Supercritical CO2 extraction of organic contaminants from aqueous streams



Supercritical fluid extraction (SCFE) for the removal of organic toxins from water has been studied using a continuous-flow view cell system. Distribution coefficients (ratio of mole fraction of contaminant in supercritical CO2 to mole fraction in the aqueous phase at equilibrium) have been determined for a homologous series of contaminants as individual components in pure water: benzene, phenol, p-chlorophenol, and m-cresol. Data were obtained at two temperatures (313 and 323 K) and over a pressure range of 9.65 to 17.23 MPa for each contaminant. The distribution coefficients of the contaminants follow a pattern that can be explained in terms of molecular interactions both with water in the aqueous phase (as quantified by the pure contaminant solubility in water) and with CO2 in the SCF phase (as quantified by the pure contaminant solubility in near-critical CO2 and crossover phenomena in SCF CO2). These results have been accurately modeled using a hardsphere, perturbation-theory-based Carnahan-Starling-DeSantis-Redlich-Kwong equation of state and simple van der Waals mixing rules.