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 (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorSigurdur Thoroddsen (Supervisor)


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

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