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Characterization of potassium hydroxide (KOH) modified hydrochars from different feedstocks for enhanced removal of heavy metals from water

Sun, Kejing, Tang, Jingchun, Gong, Yanyan, Zhang, Hairong
Environmental science and pollution research international 2015 v.22 no.21 pp. 16640-16651
adsorbents, adsorption, aqueous solutions, cadmium, copper, corn, corn stover, heavy metals, hydrochars, hydrothermal carbonization, lead, models, pH, physical properties, potassium hydroxide, remediation, sawdust, sorption isotherms, wheat straw, zinc
Hydrochars produced from different feedstocks (sawdust, wheat straw, and corn stalk) via hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) and KOH modification were used as alternative adsorbents for aqueous heavy metals remediation. The chemical and physical properties of the hydrochars and KOH-treated hydrochars were characterized, and the ability of hydrochars for removal of heavy metals from aqueous solutions as a function of reaction time, pH, and initial contaminant concentration was tested. The results showed that KOH modification of hydrochars might have increased the aromatic and oxygen-containing functional groups, such as carboxyl groups, resulting in about 2–3 times increase of cadmium sorption capacity (30.40–40.78 mg/g) compared to that of unmodified hydrochars (13.92–14.52 mg/g). The sorption ability among different feedstocks after modification was as the following: sawdust > wheat straw > corn stack. Cadmium sorption kinetics on modified hydrochars could be interpreted with a pseudo-second order, and sorption isotherm was simulated with Langmuir adsorption model. High cadmium uptake on modified hydrochars was observed over the pH range of 4.0–8.0, while for other heavy metals (Pb²⁺, Cu²⁺, and Zn²⁺) the range was 4.0–6.0. In a multi-metal system, the sorption capacity of heavy metals by modified hydrochars was also higher than that by unmodified ones and followed the order of Pb(II) > Cu(II) > Cd(II) > Zn(II). The results suggest that KOH-modified hydrochars can be used as a low cost, environmental-friendly, and effective adsorbent for heavy metal removal from aqueous solutions.