Effect of Process Parameters on the Graphite Expansion Produced by a Green Modification of the Hummers Method

Molecules. 2022 Oct 31;27(21):7399. doi: 10.3390/molecules27217399.


Adsorption stand out among other standard techniques used for water treatment because of its remarkable simplicity, easy operation, and high removal capability. Expanded graphite has been selected as a promising agent for oil spill adsorption, but its production involves the generation of corrosive remnants and massive amounts of contaminated washing waters. Although the advantageous use of the H2O2-H2SO4 mixture was described in 1978, reported works using this method are scarce. This work deals with the urgent necessity for the development of alternative chemical routes decreasing their environmental impact (based on green chemistry concepts), presenting a process for expanded graphite production using only two intercalation chemicals, reducing the consumption of sulfuric acid to only 10% and avoiding the use of strong oxidant salts (both environmentally detrimental). Three process parameters were evaluated: milling effect, peroxide concentration, and microwave expansion. Some remarkable results were obtained following this route: high specific volumes elevated oil adsorption rate exhibiting a high oil-water selectivity and rapid adsorption. Furthermore, the recycling capability was checked using up to six adsorption cycles. Results showed that milling time reduces the specimen's expansion rate and oil adsorption capacity due to poor intercalant insertion and generation of small particle sizes.

Keywords: Hummers; exfoliation; graphite; green chemistry; milling.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Graphite*
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Petroleum Pollution*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis


  • Graphite
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical

Grant support

This project was supported by the CIMAV internal project 2022 number PI-22-09.