Carbon dioxide capture in biochar produced from pine sawdust and paper mill sludge: Effect of porous structure and surface chemistry

Avanthi Deshani Igalavithana, Seung Wan Choi, Jin Shang, Aamir Hanif, Pavani Dulanja Dissanayake, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Jung Hwan Kwon, Ki Bong Lee, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is increasing and threatening the earth's climate. Selective CO2 capture at large point sources will help to reduce the CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. Biochar with microporous structure could be a potential material to capture CO2. The impact of feedstock type, pyrolysis temperature and steam activation of biochars were evaluated for CO2 adsorption capacity. Pine sawdust biochars were produced at 550 °C, and steam activated for 45 min at the same temperature after completing the pyrolysis (PS550 and PSS550). Paper mill sludge biochars were produced at 300 and 600 °C (PMS300 and PMS600). The CO2 adsorption capacity of biochars was tested at 25 °C using a volumetric sorption analyzer. Pine sawdust biochars showed significantly higher CO2 adsorption capacity than paper mill sludge biochars due to high surface area and microporosity. Pine sawdust biochars were then evaluated for dynamic adsorption under representative post-combustion flue gas concentration conditions (15% CO2, 85% N2) using a breakthrough rig. Both materials showed selective CO2 uptake over N2 which is the major component along with CO2 in flue gas. PSS550 had slightly higher CO2 adsorption capacity (0.73 mmol g^-1 vs 0.67 mmol g^-1) and CO2 over N2 selectivity (26 vs 18) than PS550 possibly due to increase of microporosity, surface area, and oxygen containing basic functional groups through steam activation. Pine sawdust biochar is an environmentally friendly and low-cost material to capture CO2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139845
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


  • Charcoal
  • CO sequestration
  • Engineered biochar
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Sustainable waste management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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