Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Mlsna, Todd E.

Committee Member

Wipf, David O.

Committee Member

Zhang, Dongmao

Committee Member

Emerson, Joseph P.

Committee Member

Saebo, Svein

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Chemistry


The main aim of this research is to provide a low cost and sustainable biochar for the removal of organic pollutants from aqueous solution. Wastewater pollution by organic contaminants of emerging concern has become a subject of intense discussion. Removing these contaminants from aqueous solution is paramount to improve water quality for both humans and animal consumption. Traditional adsorption techniques using activated carbon are universal and fast, however, they are very costly. This dissertation therefore seeks to find an alternative low cost adsorbent which can be used to adsorb contaminants from aqueous solution. In chapter one, an overview of some of the selected organic contaminants of emerging concern is given. Pharmaceutical and pesticide entry into the environment, their fate and ecotoxicity are highlighted. Available techniques for the removal of contaminants from aqueous solution are also given. Chapter two is a study on the adsorption of some selected pharmaceuticals using a fast pyrolysis low cost biochar produced from pinewood feedstocks. The pinewood biochar used as the adsorbent in this study was made by fast pyrolysis in an augered reactor at a temperature of 425 oC and a residence time of 20-30 s during bio-oil production. In chapter three, switchgrass biochar has been tested for its potential for remediating water that is contaminated with two phenoxy herbicides, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic (2,4-D) acid and 2-methyl-4-chloro-phenoxyacetic acid (MCPA). The adsorption capacity was remarkable when compared to commercial activated carbon per unit of measured surface area. Furthermore, in chapter four, magnetic and non-magnetic low cost biochars have been tested for the removal of the herbicide metribuzin from aqueous solution under different experimental conditions. The magnetic biochar synthesized from raw switchgrass biochar does not show a detrimental effect on the adsorption capacity. Additional value of this magnetic biochar is the ease of separation from contaminated solution following adsorption.