• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 12:15 PM


SINGH, Andrew1, SINGH, Kevin2, RAMESH, Rachita2, PASRAM, Kirendra2 and DHAR, Ratan3, (1)Geology Discipline, Earth and Physical Sciences, York College of City University of New York, 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11451, (2)Doshi Science Research Program, John Bowne High School, 63-25 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11367, (3)Earth and Physical Sciences, York College of the City University of New York, 94-20, Guy R. Brewer Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11451,

Biochar is an example of a biotechnological method that can be used to remove heavy metals. Biochar is a highly porous charcoal made from raw organic materials such as garden, forest, and agricultural waste (Ansari, 2009). It is made using a process called pyrolysis. The final product contains crevices and holes, which helps with the process of adsorption (Pleasant, 2000). Based on these findings an experiment was conducted to test the role of biochar and its capabilities in absorbing nutrients and heavy metals from contaminated water. Biochar samples from three different sources were first tested in the X-Ray Fluorescence to determine which was the least polluted, i.e. which had the least heavy metal content.

Pine, Oak, and Mixed origin from different companies who mass produce these products were examined. Out of these three substances, oak contained the least amount of contaminants such as lead, cadmium, arsenic. Rigorous examination of the “contaminated biochar”, which is easily available, must be made because it has the ability to release its hazardous components into soil where it is being used to help assist plant growth. Three types of soil and beach sand were also bought and tested for their elemental composition. The soil and beach sand were used as a housing material for the biochar. After this, a leaching experiment began where nano-pure water was used to rinse the column at a 0.5 ml/min rate using a peristaltic pump top-down. After 100ppm nitrate/phosphate solutions were run through the sand and different soils which were packed in four chromatography columns. The eluate was collected and tested via Ion Chromatography.

The results show that biochar does in fact hold the nutrients in its pores. The final graphs produced by the nutrient analyzer shows a change in ppm where the low concentration of nutrients were contained in the eluate. In future studies, various types of heavy metals such as copper, lead, cadmium and arsenic will be tested in the same manner as the nutrients via Cathodic Stripping Voltammetry.

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