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Kinetics and Mechanisms of Adsorption of Escherichia coli Bacteriophage T₄ to Activated Carbon


Cookson, John Thomas, Jr. (1966) Kinetics and Mechanisms of Adsorption of Escherichia coli Bacteriophage T₄ to Activated Carbon. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/BKTQ-2Q52.


A study was conducted on the adsorption of Escherichia coli bacteriophage T4 to activated carbon. Preliminary adsorption experiments were also made with poliovirus Type III. The effectiveness of such adsorbents as diatomaceous earth, Ottawa sand, and coconut charcoal was also tested for virus adsorption.

The kinetics of adsorption were studied in an agitated solution containing virus and carbon. The mechanism of attachment and site characteristics were investigated by varying pH and ionic strength and using site-blocking reagents.

Plaque assay procedures were developed for bacteriophage T4 on Escherichia coli cells and poliovirus Type III on monkey kidney cells. Factors influencing the efficiency of plaque formation were investigated.

The kinetics of bacteriophage T4 adsorption to activated carbon can be described by a reversible second-order equation. The reaction order was first order with respect to both virus and carbon concentration. This kinetic representation, however, is probably incorrect at optimum adsorption conditions, which occurred at a pH of 7.0 and ionic strength of 0.08. At optimum conditions the adsorption rate was satisfactorily described by a diffusion-limited process. Interpretation of adsorption data by a development of the diffusion equation for Langmuir adsorption yielded a diffusion coefficient of 12 X 10-8 cm2/sec for bacteriophage T4. This diffusion coefficient is in excellent agreement with the accepted value of 8 X 10-8 cm2/sec. A diffusion-limited theory may also represent adsorption at conditions other than the maximal. A clear conclusion on the limiting process cannot be made.

Adsorption of bacteriophage T4 to activated carbon obeys the Langmuir isotherm and is thermodynamically reversible. Thus virus is not inactivated by adsorption. Adsorption is unimolecular with very inefficient use of the available carbon surface area. The virus is probably completely excluded from pores due to its size.

Adsorption is of a physical nature and independent of temperature. Attraction is due to electrostatic forces between the virus and carbon. Effects of pH and ionic strength indicated that carboxyl groups, amino groups, and the virus's tail fibers are involved in the attachment of virus to carbon. The active sites on activated carbon for adsorption of bacteriophage T4 are carboxyl groups. Adsorption can be completely blocked by esterifying these groups.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Civil Engineering) ; Virus removal from water, virus adsorption mechanism, activated carbon
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Civil Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • North, Wheeler J.
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:4 November 1965
Funding AgencyGrant Number
United States Public Health Service5T1 ES-04
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:07212015-112716330
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9065
Deposited By: Bianca Rios
Deposited On:21 Jul 2015 23:14
Last Modified:27 Feb 2024 22:10

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