Enhanced sulfamethazine removal by steam-activated invasive plant-derived biochar

Anushka Upamali Rajapaksha, Meththika Vithanage, Mahtab Ahmad, Dong Cheol Seo, Ju Sik Cho, Sung Eun Lee, Sang Soo Lee, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

301 Citations (Scopus)


Recent investigations have shown frequent detection of pharmaceuticals in soils and waters posing potential risks to human and ecological health. Here, we report the enhanced removal of sulfamethazine (SMT) from water by physically activated biochar. Specifically, we investigated the effects of steam-activated biochars synthesized from an invasive plant (Sicyos angulatus L.) on the sorption of SMT in water. The properties and sorption capacities of steam-activated biochars were compared with those of conventional non-activated slow pyrolyzed biochars. Sorption exhibited pronounced pH dependence, which was consistent with SMT speciation and biochar charge properties. A linear relationship was observed between sorption parameters and biochar properties such as molar elemental ratios, surface area, and pore volumes. The isotherms data were well described by the Freundlich and Temkin models suggesting favorable chemisorption processes and electrostatic interactions between SMT and biochar. The steam-activated biochar produced at 700°C showed the highest sorption capacity (37.7mgg-1) at pH 3, with a 55% increase in sorption capacity compared to that of non-activated biochar produced at the same temperature. Therefore, steam activation could potentially enhance the sorption capacities of biochars compared to conventional pyrolysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of hazardous materials
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jun 5
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program, through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (Project number: 2012R1A1B3001409) and the Korea Ministry of Environment , as a Geo-Advanced Innovative Action Project (G112-00056-0004-0). Instrumental analyses were supported by the Korea Basic Science Institute, the Environmental Research Institute, and the Central Laboratory of Kangwon National University, Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015.


  • Activated carbon
  • Black carbon
  • Charcoal
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Slow pyrolysis
  • Veterinary antibiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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