Biochar Sorbents for the Control of Organic Contaminants in Nonpoint Source Pollution: Relating Biochar Structure and Sorption Behavior

EPA Grant Number: F13E31008
Title: Biochar Sorbents for the Control of Organic Contaminants in Nonpoint Source Pollution: Relating Biochar Structure and Sorption Behavior
Investigators: Shimabuku, Kyle Koyu
Institution: University of Washington
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 24, 2014 through September 24, 2016
Project Amount: $84,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Environmental Engineering

Objective:

Biochar sorbents have the potential to remove organic contaminants from nonpoint source pollution because they are inexpensive and can be applied over large areas. However, factors that determine OC removal efficiency from runoff with biochar are largely unknown. This research seeks to optimize biochar for use in nonpoint source pollution treatment systems (e.g., retention basins, bioswales) by relating production conditions to biochar structure and OC removal efficiency.

Approach:

This study will use a range of biochar precursor materials, as well as production conditions, to generate a library of biochars that are diverse in physicochemical properties. Biochar adsorption, as well as desorption resistance, will be studied by spiking OCs in artificially buffered water, simulated runoff, and urban and agricultural runoff. The removal interactions between adsorption and biodegradation will be assessed using indigenous microbial populations in natural runoff. Experiments will be conducted in batch systems, laboratory columns and as a pilot study in biofilters.

Expected Results:

It is hypothesized that the physicochemical properties can be predicted by the pyrolysis regime used, as well as by the feedstock material. Moreover, the properties of the OC are expected to influence sorption mechanisms. It is suspected that biochar surface functional groups will determine their ability to remove more polar versus nonpolar OCs. The physical properties of biochar are expected to influence OC adsorption capacity and the competitive impact from background adsorbates (e.g., metals, dissolved organic matter), as well as the ability of biochar to be regenerated by OC-degrading microorganisms. These results will ultimately identify optimal production conditions and feedstock characteristics to produce effective biochar media to remove organic contaminants in urban and agricultural runoff.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

This study will provide the scientific support necessary to validate the use of biochar in nonpoint source pollution treatment technologies to prevent harmful OCs from reaching aquatic ecosystems, recreational waters and drinking water sources. This also will increase water sustainability by facilitating runoff reuse that would circumvent the conveyance of water from distant regions. Safe & Sustainable Water Resources: Water Quality—Hydrogeology and Surface Water Biochar Sorbents for the Control of Organic Contaminants in Nonpoint Source Pollution: Relating Biochar Structure and Sorption Behavior Kyle Koyu Shimabuku University of Washington (WA) Email: kylekshimabuku@gmail.com EPA Grant Number: F13E31008 Project Officer: Brandon Jones Project Period: 9/24/2014–9/24/2016 Project Amount: $84,000 Environmental Discipline: Environmental Engineering Bio Kyle Shimabuku received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from San Diego State University in 2008. In 2013 he received his M.S. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Environmental Engineering. He started his Ph.D. in 2013 at the University of Washington in Environmental Engineering. His research interests surround water quality in natural and engineered systems. His current research focuses on the control of contaminants from nonpoint source pollution. Synopsis Nonpoint source pollution, such as urban and agricultural runoff, is the leading source of water quality impairment in the United States. Organic contaminants (OCs) are one of the main classes of pollutants found in runoff that pose a serious risk to human and environmental health. This research focuses on optimizing the efficiency of the sorbent biochar to enhance the ability of runoff treatment systems to remove organic contaminants from nonpoint source pollution. Keywords: contaminants, nonpoint source pollution, retention basins WA

Supplemental Keywords:

contaminants, nonpoint source pollution, retention basins

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015
  • Final