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Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Aug 6;47(15):8759-68. doi: 10.1021/es401756h. Epub 2013 Jul 19.

Dual role of biochars as adsorbents for aluminum: the effects of oxygen-containing organic components and the scattering of silicate particles.

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Department of Environmental Science, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China.


The adsorption of aluminum by biochars produced at different temperatures from rice straw (RS) and cattle manure (CM) was studied to determine the dual roles of biochar for aluminum adsorption. The compositional structures and surface charges of the biochars and ashes with and without Al loading were analyzed by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, ζ-potential, scanning electron microscopy, and X-ray diffraction. The Al adsorption isotherms were fit well by the Langmuir model. The adsorption of Al to the biochars produced at 400 and 700 °C was much greater than the adsorption to the precursory materials and ashes. We found that the organic components and silicate particles within the biochars served as dual adsorptive sites for Al. The complexation of Al with organic hydroxyl and carboxyl groups and the surface adsorption and coprecipitation of Al with silicate particles (as KAlSi3O8) both contributed to the Al adsorption of the biochars. After the biochars were loaded with Al, the ζ-potentials of the biochars and ashes increased as a function of pH. The positive charge was maximized at pH 4.5, which is similar to the pH at which the maximum positive charge occurs for silica. The charge reversal was caused by the Stern-layer adsorption of hydrolyzed aluminum species (i.e., Al(OH)(2+) and Al(OH)2(+)) on the silicate surfaces via hydrogen bonds.

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