Preparation and characterisation of porous activated carbon using potassium hydroxide chemical activation with ultrasonic association

Thilagavathi Arumugham, Adhi Yuniarto, Norhayati Abdullah*, Ali Yuzir, Hesam Kamyab*, Nasrul Fikry Che Pa, Shahabaldin Rezania, M. N.M. Hatta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study uses ultrasonic-assisted chemical activation to describe an eco-friendly method for producing activated carbon with high specific surface area and porosity from high lignin-content palm kernel shells. The low activation temperature of 600 °C with the ultrasonic interaction was able to show excellent phenol and methylene blue adsorption, 72.67% and 67.52%, respectively. Carbonisation was carried out at 600 °C using argon gas to produce char, while chemical activation took place with the ultrasonic impregnation of 30% potassium hydroxide. During the activation phase, inert gas is reused as the oxidising agent at temperatures that vary from 600 to 750 and up to 900 °C. Palm kernel shell–activated carbon was characterised based on proximate analysis, field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), respectively. The adsorption of methylene, phenol, and iodine by activated carbon was studied in this study in order to investigate the porous structure. The maximum specific surface area and highest iodine adsorption of activated carbon prepared at 750 °C with 40 min of ultrasonic impregnation were 138.21 m2/g and 45.36%, respectively. In addition, the highest phenol adsorption was shown by activated carbon prepared at 600 °C with 40 min of ultrasonic impregnation, up to 72.67%. Meanwhile, the activated carbon was prepared at 600 °C activation temperature with 120 min of ultrasonic impregnation, resulting in the highest methylene blue adsorption, 67.52%. Furthermore, the demonstrated ultrasonic-assisted chemical activation approach has been demonstrated to be more effective than previous activation methods for producing activated carbon from palm kernel shells at low activation temperatures. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiomass Conversion and Biorefinery
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Activated carbon
  • Char
  • Palm kernel shell
  • Ultrasonication


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