Mechanisms of U(VI) removal by biochar derived from Ficus microcarpa aerial root: A comparison between raw and modified biochar

Nuo Li, Meiling Yin, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Shitong Yang, Juan Liu, Xue Li, Gang Song, Jin Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Uranium (U) is a toxic and radioactive element. Excessive amounts of aqueous U(VI) generated from U mining, processing and nuclear industry may result in severe and irreversible damage to the environment. Herein, Ficus microcarpa aerial root (FMAR), a biowaste material, was used to adsorb U(VI) from aqueous solutions for the first time. Potassium permanganate (KMnO4)-modified FMAR biochar was synthesised, characterised and compared with raw (unmodified) biochar with respect to U(VI) adsorption. The results showed that the adsorption capability of the modified FMAR biochar was evidently higher than that of the raw biochar. Multiple characterisation techniques confirmed that the discrepancy was mainly due to the increased content of O−H and formation of irregular sheet-like nanostructure with the ultrafine MnO2 nanoparticles on the biochar surfaces after KMnO4 modification. The abundance of O−H and nanoscale MnO2 notably enhanced the adsorption of U(VI) by means of coordination and Lewis acid-base interaction. The results indicate that KMnO4-modified FMAR biochar has a good potential to serve as an environment-friendly adsorbent for the removal of U(VI) from solution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134115
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2019


  • Biowaste management
  • Engineered biochar
  • Mineral-biochar composite
  • Sustainable remediation
  • Uranium
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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