Removal of hexavalent chromium in aqueous solutions using biochar: Chemical and spectroscopic investigations

Anushka Upamali Rajapaksha, Md Samrat Alam, Ning Chen, Daniel S. Alessi, Avanthi Deshani Igalavithana, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Yong Sik Ok

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183 Citations (Scopus)


Biochar is an emerging low-cost sorbent used for removing trace metals from water. In this study, we evaluated the removal potential of aqueous hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) by biochars produced from soybean (Glycine max L.) and burcucumber (Sicyos angulatus L.) residues. The highest Cr(VI) removal from solution occurred at low pH values (pH 2–5), and adsorption decreased approximately tenfold when the pH increased from 2 to 10. Synchrotron-based X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) investigations showed that Cr(VI) species were reduced to trivalent chromium (Cr(III)) at the biochar surface following Cr(VI) adsorption. Linear combination fitting (LCF) of X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) data indicated that approximately 90% of the total Cr(VI) (962 μM) was reduced to Cr(III). Extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) fitting results yielded interatomic chromium (Cr–Cr) distances consistent with the formation of Cr(III) precipitates as Cr(OH)3. Trivalent chromium is far less soluble than Cr(VI) and typically precipitates as amorphous Cr(III) solids. Thus, biochars produced by soybean and burcucumber residues are a promising technique for both adsorbing and reductively immobilizing Cr(VI) from aqueous solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1567-1573
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIP) (NRF-2015R1A2A2A11001432, Contribution: 100%). DSA was partially funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant (RGPIN-04134). XAS analysis described in this paper was performed at the Canadian Light Source, which is supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the University of Saskatchewan, the Government of Saskatchewan, Western Economic Diversification Canada, the National Research Council Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Advanced spectroscopic technique
  • Biosorption
  • Black carbon
  • Charcoal
  • Slow pyrolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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