PhD Defense - Amali Herath

March 9, 2021

8:00 am

Modified biochar adsorbents for aqueous contaminant remediation

Amali Herath

Department of Chemistry
Mississippi State University

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
8:00 AM
Library 1405


     Continuous population growth and rapid industrial advancement and development have paved the way for ever increasing environmental pollution. At present, water pollution is a serious global issue that threatens environmental sustainability. The contamination of aquatic bodies with potentially toxic organic and inorganic substances are the result of world-wide anthropogenic activities. These pollutants can have detrimental health consequences on humans and ecosystems. Over the past decades, techniques such as chemical precipitation, ion-exchange, adsorption, membrane filtration, and electrocoagulation–flocculation have been developed and employed for the treatment of drinking and wastewater. Among the currently available techniques, pollutant removal by adsorption is most promising due to its cost-effectiveness, simplicity in operation, environmental friendliness, and abundance of adsorbents. This study emphasized the utilization of biochar (BC), after appropriate surface modification, for the removal of potentially toxic contaminants.

     In the first study, a base activated biochar was synthesized by treating the biochar with potassium hydroxide (KOH) at 700 ℃ in a muffle furnace for 1 h. The resulting high surface area biochar (KOHBC) was used for the removal of Cr(VI), Pb(II) and Cd(II). In the second study, a biochar-supported polyaniline hybrid was synthesized for aqueous chromium and nitrate adsorption. Introduction of amine and imine groups to the biochar facilitated the removal of these contaminants. In the final study, a composite containing Fe-Ti oxide/biochar (Fe2TiO5/BC) was synthesized for sorptive removal of metal cations, oxy anions, inorganics, and organic contaminants from aqueous solutions. Additionally, this composite was used as a photocatalyst  towards aqueous methylene blue (MB) degradation. The surface chemistry and composition of these adsorbents were examined by PZC SEM, TEM, XPS, FTIR, TGA, elemental analysis, and surface area measurements.

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