Chemical Engineering Journal, Vol.361, 1576-1585, 2019
The potential of biochar as sorptive media for removal of hazardous benzene in air
Airborne benzene is hazardous even at sub-ppm levels. Therefore, an effective strategy is required for its removal, such as the use of a sorbent with large adsorption capacity or high breakthrough volume. To meet the goal, the performance for the removal of benzene was assessed by loading benzene at 5 Pa inlet partial pressure against seven types of biowaste-derived biochar: (1) paper mill sludge, (2) conventional biochar with magnetic properties, (3) biochar composites with carbon nanotubes (CNTs), (4) gasification biochar from mixed feedstock, (5) gasification biochar from a single feedstock, (6) modified gasification biochar, and (7) activated carbon (AC) as a reference. The 298 K maximum adsorption capacities (mg g(-1)), when measured at a benzene inlet pressure of 5 Pa (or 50 ppm in ultrapure nitrogen) and flow rate of 50 mL atm min(-1), varied widely for different biochars, from 0.35 (MS: Swine manure + plastic mulch film waste) to 144 mg g(-1) (XC-1: biochar from mixed feedstock); their 10% breakthrough volumes (BTV) were in the range of 0.22-492 L g(-1), respectively. The experimental data (capacity vs. benzene outlet partial pressure) could be fitted to either two or three linearized Langmuir isotherms with distinctive sorption mechanisms ((1) a retrograde region (Type III isotherm: 0 to similar to 0.2 Pa), (2) an intermediate pressure region (0.2 and 2.0 Pa), and (3) a higher pressure region (> 2 Pa)) which was also confirmed similarly by Freundlich, Dubinin-Radushkevich, and Elovich fitting. About 65% of the maximum capacity was achieved in the retrograde region. The strongest biochar sorbent, XC-1, showed similar performance as activated carbon to prove its feasibility toward air quality management (AQM) applications.