(633a) Low Temperature Conversion of Biomass into Activated Biochar for Water Treatment in Resource-Constrained Settings

Authors: 
Nahata, M., University of Michigan
Schwank, J. W., University of Michigan
Fisher, G. B., University of Michigan
Seo, C. Y., University of Michigan
Access to clean water is a major challenge in many parts of the world, especially in remote rural areas such as rain forest communities in Africa. New approaches are needed to ensure adequate water supply and quality, as they are inextricably intertwined with food security and public health. In this presentation, we will focus on the synthesis, characterization, and application of activated biochar for water purification. Unlike conventional gasification reactor systems designed to operate at large scales, not much has been investigated in the past about small-scale batch pyrolysis. Nevertheless, batch systems offer advantages such as increased char yield and net exothermicity. Various types of cellulosic biomass (eg: sawdust, coconut shells) can be used as carbon precursors via pyrolysis. We will describe a process where catalytic activating agents are used in batch setups to lower the pyrolysis temperature and simultaneously activate the carbon produced to BET surface areas in excess of 500 m2/g . A systematic study of process parameters and characterization of the resulting activated carbons is used to optimize the chemistry and minimize contaminants from the produced filter-carbon.