Fast synthesis of high surface area bio-based porous carbons for organic pollutant removal
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A fast, facile and one-pot chemical activation method was used to develop porous carbons with high surface area and excellent phenolic micropollutant adsorption performance from renewable precursors. This method was applied to three precursors: naturally abundant, but often underestimated wildfire-damaged boreal peats, corn starch, and cellulose. Porous carbon formation was accomplished through precursor impregnation with ZnCl2 powder and their simultaneous pyrolysis under inert N2 flow at 400 or 600 °C for 1 h. The maximum adsorption capacities of these bio-sorbents towards a model contaminant, p-nitrophenol, in simulated wastewater were equal to or superior than using a commercial activated carbon (CAC), Norit GSX (> 530 mg/g) over wide initial concentration ranges (20-2000 mg/L). p-nitrophenol adsorption best fitted Freundlich and Redlich-Peterson isotherms, suggesting multilayer chemisorption. Low concentration p-nitrophenol (20 mg/L) adsorption into the bio-sorbents was rapid in the first 4 h, and could reach high removals (> 98%). The method presented here yielded bio-sorbents with similarly high adsorption performance regardless of the precursor type, while avoiding energy-intensive processing steps during sorbent production. This study gives a useful alternative for manufacturing new sorbents from other upcycled carbonaceous and/or bio-based materials to remove micropollutants and heavy metals.•Fast, single-step chemical activation for manufacturing bio-based porous carbons.•Efficient adsorption towards aqueous phenolic micropollutant from batch studies.•A competitive substitute of charcoal activated carbons for water purification.
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