Chars originating from the burning or pyrolysis of vegetation may significantly sorb neutral organic contaminants (NOCs). To evaluate the relationship between the char composition and NOC sorption, a series of char samples were generated by pyrolyzing a wheat residue (Triticum aestivum L) for 6 h at temperatures between 300 ??C and 700 ??C and analyzed for their elemental compositions, surface areas, and surface functional groups. The samples were then studied for their abilities to sorb benzene and nitrobenzene from water. A commercial activated carbon was used as a reference carbonaceous sample. The char samples produced at high pyrolytic temperatures (500-700 ??C) were well carbonized and exhibited a relatively high surface area (>300 m2/g), little organic matter (<3%), and low oxygen content (???10%). By contrast, the chars formed at low temperatures (300-400 ??C) were only partially carbonized, showing significantly different properties (<200 m2/g surface area, 40-50% organic carbon, and >20% oxygen). The char samples exhibited a significant range of surface acidity/basicity because of their different surface polar-group contents, as characterized by the Boehm titration data and the NMR and FTIR spectra. The NOC sorption by high-temperature chars occurred almost exclusively by surface adsorption on carbonized surfaces, whereas the sorption by low-temperature chars resulted from the surface adsorption and the concurrent smaller partition into the residual organic-matter phase. The chars appeared to have a higher surface affinity for a polar solute (nitrobenzene) than for a nonpolar solute (benzene), the difference being related to the surface acidity/basicity of the char samples.
Additional publication details
Compositions and sorptive properties of crop residue-derived chars