Biochar application in organics and ultra-violet quenching substances removal from sludge dewatering leachate for algae production

Sabolc Pap, Gergely József Stankovits, Miklos Gyalai-Korpos, Magdolna Makó, István Erdélyi, Maja Turk Sekulic

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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Algae production in nutrient rich sludge dewatering leachate after biogas production is a promising option for wastewater treatment plants. However, the ultra-violet (UV) absorbing characteristic of UV-quenching substances (UVQS) existing in these waters can notably reduce the light transmission within the liquid body. The present work demonstrates a comparative adsorptive removal of UVQS, and other organic substances (expressed as COD and TOC) onto the “acid catalyst” functionalised adsorbent (PPhA) and commercial activated carbon (CAC) from leachate originating from leftover sludge dewatering after biogas production. Laboratory scale column studies were performed to investigate the adsorption performance of selected parameters. The PPhA increased the UV transmittance of leachate more than 4 times and outperformed CAC. Bed Depth Service Time and Yan models were used on the experimental data in order to estimate the maximum adsorption capacity and evaluate the characteristics of the fixed-bed. The PPhA equilibrium uptake of COD and TOC amounted to 5.7 mg/g and 0.9 mg/g, respectively. The postulated removal mechanism in environmentally relevant conditions (e.g., pH neutral) suggested a complex interaction between the biochar and organic macromolecules. Diluted phosphoric acid solution (0.01 mol/L) was successfully used for the column regeneration. Beside the UVQS, PPhA showed affinity towards toxic heavy metals (e.g., Pb, Ni, Co) pointing out the rich surface chemistry of the PPhA. Based on the obtained results and successfully implemented scale-up methodology, the low-cost PPhA adsorbent might effectively compete with the CAC as a highly efficient platform in wastewaters leachate processing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113446
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2021


  • Adsorption
  • Biogas leachate
  • Circular economy
  • Column study
  • Heavy metals
  • Scale-up


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