Adsorptive removal of cationic tricyclic antidepressants using cation-exchange resin

Jong Won Choi, John Kwame Bediako, Yufeng Zhao, Shuo Lin, Amit Kumar Sarkar, Minhee Han, Myung Hee Song, Chul Woong Cho*, Yeoung Sang Yun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to select a high-performance cation-exchange resin (CER) and estimate its uptake of positively ionized tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), i.e., amitriptyline (AMI), imipramine (IMI), clomipramine (CLO), and desipramine (DES), which are frequently used, and detected in wastewater treatment systems. For the selection of the resin, the one-point check test of AMI in distilled water was examined using several CERs. As a result, the strong-acid polystyrene CER, Dowex 50WX4-200, was selected on the basis of its outstanding uptake of AMI. The maximum adsorption capacities of Dowex 50WX4-200 for removal of the TCAs ranged from 2.53 ± 0.20 mmol/g to 3.76 ± 0.12 mmol/g, which are significantly higher when compared with those of previously reported adsorbents. This is likely because the combination of electrostatic and π-π interactions between the TCAs and Dowex 50WX4-200 may lead to high uptakes of the TCAs. Additionally, the removal efficiency of DES as a representative of the TCAs was tested in actual wastewater system containing activated sludge and miscellaneous cations. Consequently, the removal efficiencies of the DES in distilled water, aerobic wastewater, and filtered wastewater were 95.68%, 77.99%, and 56.66%, respectively. It is interesting to note that the activated sludge could also contribute to adsorption of the DES, leading to increased removability, while the cations present in the wastewater acted as competing ions, decreasing the removal efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24760-24771
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption
  • Cation-exchange resin
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Tricyclic antidepressant
  • Wastewater


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