Mechanism of Adsorption of Cadmium and Lead Ions by Iron-activated Biochar

Liqiang Cui, Tianming Chen, Chuntao Yin, Jinlong Yan, James A. Ippolito, Qaiser Hussain


Heavy metal removal from aqueous matrices may help reduce disease and cancer incidences. In this study, reed biochar (RBC) and RBC modified by ferrous ammonium sulfate addition (1 mol Fe L-1) were compared for potential Cd and Pb removal from varying pH aqueous solutions. Surface functional groups were identified using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis, and their surface physicochemical structure was observed using scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive spectrometry (SEM-EDS). Batch experiments showed that the modified-reed biochar (MRBC) had greater Cd and Pb removal capacities over a wide pH range (1 to 8), as well as greater metal sorption capacities compared to RBC. Metal reaction kinetics occurred relatively quickly (i.e., within 60 min), and Langmuir modeling suggested that Cd and Pb removal by MRBC was maximized at 2.97 mg g−1 and 17.5 mg g−1 at 45 °C, respectively. The MRBC effectively sorbed Cd and Pb likely due to associations with functional groups modified by the Fe addition. In the future, MRBC may be used as an efficient and eco-friendly adsorbent for Cd and Pb removal from aqueous solutions and may help reduce water-borne issues associated with metal contamination.


Biochar; Reed biochar; Heavy metals; Amendment; Contaminated water

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