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Phenol and Cr(VI) removal using materials derived from harmful algal bloom biomass: Characterization and performance assessment for a biosorbent, a porous carbon, and Fe/C composites

Cui, Yanbin, Masud, Arvid, Aich, Nirupam, Atkinson, John D.
Journal of hazardous materials 2019 v.368 pp. 477-486
adsorption, algae, algal blooms, biomass, biosorbents, carbon, carbonization, chromium, hydrochemistry, ionic strength, iron, iron oxides, moieties, nitrogen, pH, phenol, pyrolysis, remediation, surface area, water treatment, Lake Erie
Lake Erie experiences annual harmful algal blooms (HAB), but generated HAB biomass may provide a waste-based precursor for environmental remediation materials. Three classes of materials (i.e., algal powder biosorbent, porous carbon, and iron/carbon (Fe/C) composite) are prepared from HAB biomass. Algal powder is nonporous with diverse functional groups. Porous carbon, prepared via one-pot carbonization and activation, has surface area up to 430 m2/g. Fe/Cs are prepared by cultivating HAB biomass in iron-rich media, followed by one-pot pyrolysis. Fe/Cs have over 6 wt% iron (Fe0 and Fe3O4) and nitrogen doping (up to 4 wt%). Materials were applied in phenol and Cr(VI) removal tests to identify preferred products for use in water treatment applications. In deionized water, porous carbon removes the most phenol (52 mg/g), followed by algal powder (38 mg/g) and Fe/C (33 mg/g). Micropore volume and functional groups improve phenol removal. Cr(VI) removal follows: Fe/C (43 mg/g) > porous carbon (28 mg/g) > algal powder (17 mg/g), with synergistic adsorption and reduction elevating Fe/C’s performance. Cr(VI) and phenol removal studies were completed with variable pH, ionic strength, and water composition to highlight application potential. This work proposes HAB biomass reuse for pollution control, investigating interaction mechanisms between materials and contaminants.