Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Mlsna, Todd E.

Committee Member

Wipf, David O.

Committee Member

Scott, Colleen N.

Committee Member

Baird, Richard E.

Committee Member

Emerson, Joseph P.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Chemistry


Water pollution represents one of the major concerns of the modern world, after scientific and industrial development that generates hazardous organic and inorganic contaminants. Biochar (BC) has gained tremendous attention in the past decade as a cheap and efficient adsorbent for organic and inorganic contaminants from aqueous solutions. BC is considered to be a low-cost alternative to activated carbon, however, BC typically suffer performance reductions due to their low surface areas and poor mechanical properties. The main objective of this work is to develop novel biochar materials by modifying the biochar surface for the removal of organic and inorganic contaminants from water. In recent years, biochar modifications involving various methods such as, acid/base treatment, impregnation of mineral sorbents, functional groups incorporation, steam activation and magnetic modification have been widely studied. Chapter I summarizes these biochar modification methods. In Chapter II, Chitosan-Modified fast pyrolysis BioChar (CMBC) was used to remove Pb2+ from water. CMBC was made by mixing pine wood biochar with a 2% aqueous acetic acid chitosan (85% deacylated chitin) solution followed by treatment with NaOH. CMBC removed more Pb2+ than non-modified biochar suggesting that modification with chitosan generates amine groups on the biochar surface which enhance Pb2+ adsorption. Chapter III describes the fast nitrate and fluoride adsorption and magnetic separation from water on iron oxide particles dispersed on Douglas Fir biochar. Nitrate and fluoride adsorption occurred by electrostatic attraction over the wide 2 to 10 pH range. In the chapter IV, aniline and nitrobenzene removal from water was studied using magnetized and nonmagnetized Douglas Fir biochar. The adsorption of aniline and nitrobenzene occurred mainly through pi-pi electron interactions over the wide 2 to 12 pH range and H-bonding. The surface morphology, chemistry, and composition of the modified biochars were examined by SEM, SEM-EDX, TEM, PZC, XPS, XRD, FTIR, TGA, DSC, elemental analysis, and surface area measurements.



Chitosan||Magnetic biochar||Adsorption||Water remediation||Nitrobenzene||Aniline||Nitrate||Fluoride||Heavy metals