Adsorption Characteristics of Water and Silica Gel System for Desalination Cycle

  • Oscar R. Cevallos

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


An adsorbent suitable for adsorption desalination cycles is essentially characterized by a hydrophilic and porous structure with high surface area where water molecules are adsorbed via hydrogen bonding mechanism. Silica gel type A++ possesses the highest surface area and exhibits the highest equilibrium uptake from all the silica gels available in the market, therefore being suitable for water desalination cycles; where adsorbent’s adsorption characteristics and water vapor uptake capacity are key parameters in the compactness of the system; translated as feasibility of water desalination through adsorption technologies. The adsorption characteristics of water vapor onto silica gel type A++ over a temperature range of 30 oC to 60 oC are investigated in this research. This is done using water vapor adsorption analyzer utilizing a constant volume and variable pressure method, namely the Hydrosorb-1000 instrument by Quantachrome. The experimental uptake data is studied using numerous isotherm models, i. e. the Langmuir, Tóth, generalized Dubinin-Astakhov (D-A), Dubinin-Astakhov based on pore size distribution (PSD) and Dubinin-Serpinski (D-Se) isotherm for the whole pressure range, and for a pressure range below 10 kPa, proper for desalination cycles; isotherms type V of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) classification were exhibited. It is observed that the D-A based on PSD and the D-Se isotherm models describe the best fitting of the experimental uptake data for desalination cycles within a regression error of 2% and 6% respectively. All isotherm models, except the D-A based on PSD, have failed to describe the obtained experimental uptake data; an empirical isotherm model is proposed by observing the behavior of Tóth and D-A isotherm models. The new empirical model describes the water adsorption onto silica gel type A++ within a regression error of 3%. This will aid to describe the advantages of silica gel type A++ for the design of adsorption desalination processes where reducing capital cost and footprint area are highly important parameters to take into account.
Date of AwardJul 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Science and Engineering
SupervisorSigurdur Thoroddsen (Supervisor)


  • Adsorption
  • Silica gel
  • Isotherm model
  • Pore size distribution
  • Desalination
  • Dubinin Astakhov

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