Effects of Biomass Type, Carbonization Process, and Activation Method on the Properties of Bio-Based Activated Carbons

Virpi Siipola, Tarja Tamminen, Anssi Källi, Riikka Lahti, Henrik Romar, Kimmo Rasa, Riikka Keskinen, Jari Hyväluoma, Markus Hannula, Hanne Wikberg


Activated carbons (AC) serve as adsorbents in various applications requiring specific functionalities. In this study, the effects of biomass type, pre-carbonization process, and activation method on the properties of ACs were investigated. Chemical (KOH and H3PO4) and physical (CO2) activations were performed on slow pyrolyzed and hydrothermally carbonized (HTC) biochars produced from two feedstocks, willow and Scots pine bark (SPB). In addition, the adsorption capacities of the ACs were tested with two dyes and zinc metal. Distinct differences were found between the biochars and ACs regarding pore size distributions, surface area (238 - 3505 m2 g-1), and surface chemistry. KOH activation produced highly microporous ACs from all biochars, whereas with H3PO4 and CO2 there was also increase in the meso- and macroporosity with the HTC biochars. Adsorption capacity for dyes was dependent on the surface area, while for zinc it depended on AC’s pH. The results provide interesting insights into tailoring ACs for specific applications.


Biochar; Activated carbon; Bio-based activated carbon; Willow; Pine bark; X-ray tomography

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