Investigating Biochar as a Water Treatment Filtration Media for Adsorption and Biological Reduction of Dissolved Metals and Flouride

Project ID: 1785
Principal Investigator: Anthony Kennedy
Research Topic: Desalination and Water Treatment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017, 2018 and 2019
Keywords: None

Research Question

Biochar, or carbonized biomass, is gaining attention as an alternative to GAC as an adsorbent and biofilter media in water treatment. Compared to GAC, biochar (1) is cheaper to source materials and produce (often locally), (2) is more sustainable as it sequesters carbon from being released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, and (3) can be made from a variety of source materials that can be tailored to specific contaminants.
For this project, the research question is: how effective is commercially available biochar as a water treatment filtration media for the removal of selenium, metals, and fluoride through either physical adsorption or as biofilter media?
This project will test the efficacy of commercially available biochars for the removal of these contaminants from three different water sources: (1) acid mine drainage (AMD), (2) agricultural drainage, and (3) groundwater.

Need and Benefit

Reclamation wide, there is an urgent need for (1) expanding water supplies, (2) offsetting pressure on existing projects, and (3) protecting water quality. Specifically, this project will focus on the following needs:
CS1: need for an alternative cost-effective filter media that can enhance metals removal for further protection of receiving waters.
CS2: need for less expensive biofilter media for the biological removal of selenium from agricultural drainage water.
CS3: need for diversifying water sources by developing fluoride-impacted groundwater. The City of Lawton has also been identified as a potential interconnection source to Tom Steed Reservoir, a Reclamation project (Creative Capitol Strategies, LLC, 2014).
Understanding the utility of biochar for water treatment as it applies to Reclamation-specific projects would not only benefit the three case studies but would serve as an opportunity to transfer knowledge to municipal and private partners.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Investigating Biochar as a Water Treatment Filtration Media for Adsorption and Biological Reduction of Dissolved Metals and Flouride (final, PDF, 1.5MB)
By Anthony Kennedy
Research Product completed on August 15, 2020

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20