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The removal of sulfamethazine (SMT), tetracycline (TC) and chloramphenicol (CP) from synthetic wastewater by raw (M3) and nitrogen plasma modified steel shavings (M3-plN2) was investigated using batch experiments.

The adsorption kinetics could be expressed by both pseudo-first-order kinetic (PFO) and pseudo-second-order kinetic (PSO) models, where correlation coefficient r2 values were high. The values of PFO rate constant k1p and PSO rate constant k2p decreased as SMT-M3 > SMT-M3-plN2 > TC-M3-plN2 > TC-M3 > CP-M3 > CP-M3-plN2 and SMT-M3 > SMT-M3-plN2 > TC-M3 > TC-M3-plN2 > CP-M3 > CP-M3-plN2, respectively.

Solution pH, adsorbent dose and temperature exerted great influences on the adsorption process. The plasma modification with nitrogen gas cleaned and enhanced 1.7-fold the surface area and 1.4-fold the pore volume of steel shavings.

Consequently, the removal capacity of SMT, TC, CP on the adsorbent rose from 2519.98 to 2702.55, 1720.20 to 2158.36, and 2772.81 to 2920.11 μg/g, respectively. Typical chemical states of iron (XPS in Fe2p3 region) in the adsorbents which are mainly responsible for removing antibiotics through hydrogen bonding, electrostatic and non- electrostatic interactions and redox reaction were as follows: Fe3O4/Fe2 +, Fe3O4/Fe3 +, FeO/Fe2 + and Fe2O3/Fe3 +.

This article originally appeared in Science of The Total Environment 601–602, 2017, Pages 845-856.

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