Hongjian Zhu, Yuan Yao, Rui Wang This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Shandong University, Qingdao 266237, China


Received: August 29, 2020
Revised: September 17, 2020
Accepted: September 17, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.08.0540  

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Cite this article:

Zhu, H., Yao, Y., Wang, R. (2021). Comparative Study of the Effects of Various Activation Methods on the Desulfurization Performance of Petroleum Coke. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 21, 200540. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.08.0540


  • Petroleum coke was used as raw material to prepared activated carbon.
  • Six activation methods were used to prepare activated petroleum coke.
  • The sample activated with KOH/coke ratio of 4:1 works best.
  • The optimal conditions for desulfurization with K-PC were studied.


In this study, we activated different samples of petroleum coke, an economical carbonaceous substance with great potential as an activated carbon material for the removal of SO2, via six common methods, viz., hydrothermal, high-temperature, acid-based, alkali-based, H2O2-based and Cu2+-based treatment, and evaluated the desulfurization efficiency of each sample by investigating the dynamic SO2 adsorption along with various relevant factors. We found that high-temperature activation modified the structure and chemical properties of the petroleum coke, leading to an initial desulfurization efficiency of 76.4%, with a specific surface area of 59.0 m2 g–1, whereas acid-based treatment increased the SO2 removal rate to above 82%, producing a specific surface area as high as 247.7 m2 g–1. However, alkali-based treatment applied at a KOH/coke ratio of 4:1 achieved the best performance, with a desulfurization efficiency of 96.3% under the optimal conditions. Further comparison of the activated samples’ physicochemical properties revealed that both an optimized texture (due to the change in pore structure) and an increased number of active sites contributed to the enhanced desulfurization. Thus, our results demonstrate that activated petroleum coke exhibits several favorable properties that make it a promising sorbent for acidic SO2 in industrial flue gas desulfurization.

Keywords: Petroleum coke, Activation; SO2, Adsorption, Desulfurization

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