There is increasing interest in using pyrogenic carbon as an adsorbent for aqueous contaminants in stormwater. The objective of this study was to investigate pyrogenic carbon materials as an amendment to geomedia to reduce nitrate leaching. Batch adsorption and column experiments were conducted to evaluate the performance of a commercial activated carbon and two biochars incorporated (5% by weight) into sand and pumice columns. The batch adsorption with 50 mg L−1 of nitrate solution showed that only activated carbon resulted in a substantial adsorption for nitrate up to 41%. Tested biochars were not effective in removing aqueous nitrate and even released nitrate.Tested biochars were not effective in removing aqueous nitrate and even released nitrate (<1%) with 1 h reaction time. Column experiment with a pulse input of nitrate solution (50 mg L−1) confirmed that the sand or pumice columns amended with biochars were not as effective as those amended with activated carbon for reducing nitrate leaching. Our results suggested that net negatively charged surfaces of biochar may inhibit nitrate anion adsorption while activated carbon has reactive sites containing acidic functional groups to improve nitrate retention. There was no difference between sand and pumice for nitrate retention in any of the carbon amendments. Additional surface activation process during biochar production may be needed to improve adsorptive capacity of biochar for aqueous nitrate removal.
Kang, J.; Davila, M.; Mireles, S.; Ho, J. Nitrate Leaching from Sand and Pumice Geomedia Amended with Pyrogenic Carbon Materials. Environments 2017, 4, 70. https://doi.org/10.3390/environments4040070
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