Corn straw-derived biochar impregnated with Α-FeOOH nanorods for highly effective copper removal

Fan Yang, Shuaishuai Zhang, Huipeng Li, Shuaishuai Li, Kui Cheng, Jiang Shan Li, Daniel C.W. Tsang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)


A novel biochar composite impregnated with α-FeOOH nanorods in hierarchical porous structures (α-FeOOH@PC) was synthesized by molten salt assisted carbonization of corn straws and hydrothermal treatment for crystallization of adsorbed ferric ions within carboxyl functionalized porous carbon. The structures and surface properties of biochar composites were characterized by scanning electron microscopy images (SEM), Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Raman spectra, and Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) analysis. The active α-FeOOH nanocrystals were encapsulated in the gradient porous biochar framework (macropores-mesopores-micropores) via C-O-Fe bonding. The α-FeOOH@PC composites presented excellent performance of both goethite containing a large amount of reactive surface hydroxyl sites and porous carbon consisting of large surface area and huge porous volume. The α-FeOOH@PC composites outperformed other sorbents for copper removal (adsorption capacity of 144.7 mg g−1). The synergistic effects of α-FeOOH and porous carbon in the biochar composite profoundly improved the removal efficiency (71.9%) compared to those of individual porous carbon foam (42.3%) and α-FeOOH nanorods (6.7%). A high adsorption capacity of 124.4 mg g−1was maintained after three adsorption-desorption cycles. This study suggests that biochar composite is a potentially promising candidate for environmental remediation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-201
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2018


  • Carbon composites
  • Engineered biochar
  • Environmental remediation
  • Iron nanoparticles
  • Waste recycling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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