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Emmanuel Johnson

Using biochar for removing contaminants from wastewater.


Project supervisors

Project description

There are a significant number of emerging contaminants in the aquatic environment. These are synthetic or naturally occurring chemicals. They consist of pharmaceuticals and pesticides from agriculture, industrial and municipal areas. They emanate from point and non-point sources. They are not commonly monitored.

These chemicals have the potential to enter the environment. They may cause adverse ecological and human health effects. Discharge of these contaminants leads to their consistent infiltration into water supplies. They enter groundwater, surface water, municipal wastewater and drinking water. The adsorption process is a candidate to remove these contaminants during wastewater treatment. We are investigating use of this process.

Biochar is a low-cost adsorbent. It has great potential to efficiently tackle wastewater contaminants. This is because waste biomass feedstock is widely available. It has low production cost and favourable physical and chemical characteristics.

We are carrying out experiments with biochar prepared from four agricultural waste biomasses. Thes are rice straw, corn cob, coconut husk and coconut shell. These differ in elemental composition, surface properties and sorption potentials. We are investigating the ability of each adsorbent to reduce selected contaminants in aqueous solutions. Sorption kinetics and mechanisms are controlled by intra-particle diffusion and solid–water distribution coefficients (Kd). We compared the pollutant adsorption abilities for the tested adsorbents.

Finally, we will compare the process parameters of each adsorption system. This will provide an understanding of the best suitable biofiltration system for contaminant removal.


  • BTech (Nigeria)
  • MSc (Aberdeen)