Biochar-based engineered composites for sorptive decontamination of water: A review

K. S.D. Premarathna, Anushka Upamali Rajapaksha, Binoy Sarkar, Eilhann E. Kwon, Amit Bhatnagar, Yong Sik Ok, Meththika Vithanage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Biochar (BC) exhibits a great potential as an adsorbent in decontamination of water. To improve the adsorption capabilities and impart the particular functionalities of BC, various methods (chemical modification, physical modification, impregnation with different materials, and magnetic modification) have been developed. As compared to surface modifications, BC-based composites provide various technical and environmental benefits because they require fewer chemicals, lesser energy, and confer enhanced contaminant removal capacity. Therefore, this review focuses on BC composites prepared by the combination of BC with different additives including metals, metal oxides, clay minerals, and carbonaceous materials, which greatly alter the physicochemical properties of BC and broaden its adsorption potential for a wide range of aquatic contaminants. Techniques for the preparation of BC composites, their adsorption potentials for a variety of inorganic and organic environmental contaminants, factors affecting BC properties and the adsorption process, and the mechanisms involved in adsorption are also discussed. Modification typically alters the surface properties and functionalities of BC composites including surface area, pore volume, pore size, surface charge, and surface functional groups. Hence, modification enhances the adsorption capacity of BC for most organic and inorganic compounds and ions. Nevertheless, some modifications negatively affect the adsorption of certain contaminants because of various factors including obstruction of pores due to over coating and development of same charge as contaminant on the surface of BC. However, the use of BC composites in environmental remediation is still in its infancy, and further research and development is needed to reach scalability and commercialization of the new technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-550
Number of pages15
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Sep 15


  • Adsorption
  • Antibiotics
  • Biochar
  • Clay minerals
  • Nutrients
  • Trace metals
  • Water pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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