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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4491/eer.2021.522
Surface modification of Trema orientalis wood biochar using natural coconut vinegar and its potential to remove aqueous calcium ions: column and batch studies
M.M. Udawatta, R.C.L. De Silva, and D.S.M. De Silva
Department of Chemistry, University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Corresponding Author: R.C.L. De Silva ,Tel: +94 (0)11 2 903 271, Email: russel@kln.ac.lk
Received: October 18, 2021;  Accepted: December 29, 2021.
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ABSTRACT
Recent investigations have revealed the harmful health effects of elevated calcium levels in drinking water. Chemically activated biochar is the most popular option for low-cost cation adsorption. However, most of these chemicals are hardly available for rural communities, corrosive, and difficult to handle by unskilled personnel. This study aimed to determine the ability of natural coconut vinegar, a common mild acid, to activate Trema orientalis wood biochar pyrolyzed at 300ºC (BC) as a facile, safe, and low-cost approach for aqueous calcium ion (Ca2+) removal. Column tests showed a two-fold increase of Ca2+ adsorption capacity and a ten-fold increase of Ca2+ retaining capacity of BC after activation with vinegar. The isotherm results were well correlated with the Langmuir model. The maximum Langmuir adsorption of the activated biochar (BC-A) was 9.96 mg/g. Ca2+ amount was determined using flame photometry. EDX analysis showed that the O/C ratio of BC increased from 0.07 to 0.13 after activation. FTIR and wettability studies showed increased oxygenated functional groups on the BC-A surface. The authors suggest a possible acid-catalyzed hydration of the C-O-C bridges of the biochar, introducing new hydroxyl/carbonyl/ester/carboxylic/lactone groups to the biochar surface due to the vinegar activation, enhancing Ca2+ adsorption through chemisorption.
Keywords: Adsorption capacity | Adsorption isotherms | Biochar | Calcium | Coconut vinegar | Trema orientalis
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