Wood-based activated biochar to eliminate organic micropollutants from biologically treated wastewater

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Aug 15:730:138417. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138417. Epub 2020 Apr 28.


Implementing advanced wastewater treatment (WWT) to eliminate organic micropollutants (OMPs) is a necessary step to protect vulnerable freshwater ecosystems and water resources. To this end, sorption of OMP by activated carbon (AC) is one viable technology among others. However, conventional AC production based on fossil precursor materials causes environmental pollution, including considerable emissions of greenhouse gases. In this study, we produced activated biochar (AB) from wood and woody residues by physical activation and evaluated their capability to eliminate OMPs in treated wastewater. Activated biochar produced under optimized conditions sorbed 15 model OMPs, of which most were dissociated at circumneutral pH, to the same or higher extent than commercial AC used as a reference. While wood quality played a minor role, the dosage of the activation agent was the main parameter controlling the capacity of ABs to eliminate OMP. Our results highlight the possibility for local production of AB from local wood or woody residues as a strategy to improve WWT avoiding negative side effects of conventional AC production.

Keywords: Activated carbon; Biochar; Organic micropollutants; Pyrolysis physical activation; Quaternary wastewater treatment; Steam activation.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Charcoal
  • Ecosystem
  • Wastewater
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Wood*


  • Waste Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • biochar
  • Charcoal