Efficient removal of priority, hazardous priority and emerging pollutants with Prunus armeniaca functionalized biochar from aqueous wastes: Experimental optimization and modeling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle




  • Maja Turk Sekulić
  • Sabolč Pap
  • Zoran Stojanović
  • Nikola Bošković
  • Jelena Radonić
  • Tatjana Šolević Knudsen

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-750
Number of pages14
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date1 Feb 2018
StateE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2018

    Research areas

  • Engineered biochar, Green technology, Wastewater treatment, Heavy metal, Naproxen, Chlorophenol


This paper investigates the ability of the phosphoric acid functionalized Prunus armeniaca stones biochar (AsPhA) prepared by thermochemical activation to remove lead (Pb2 +), cadmium (Cd2 +), nickel (Ni2 +), naproxen and chlorophenols from aqueous wastes. The engineered biochar was characterized using the Scanning Electron Microscopy, Energy-dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy and Brunauer, Emmett and Teller technique. The batch studies were performed by varying the initial pH of the solution (2–9), adsorbent dosage (0.2–10 g L− 1), contact time (5–60 min), temperature (22, 32 and 42 °C) and initial adsorbate concentration (5–500 mg L− 1). With the optimal process conditions, the adsorption efficiency was over 95% (100 mg L− 1). The results were fitted with three kinetic and three equilibrium theoretical adsorption models. The adsorption process has good correlation with pseudo-second-order reaction kinetics. Adsorption mechanism was found to be controlled by pore, film and particle diffusion, throughout the entire adsorption period. The monolayer adsorption capacities were found to be 179.476, 105.844 and 78.798 mg g− 1 for Pb2 +, Cd2 + and Ni2 +, respectively. Thermodynamic parameters such as Gibbs energy, enthalpy and entropy were also calculated. Additionally, preliminary results indicated a strong affinity of the biochar for selected organic micropollutants: naproxen and chlorophenols. Based on desorption study results, biochar was successfully regenerated in 3 cycles with diluted phosphoric acid produced as a waste stream during washing of the biochar after thermochemical activation. The experimental results were applied in a two-stage completely stirred tank reactor design. Cost estimation of AsPhA production substantiated its cost effectiveness and adsorption costs of selected pollutants were 5 times lower than with the commercial activated carbons. Based on the low-cost and high capacity, engineered biochar can be used as a highly efficient eco-friendly adsorbent for removal of heavy metal and organic micropollutants from wastewaters systems.

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