The Separation of Emulsified Water/Oil Mixtures through Adsorption on Plasma-Treated Polyethylene Powder
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This work addresses the preparation and characterization of efficient adsorbents for tertiary treatment (oil content below 100 ppm) of oil/water emulsions. Powdered low-density polyethylene (LDPE) was modified by radio-frequency plasma discharge and then used as a medium for the treatment of emulsified diesel oil/water mixtures in the concentration range from 75 ppm to 200 ppm. Plasma treatment significantly increased the wettability of the LDPE powder, which resulted in enhanced sorption capability of the oil component from emulsions in comparison to untreated powder. Emulsions formed from distilled water and commercial diesel oil (DO) with concentrations below 200 ppm were used as a model of oily polluted water. The emulsions were prepared using ultrasonication without surfactant. The droplet size was directly proportional to sonication time and ranged from 135 nm to 185 nm. A sonication time of 20 min was found to be sufficient to prepare stable emulsions with an average droplet size of approximately 150 nm. The sorption tests were realized in a batch system. The effect of contact time and initial oil concentrations were studied under standard atmospheric conditions at a stirring speed of 340 rpm with an adsorbent particle size of 500 microns. The efficiency of the plasma-treated LDPE powder in oil removal was found to be dependent on the initial oil concentration. It decreased from 96.7% to 79.5% as the initial oil concentration increased from 75 ppm to 200 ppm. The amount of adsorbed oil increased with the increasing contact time. The fastest adsorption was observed during the first 30 min of treatment. The adsorption kinetics for emulsified oils onto sorbent followed a pseudo-second-order kinetic model.