From waste cooking oil to oxygen-rich onion-like nanocarbons for the removal of hexavalent chromium from aqueous solutions
Keywords:waste cooking oil, hexavalent chromium, onion-like nanocarbons, pyrolysis
Vegetable cooking oil is used in domestic and commercial kitchens owing to its ability to modify and enhance the taste of the food through the frying process. However, as the oil is used through several frying cycles, it changes colour to dark brown and acquires an unpleasant smell. At this point, the waste oil is usually discarded, thereby finding its way into freshwater streams due to poor disposal and thus becoming an environmental pollutant. To provide an alternative, ‘green’ route to waste oil disposal, herein we report on the metal-free synthesis of onion-like nanocarbons (OLNCs) made from waste cooking oil via flame pyrolysis. The OLNCs were then applied in the removal of hexavalent chromium ions from aqueous solutions. The as-synthesised OLNCs were found to have similar properties (size, quasi-spherical shape etc.) to those synthesised from pure cooking oils. The Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy data showed that the OLNCs contained C-O-type moieties which were attributed to the oxygenation process that took place during the cooking process. The OLNCs from waste oil were applied as an adsorbent for Cr(VI) and showed optimal removal conditions at pH = 2, t = 360 min, Co = 10 mg/L and Q0max = 47.62 mg/g, superior to data obtained from OLNCs prepared from pristine cooking oil. The results showed that the OLNCs derived from the waste cooking oil were effective in the removal of hexavalent chromium. Overall, this study shows how to repurpose an environmental pollutant (waste cooking oil) as an effective adsorbent for pollutant (Cr(VI)) removal.
- Waste cooking oil outperformed olive oil as a starting material for the production of OLNCs for the removal of toxic Cr(VI) from water.
- The superior performance of the OLNCs from waste cooking oil was attributed to the higher oxygen content found on their surface and acquired through the cooking process.
- Not only are the OLNCs produced from waste cooking oil effective in the removal of Cr(VI), but they can be used multiple times before replacement, which makes them sustainable.
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