Arsenic removal by perilla leaf biochar in aqueous solutions and groundwater: an integrated spectroscopic and microscopic examination

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Niazi, NK, Bibi, I, Shahid, M, Ok YS, Burton, ED, Wang, H, Shaheen, SM, Rinklege, J & Lüttge, A 2018, 'Arsenic removal by perilla leaf biochar in aqueous solutions and groundwater: an integrated spectroscopic and microscopic examination', Environmental Pollution, vol. 232, pp. 31-41.

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In this study, we examined the removal of arsenite (As(III)) and arsenate (As(V)) by perilla leaf-derived biochars produced at 300 and 700 °C (referred as BC300 and BC700) in aqueous environments. Results revealed that the Langmuir isotherm model provided the best fit for As(III) and As(V) sorption, with the sorption affinity following the order: BC700-As(III) > BC700-As(V) > BC300-As(III) > BC300-As(V) (QL = 3.85–11.01 mg g−1). In general, As removal decreased (76–60%) with increasing pH from 7 to 10 except for the BC700-As(III) system, where notably higher As removal (88–90%) occurred at pH from 7 to 9. Surface functional moieties contributed to As sequestration by the biochars examined here. However, significantly higher surface area and aromaticity of BC700 favored a greater As removal compared to BC300, suggesting that surface complexation/precipitation dominated As removal by BC700. Arsenic K-edge X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy demonstrated that up to 64% of the added As(V) was reduced to As(III) in BC700- and BC300-As(V) sorption experiments, and in As(III) sorption experiments, partial oxidation of As(III) to As(V) occurred (37–39%). However, XANES spectroscopy was limited to precisely quantify As binding with sulfur species as As2S3-like phase. Both biochars efficiently removed As from natural As-contaminated groundwater (As: 23–190 μg L−1; n = 12) despite in the presence of co-occurring anions (e.g., CO32−, PO43−, SO42−) with the highest levels of As removal observed for BC700 (97–100%). Overall, this study highlights that perilla leaf biochars, notably BC700, possessed the greatest ability to remove As from solution and groundwater (drinking water). Significantly, the integrated spectroscopic techniques advanced our understanding to examine complex redox transformation of As(III)/As(V) with biochar, which are crucial to determine fate of As on biochar in aquatic environments.