Disintegration of biochar adsorbent under the hydraulic conditions of fixed bed water treatment

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Abstract

Recent studies have provided promising evidence for potential applications of biochar in environmental engineering, including its use as an alternative carbonaceous adsorbent for water and wastewater treatment. Carbonaceous adsorbents, such as activated carbon and biochar, are prone to disintegration and erosion due to water flow, potentially leading to the co-transport of hazardous contaminants with eroded fine particles (1 μm or smaller). Despite its significance in overall performance assessment, the stability and erodibility of biochar as an adsorbent in fixed bed water treatment have received limited research attention. This paper presents the results of a series of filtration tests and microscopic examinations to evaluate the disintegration of activated carbon and three types of biochar filters under the hydraulic conditions of fixed bed filtration. A novel testing design was employed to study the effects of fluid velocities and ionic strengths on disintegration, mass loss, and the morphology of granular adsorbents before and after water flushing. The results indicate that disintegration of both activated carbon and biochar is continuous but exhibits different behaviour with pore volume. Although fluid velocity influenced erosion rates, minimal differences were observed in overall mass loss. Ionic strength had a more pronounced impact on the erodibility and stability of particles in suspension by altering electrical conductivity and Zeta potential. Disintegration of hardwood biochar was found to be comparable to that of activated carbon; however, impurities in biochar (elements other than carbon and oxygen) are more likely to be flushed out, creating additional pathways for co-transport of contaminants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139294
JournalChemosphere
Volume336
Early online date21 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

Keywords

  • Activated carbon
  • Biochar
  • Disintegration
  • Fixed bed filter
  • Water treatment plants

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