Activated carbons (ACs) were prepared from dried spent coffee (SCD), a biological waste product, to produce adsorbents for methylene blue (MB) and methyl orange (MO) from aqueous solution. Pre-pyrolysis activation of SCD was achieved via treatment of the SCD with aqueous sodium hydroxide solutions at 90 °C. Pyrolysis of the pretreated SCD at 500 °C for 1 h produced powders with typical characteristics of AC suitable and effective for dye adsorption. As an alternative to the rather harsh base treatment, calcium carbonate powder, a very common and abundant resource, was also studied as an activator. Mixtures of SCD and CaCO3 (1:1 w/w) yielded effective ACs for MO and MB removal upon pyrolysis needing only small amounts of AC to clear the solutions. A selectivity of the adsorption process toward anionic (MO) or cationic (MB) dyes was not observed.
Keywords: activated carbon; calcium carbonate; dye adsorption; dye removal; methyl orange; methylene blue; spent coffee; water; water treatment.