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Biochar as low-cost sorbent of volatile fuel organic compounds: potential application to water remediation

Saiz-Rubio, Ruth, Balseiro-Romero, María, Antelo, Juan, Díez, Elena, Fiol, Sarah, Macías, Felipe
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.12 pp. 11605-11617
BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene), Eucalyptus, benzene, biochar, corn cobs, ethylbenzene, feedstocks, fuels, hydrophobicity, pyrolysis, remediation, sorbents, sorption, sorption isotherms, temperature, toluene, wastes, water pollution, xylene
Pyrolysis of waste materials to produce biochar is an excellent and suitable alternative supporting a circular bio-based economy. One of the properties attributed to biochar is the capacity for sorbing organic contaminants, which is determined by its composition and physicochemical characteristics. In this study, the capacity of waste-derived biochar to retain volatile fuel organic compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) and fuel oxygenates (FO)) from artificially contaminated water was assessed using batch-based sorption experiments. Additionally, the sorption isotherms were established. The results showed significant differences between BTEX and FO sorption on biochar, being the most hydrophobic and non-polar contaminants those showing the highest retention. Furthermore, the sorption process reflected a multilayer behaviour and a relatively high sorption capacity of the biochar materials. Langmuir and Freundlich models were adequate to describe the experimental results and to detect general differences in the sorption behaviour of volatile fuel organic compounds. It was also observed that the feedstock material and biochar pyrolysis conditions had a significant influence in the sorption process. The highest sorption capacity was found in biochars produced at high temperature (> 400 °C) and thus rich in aromatic C, such as eucalyptus and corn cob biochars. Overall, waste-derived biochar offers a viable alternative to be used in the remediation of volatile fuel organic compounds from water due to its high sorption capacity.