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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Water Management and Conservation Research » Research » Research Project #438874

Research Project: Slow Filtration of Pharmaceuticals From Wastewater Using Biochar Fixed-Bed Columns

Location: Water Management and Conservation Research

Project Number: 2020-13000-004-09-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

Objective:
Optimize a low input treatment system to remove emerging contaminants from reclaimed wastewater using biochar and zero valent iron.

Approach:
The proposed research aims at investigating the use of column experiments to determine the ability for biochar to be used as a filter media to remove Natural Organic Matter (NOM) and pharmaceuticals from treated wastewater. The methods utilized to achieve the aforementioned goals are divided into three phases. In the first phase, biochar and zero valent iron-biochar will be evaluated to determine their ability to remove NOM and pharmaceuticals from wastewater. Suitable pharmaceuticals will be selected and column adsorption experiments will be used to investigate biochar’s adsorption capacity as well as determining the maximum biochar bed capacity (qc). The phase will also involve functionalizing the biochar using ZVI to determine the effect of the presence of functional groups on NOM and pharmaceutical removal by ZVI-amended biochar filters. The second phase aims at elucidating the interactions between NOM and pharmaceuticals in water. It is expected that pharmaceuticals will interact with NOM or the presence of NOM will reduce active sties available for pharmaceutical adsorption, all of which will either favor or hinder adsorption. This phase will also be used to determine the effect of pH and residence time on biochar’s effectiveness in removing NOM and pharmaceuticals. After elucidating the effect of pH on the adsorption capacity, the main focus of the third phase will be to utilize the optimum pH condition for regeneration studies. This will involve washing and reusing the biochar and ZVI-biochar columns several times to determine the reusability potential of the biochar filters.