Term of Award

Summer 2015

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Engineering (M.S.A.E.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

George Fu

Committee Member 1

Mike Jackson

Committee Member 2

Pete Rogers


Two environmental concerns currently face Georgia: coal fly ash (CFA) waste from coal power plants, and the effluent generated by pulp mills. Pulp mill effluent discolors surface waters into which it is discharged, and has been proven to negatively impact the dissolved oxygen and carbon necessary for aquatic life. The proposed solution is a cost-effective adsorption treatment using an inexpensive but abundantly available waste material: CFA. CFA possesses beneficial properties that allow it to effectively remove contaminants, and is available at significantly reduced cost. The primary research objective was to define treatment parameters that would result in the maximum removal of effluent color at the lowest CFA dosage and process cost. Experimentation consisted of batch adsorption studies and several test parameters were varied to determine their effect on removal. Kinetic and isotherm studies were also conducted using the optimal conditions, and the data was fitted to existing adsorption models. In addition, a column study was completed to observe CFA in a continuous flow setting. The research produced a cost-effective adsorption process resulting in 80% color removal, and required no effluent pH adjustment. Color removal by CFA was observed to occur primarily in the first hour, with the adsorption achieving equilibrium at 24 hours. Additionally, the Ho et al. kinetic model and the Langmuir and Freundlich isotherm models best described the observed adsorption phenomena. Overall, this research found CFA to be a promising low-cost adsorbent for the removal of color from pulp mill effluent.

Research Data and Supplementary Material