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Enhanced removal of Cr(VI) by biochar with Fe as electron shuttles

Xu, Jingwen, Yin, Yongguang, Tan, Zhiqiang, Wang, Bowen, Guo, Xiaoru, Li, Xia, Liu, Jingfu
Journal of environmental sciences (China) 2019 v.78 pp. 109-117
adsorption, biochar, chromium, environmental fate, iron, moieties, pH, pollutants, pyrolysis, remediation, soil, soil amendments, temperature
Biochar is extensively used as an effective soil amendment for environmental remediation. In addition to its strong contaminant sorption capability, biochar also plays an important role in chemical transformation of contaminant due to its inherent redox-active moieties. However, the transformation efficiency of inorganic contaminants is generally very limited when the direct adsorption of contaminants on biochar is inefficient. The present study demonstrates the role of Fe ion as an electron shuttle to enhance Cr(VI) reduction by biochars. Batch experiments were conducted to examine the effects of Fe(III) levels, pyrolysis temperature of biochar, initial solution pH, and biochar dosage on the efficiency of Cr(VI) removal. Results showed a significant enhancement in Cr(VI) reduction with an increase in Fe(III) concentration and a decrease of initial pH. Biochar produced at higher pyrolysis temperatures (e.g., 700°C) favored Cr(VI) removal, especially in the presence of Fe(III), while a higher biochar dosage proved unfavorable likely due to the agglomeration or precipitation of biochar. Speciation analysis of Fe and Cr elements on the surface of biochar and in the solution further confirmed the role of Fe ion as an electron shuttle between biochar and Cr(VI). The present findings provide a potential strategy for the advanced treatment of Cr(VI) at low concentrations as well as an insight into the environmental fate of Cr(VI) and other micro-pollutants in soil or aqueous compartments containing Fe and natural or engineered carbonaceous materials.