Milestone. For open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.

Data Availability Statement

No data was used for the research described in the article.


  • Polyethylene terephthalate
  • microwave activation
  • adsorption
  • activated carbon
  • carbon capture


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