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New Evidence for High Sorption Capacity of Hydrochar for Hydrophobic Organic Pollutants

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journal contribution
posted on 22.11.2016 by Lanfang Han, Kyoung S. Ro, Ke Sun, Haoran Sun, Ziying Wang, Judy A. Libra, Baoshan Xing
This study investigated the sorption potential of hydrochars, produced from hydrothermally carbonizing livestock wastes, toward organic pollutants (OPs) with a wide range of hydrophobicity, and compared their sorption capacity with that of pyrochars obtained from conventional dry pyrolysis from the same feedstock. Results of SEM, Raman, and 13C NMR demonstrated that organic carbon (OC) of hydrochars mainly consisted of amorphous alkyl and aryl C. Hydrochars exhibited consistently higher log Koc of both nonpolar and polar OPs than pyrochars. This, combined with the significantly less energy required for the hydrothermal process, suggests that hydrothermal conversion of surplus livestock waste into value-added sorbents could be an alternative manure management strategy. Moreover, the hydrochars log Koc values were practically unchanged after the removal of amorphous aromatics, implying that amorphous aromatic C played a comparable role in the high sorption capacity of hydrochars compared to amorphous alkyl C. It was thus concluded that the dominant amorphous C associated with both alkyl and aryl moieties within hydrochars explained their high sorption capacity for OPs. This research not only indicates that animal-manure-derived hydrochars are promising sorbents for environmental applications but casts new light on mechanisms underlying the high sorption capacity of hydrochars for both nonpolar and polar OPs.