Biosolids-Derived Biochar for Triclosan Removal from Wastewater

Lee K. Kimbell, Yiran Tong, Brooke K. Mayer, Patrick J. McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Micropollutants, including antibiotics, hormones, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products, are discharged into the environment with liquid and solid effluent streams from water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). The objective of this research was to determine whether biosolids-derived biochar (BS-biochar) could be used as a sorbent in continuous flow-through columns to remove micropollutants as a polishing step for wastewater treatment. Triclosan (TCS) was selected as a representative micropollutant due to frequent detection in liquid effluents, residual biosolids, and surface waters. Bench-scale column experiments were conducted to determine the effect of flow rate and competition due to the presence of other organic micropollutants and inorganic nutrients on TCS adsorption to BS-biochar. TCS removal efficiency was compared in Milli-Q water and secondary wastewater effluent by using two commercial adsorbents: a granular activated carbon and a wood-based biochar. Increased removal of TCS was observed at lower flow rates (2.6 gpm/ft2) compared with higher flow rates (10.3 gpm/ft2). Presence of inorganic nutrients (NH4 + and PO4 3-) and organic micropollutants 17β-estradiol and sulfamethoxazole decreased adsorption of TCS to BS-biochar. TCS was sorbed to BS-biochar in wastewater, but percent removal decreased in wastewater relative to Milli-Q water. This study demonstrated that BS-biochar can remove TCS from wastewater in continuous flow-through columns, although to a lesser extent than activated carbon. An additional benefit of using BS-biochar is that WRRFs could re-activate biochar on-site by using a pyrolysis reactor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-524
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Engineering Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the Marquette University Innovation Fund for funding this study. They would also like to thank Mr. Matthew Magruder from Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District for his guidance throughout the project.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2018, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2018.


  • adsorption
  • micropollutants
  • pyrolysis
  • water resource recovery facilities


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