Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol.362, 460-468, 2019
Reclaiming phosphorus from secondary treated municipal wastewater with engineered biochar
Phosphorus (P), a vital growth-limiting nutrient, is often lost in wastewater discharge, which may not only deteriorate water quality but also accelerate P depletion. In this study, laboratory experiments were conducted to investigate the reclamation and reuse of P from secondary treated wastewater (STWW) by engineered biochar loaded with aluminum oxyhydroxides (AlOOH). Biochar loaded with colloidal and nanosized AlOOH crystalline flakes was successfully produced through direct pyrolysis of hickory wood chips pretreated with aluminum salt. STWW samples were collected from a local wastewater treatment plant to evaluate the P sorption ability of the engineered biochar. The real wastewater was used in batch sorption experiments and the results showed that the engineered biochar effectively removed P from the STWW with relatively fast kinetics (< 8 h) and good capacity (8,346 mg-P/kg), mainly through the electrostatic attraction mechanism. When the engineered biochar was packed in fixed-bed columns, it also effective removed P from the real STWW. The P removal efficiencies of the fixed-bed columns were affected by biochar dosage and flow rate. Various fixed-bed filtration models were applied to simulate the column experimental data and the model results matched the experimental breakthrough curves of P well. After the use, the engineered biochar was laden with P and thus significantly stimulated seed (Vigna radiata R. Wilczek) germination and early seedling growth. Findings from this study demonstrate that engineered biochar has promising applications in wastewater treatment because it can not only reduce P level in discharge to benefit the environment but also reclaim it as an agricultural fertilizer to improve P biogeochemical cycling and sustainability.