New mechanistic insight into rapid adsorption of pharmaceuticals from water utilizing activated biochar

Ali Maged, Pavani Dulanja Dissanayake, Xiao Yang, Charitha Pathirannahalage, Amit Bhatnagar, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of emerging pollutants especially hazardous chemicals and pharmaceuticals in aquatic environments is a matter of grave concern to human health and the environment. In this study, coffee bean waste (CBW) was utilized to synthesize pristine (CBW550) and activated (CBW550HPO) biochars for the elimination of diclofenac (DF) and levofloxacin (LEV) from water. A facile two-step approach was used to synthesize CBW550HPO using chemical pretreatment and pyrolysis under N2 purging. BET results of CBW550HPO revealed that chemical pretreatment increased surface area by approximately 160 times compared to CBW550. The calculated ID/IG ratio from Raman spectra confirmed that CBW550HPO had a high functionalized surface. Different operational parameters such as contact time, pH, adsorbent dose, ionic strength, and adsorbate concentration were studied and optimized. Maximum Langmuir adsorption capacity of CBW550HPO was found to be 61.17 and 110.70 mg/g for DF and LVX, respectively. Experimental results demonstrated that presence of NaCl in solution enhanced DF removal efficiency due to the salting-out effect. Electrostatic attraction, π−π bonding, and hydrophobic interaction were prominently responsible mechanisms for the adsorption of DF and LVX. Furthermore, continuous-flow mode studies confirmed that CBW550HPO can be successfully utilized in large-scale treatment applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111693
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science and Technology Development (Effects of plastic mulch wastes on crop productivity and agroenvironment, Project No. PJ01475801 ), Rural Development Administration , Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government ( MSIT ) (No. 2021R1A2C2011734 ). Authors also thank Emma van Wijlen, Rijn Ijssel College, The Netherlands, for her kind assistance in some lab experiments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • Adsorption
  • Biochar
  • Diclofenac
  • Levofloxacin
  • Waste valorization
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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