University of Oulu

Siipola, V.; Pflugmacher, S.; Romar, H.; Wendling, L.; Koukkari, P. Low-Cost Biochar Adsorbents for Water Purification Including Microplastics Removal. Appl. Sci. 2020, 10, 788.

Low-cost biochar adsorbents for water purification including microplastics removal

Saved in:
Author: Siipola, Virpi1; Pflugmacher, Stephan2; Romar, Henrik3;
Organizations: 1VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., P.O.Box 1000, 02044 Espoo, Finland
2Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Niemenkatu 73, 15140 Lahti, Finland
3Research Unit of Sustainable Chemistry, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-01-24


The applicability of steam activated pine and spruce bark biochar for storm water and wastewater purification has been investigated. Biochar samples produced from the bark of scots pine (Pinus sylvestrus) and spruce (Picea spp.) by conventional slow pyrolysis at 475 °C were steam activated at 800 °C. Steam activation was selected as a relatively inexpensive method for creating porous biochar adsorbents from the bark-containing sidestreams of the wood refining industry. A suite of standard analytical procedures were carried out to quantify the performance of the activated biochar in removing both cations and residual organics from aqueous media. Phenol and microplastics retention and cation exchange capacity were employed as key test parameters. Despite relatively low surface areas (200–600 m2/g), the steam-activated biochars were highly suitable adsorbents for the chemical species tested as well as for microplastics removal. The results indicate that ultra-high porosities are not necessary for satisfactory water purification, supporting the economic feasibility of bio-based adsorbent production.

see all

Series: Applied sciences
ISSN: 2076-3417
ISSN-E: 2076-3417
ISSN-L: 2076-3417
Volume: 10
Issue: 3
Pages: 788 - 806
DOI: 10.3390/app10030788
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 116 Chemical sciences
Funding: This work has been funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, agreement number: 754/
Copyright information: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (