Speciation of the ionizable antibiotic sulfamethazine on black carbon (biochar)

Environmental Science & Technology
Marc TeixidóJordan Peccia


Adsorption of ionizable compounds by black carbon is poorly characterized. Adsorption of the veterinary antibiotic sulfamethazine (SMT; a.k.a., sulfadimidine; pK(a1) = 2.28, pK(a2) = 7.42) on a charcoal was determined as a function of concentration, pH, inorganic ions, and organic ions and molecules. SMT displayed unconventional adsorption behavior. Despite its hydrophilic nature (log K(ow) = 0.27), the distribution ratio K(d) at pH 5, where SMT(0) prevails, was as high as 10(6) L kg(-1), up to 10(4) times greater than literature reported K(oc). The K(d) decreases at high and low pH but not commensurate with the decline in K(ow) of the ionized forms. At pH 1, where SMT(+) is predominant and the surface is positive, a major driving force is π-π electron donor-acceptor interaction of the protonated aniline ring with the π-electron rich graphene surface, referred to as π(+)-π EDA, rather than ordinary electrostatic cation exchange. In the alkaline region, where SMT(-) prevails and the surface is negative, adsorption is accompanied by near-stoichiometric proton exchange with water, leading to the release of OH(-) and formation of an exceptionally strong H-bond between SMT(0) and a surface carboxylate or phenolate, classified as a n...Continue Reading


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