Clay-biochar composites for sorptive removal of tetracycline antibiotic in aqueous media

K. S.D. Premarathna, Anushka Upamali Rajapaksha, Nadeesh Adassoriya, Binoy Sarkar, Narayana M.S. Sirimuthu, Asitha Cooray, Yong Sik Ok, Meththika Vithanage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


The focus of this research was to synthesize novel clay-biochar composites by incorporating montmorillonite (MMT) and red earth (RE) clay materials in a municipal solid waste (MSW) biochar for the adsorptive removal of tetracycline (TC) from aqueous media. X-ray Fluorescence Analysis (XRF), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Powder X-ray Diffraction (PXRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) were used for the characterization of the synthesized raw biochar (MSW-BC) and clay-biochar composites (MSW-MMT and MSW-RE). Results showed that minute clay particles were dispersed on biochar surfaces. The FTIR bands due to Si-O functional group vibrations in the spectra of the clay-biochar composites provided further evidence for successful composite formation. The kinetic TC adsorption data of MSW-MMT were well fitted to the Elovich model expressing high surface activity of biochar and involvement of multiple mechanisms in the adsorption. The kinetic TC adsorption data of MSW-BC and MSW-RE were fitted to the pseudo second order model indicating dominant contribution of chemisorption mechanism during the adsorption. The adsorption differentiation obtained in the kinetic studies was mainly due to the structure of the combined clay material. The adsorption isotherm data of all the adsorbents were well fitted to the Freundlich model suggesting that the adsorption of TC onto the materials occurred via both physisorption and chemisorption mechanisms. In comparison to the raw biochar and MSW-RE, MSW-MMT exhibited higher TC adsorption capacity. Therefore, MSW-MMT clay-biochar composite could be applied in the remediation of TC antibiotic residues in contaminated aqueous media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-322
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 15


  • Antibiotics
  • Composite
  • Intercalation
  • Montmorillonite
  • Natural red earth
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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