Journal article Open Access
Magnetic carbons can significantly lower the costs of wastewater treatment due to easy separation of the adsorbent. However, current production techniques often involve the use of chlorinated or sulfonated Fe precursors with an inherent potential for secondary pollution. In this study, ochre, an iron-rich waste stream was investigated as a sustainable Fe source to produce magnetic activated biochar from two agricultural feedstocks, softwood and wheat straw. Fe-doping resulted in significant shifts in pyrolysis yield distribution with increased gas yields (+50 %) and gas energy content (+40 %) lowering the energy costs for production. Physical activation transformed ochre to magnetite/maghemite resulting in activated magnetic biochars and lead to a 4-fold increase in the adsorption capacities for two common micropollutants – caffeine and fluconazole. The results show that Fe doping not only benefits the adsorbent properties but also the production process, leading the way to sustainable carbon adsorbents.