Lead(II) adsorption on microwave-pyrolyzed biochars and hydrochars depends on feedstock type and production temperature

Christopher Nzediegwu, M. Anne Naeth, Scott X. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Adsorption of lead(II) using carbon-rich chars is an environmentally sustainable approach to remediate lead(II) pollution in industrial wastewater. We studied mechanisms for lead(II) adsorption from synthetic wastewater by biochars produced by microwave-assisted pyrolysis and hydrochars by hydrothermal carbonization at three temperatures using four feedstocks. Lead(II) adsorption was highest (165 mg g−1) for canola straw biochar produced at 500 °C. Except for chars derived from sawdust, biochars outperformed hydrochars for lead(II) adsorption due to changes in solution pH driven by char pH. As char production temperature increased, lead(II) adsorption decreased in hydrochar mainly due to interaction with aromatic carbon but increased in biochar due to precipitation as hydrocerussite and lead oxide phosphate. Lead(II) adsorption also occurred via surface complexation and cation-ᴨ interaction, as the data fitted well to Freundlich, Langmuir and Temkin models, and the pseudo-first and pseudo-second order kinetic models, depending on feedstock type and production temperature. More than 80% of lead(II) adsorption occurred in the first 3 h for both types of chars; with a few exceptions, adsorption continued for almost 24 h. We conclude that production method, production temperature and feedstock type are crucial factors to consider in designing chars as adsorbents for removing lead(II) from wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125255
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorbent
  • Chemisorption
  • Film and pore diffusion
  • Precipitation
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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