Main content area

Manipulation of Persistent Free Radicals in Biochar To Activate Persulfate for Contaminant Degradation

Fang, Guodong, Liu, Cun, Gao, Juan, Dionysiou, Dionysios D., Zhou, Dongmei
Environmental Science & Technology 2015 v.49 no.9 pp. 5645-5653
biochar, biomass, catechol, chemical degradation, copper, hydroquinone, iron, nickel, phenol, polluted soils, polychlorinated biphenyls, remediation, sulfates, superoxide anion, zinc
This study investigated the effects of metals (Fe³⁺, Cu²⁺, Ni²⁺, and Zn²⁺) and phenolic compounds (PCs: hydroquinone, catechol, and phenol) loaded on biomass on the formation of persistent free radicals (PFRs) in biochar. It was found that metal and phenolic compound treatments not only increased the concentrations of PFRs in biochar but also changed the types of PFRs formed, which indicated that manipulating the amount of metals and PCs in biomass may be an efficient method to regulate PFRs in biochar. These results provided direct evidence to elucidate the mechanism of PFR formation in biochar. Furthermore, the catalytic ability of biochar toward persulfate activation for the degradation of contaminants was evaluated. The results indicated that biochar activates persulfate to produce sulfate radicals (SO₄•–) and degraded polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) efficiently. It was found that both the concentration and type of PFRs were the dominant factors controlling the activation of persulfate by biochar and that superoxide radical anions account for 20–30% of sulfate radical generation in biochar/persulfate. This conclusion was supported by linear correlations between the concentration of PFRs consumed and the formation of SO₄•– and between λ (λ = [formed sulfate radicals]/[consumed PFRs]) and g-factors. The findings of this study provide new methods to manipulate PFR concentration in biochar for the transformation of contaminants and development of new alternative activators for persulfate-based remediation of contaminated soils.