Quantum-mechanical LSERs for the concentration-dependent adsorption of aromatic organic compounds by activated carbon: Applications and comparison with carbon nanotubes
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have taken precedence over activated carbon in various applications where adsorption is the primary process. The adsorption of chemical compounds by CNTs and activated carbon is most often predicted through linear free energy/solvation energy relationships (LFERs/LSERs). This work proposes quantum-mechanical LSER models based on a combination of quantum-mechanical descriptors and solvatochromic descriptors of LSERs for predicting the adsorption of aromatic organic compounds by activated carbon at varying adsorbate concentrations. The models are validated using state-of-the-art procedures employing an external prediction set of compounds. This work reveals the hydrogen bond donating and accepting ability of compounds to be the most influencing – but a negative – factor in the adsorption process of activated carbon. The quantum-mechanical LSERs proposed in this work are analysed and found to be equally reliable as the existing LSERs. These were further used to predict the adsorption of nucleobases, steroid hormones, agrochemicals, endocrine disruptors and pharmaceutical drugs. Notably, agrochemicals and endocrine disruptors are predicted to be adsorbed more strongly by activated carbon when compared with their adsorption by CNTs. However, quantum-mechanical LSERs predict the adsorption strength of biomolecules on activated carbon to be similar to that on the CNTs, which can be used to assess the risk associated with using carbon materials.