Royal Society of Chemistry
Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology
Organic micropollutants are ubiquitous in the environment and stem from municipal wastewater treatment plant discharges. Adsorption can be used as a tertiary treatment to complement the conventional activated sludge process to remove micropollutants prior to discharge. This research evaluated the performance of wastewater biosolids-derived biochar as an adsorbent to remove triclosan from water. Pre-conditioning of the biochar using hydrochloric acid (HCl) was an essential step for triclosan adsorption. Using acid-conditioned biochar, maximum adsorption of 872 μg triclosan per g biochar was achieved with biochar produced at 800 °C. Biochar produced at higher pyrolysis temperatures tended to have higher triclosan sorption capacity using initial triclosan concentrations of 200 μg L−1 levels. However, pyrolysis temperature had less impact on triclosan sorption at lower, environmentally relevant concentrations. Low solution pH (3) enhanced adsorption and high pH (11) inhibited adsorption. Effective triclosan sorption was observed between pH 5 and 9, with little variation, which is positive for practical applications operated at near-neutral solution pH. In wastewater, acid-treated biochar also effectively sorbed triclosan, albeit at a decreased adsorption capacity and removal rate due to competition from other organic constituents. This study indicated that adsorption may occur mainly due to high surface area, hydrophobicity, and potential interaction between biochar and triclosan functional groups including hydrogen bonding and π-stacking. This work demonstrated that acid-conditioned biosolids-derived biochar could be a suitable sorbent to remove triclosan from wastewater as a final polishing treatment step.