Study of Ammonium and Nitrate Adsorption Kinetics and Isotherm by Common reed (Phragmites australis) Biochar from Aqueous Solution

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Department of Soil Science, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

4 Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran


Nitrate and ammonium are the major contaminants of aquatic ecosystem causing eutrophication in water resources. Application of natural, inexpensive and ecofriendly adsorbents can be a useful approach for ammonium and nitrate removal from aqueous solutions. The aim of this study was to investigate the ability of common reed biochar to absorb nitrate and ammonium from aqueous solution. For this purpose, the common reed biochar was prepared at 500°C and its characteristics were measured. The effect of initial concentration, contact time, pH and biochar dosage on nitrate and ammonium adsorption was studied using batch experiment. Adsorption of nitrate and ammonium by biochar reached to equilibrium after 480 and 240 minutes, respectively. The optimal pH for removal of nitrate and ammonium was 3 and 9, respectively. The efficiency of nitrate and ammonium removal increased with increasing contact time and dose of biochar. The pseudo second order kinetic model provides a good description for the adsorption process of ammonium (r2=0.994)  and nitrate
(r2 =0.970). Langmuir and Freundlich isotherms showed the best fit for ammonium and nitrate experimental data, respectively. Generally, the common reed biochar showed a high capacity for adsorption of nitrate (73.52 mg g-1) and ammonium (42.55 mg g-1). Therefore, the exhausted adsorbents containing ammonium and nitrate has a good potential as a soil conditioner that can supply part of plant''s need to nitrogen.


Ahmad, M., Rajapaksha, A. U., Lim, J. E., Zhang, M., Bolan, N., Mohan, D., Vithanage, M., Lee, S. S. and Ok, Y. S. (2014). Biochar as a sorbent for contaminant management in soil and water: A review. Chemosphere, 99, 19-33.
Amin, M. T., Alazba, A. A. and Shafiq, M. (2018). Removal of copper and lead using banana biochar in batch adsorption systems: isotherms and kinetic studies. Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering, 43(11), 5711-5722.
APHA, AWWA, WEF. (1992). Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater. American Public Health Association.
Akhavan, S., Zare Abyaneh, H. and Bayat Varkeshi, M. A. 2014. Systematic review on nitrate concentration in water resources of Iran. Iranian Journal of Health and Environment, 7(2), 205-228. (In Farsi)
Asada, T., Ohkubo, T., Kawata, K. and Oikawa, K. (2006). Ammonia adsorption on bamboo charcoal with acid treatment. Journal of Health Science, 52(5), 585-589.
Azimzadeh, Y., Najafi, N., Reyhanitabar, A. and Oustan, S. (2017). Efficiency of Mg-Al layered double hydroxide for phosphorous removal from aqueous solution. Iranian Journal of Health and Environment. 10(1), 125-138. (In Farsi)
Britto, D. T. and Kronzucker, H. J. (2002). NH4+ toxicity in higher plants: A critical review. Journal of Plant Physiology, 159(6), 567-584.
Cantrell, K. B., Hunt, P. G., Uchimiya, M., Novak, J. M. and Ro, K. S. (2012). Impact of pyrolysis temperature and manure source on physicochemical characteristics of biochar. Bioresource Technology, 107, 419-428.
Chen, B., Zhou, D., and Zhu, L. (2008). Transitional adsorption and partition of nonpolar and polar aromatic contaminants by biochars of pine needles with different pyrolytic temperatures. Environmental Science and Technology, 42(14), 5137-5143.
Chintala, R., Mollinedo, J., Schumacher, T. E., Papiernik, S. K., Malo, D. D., Clay, D. E., Kumar, S. and Gulbrandson, D.W. (2013). Nitrate sorption and desorption in biochars from fast pyrolysis. Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 179, 250-257.
Cui, X., Dai, X., Khan, K. Y., Li, T., Yang, X. and He, Z. (2016). Removal of phosphate from aqueous solution using magnesium-alginate/chitosan modified biochar microspheres derived from Thalia dealbata. Bioresource Technology, 218, 1123-1132.
Domingues, R. R., Trugilho, P. F., Silva, C. A., de Melo, I. C. N., Melo, L. C., Magriotis, Z. M. and Sánchez-Monedero, M. A. (2017). Properties of biochar derived from wood and high-nutrient biomasses with the aim of agronomic and environmental benefits. PloS one, 12(5), 0176884.
El-Wakil, A. M. and Awad, F. S. (2014). Removal of lead from aqueous solution on activated carbon and modified activated carbon prepared from dried water hyacinth plant. Journal of Analytical and Bioanalytical Techniques, 5(2), 1-14.
Fidel, R. B., Laird, D. A. and Spokas, K. A. (2018). Sorption of ammonium and nitrate to biochars is electrostatic and pH-dependent. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 17627.
Giles, C. H., MacEwan, T. H., Nakhwa, S. N. and Smith, D. (1960). Studies in adsorption. Part XI. A system of classification of solution adsorption isotherms, and its use in diagnosis of adsorption mechanisms and in measurement of specific surface areas of solids. Journal of the Chemical Society (Resumed), 3973-3993.
Goh, K. H., Lim T. T., Banas A. and Dong Z. (2010). Sorption characteristics and mechanisms of oxyanions and oxyhalides having different molecular properties on Mg/Al layered double hydroxide nanoparticles. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 179(1), 818-27.
Gong, Y. P., Ni, Z. Y., Xiong, Z. Z., Cheng, L. H. and Xu, X. H. (2017). Phosphate and ammonium adsorption of the modified biochar based on Phragmites australis after phytoremediation. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24(9), 8326-8335.
Hafshejani, L. D., Hooshmand, A., Naseri, A. A., Mohammadi, A. S., Abbasi, F. and Bhatnagar, A. (2016). Removal of nitrate from aqueous solution by modified sugarcane bagasse biochar. Ecological Engineering, 95, 101-111.
Hou, J., Huang, L., Yang, Z., Zhao, Y., Deng, C., Chen, Y. and Li, X. (2016). Adsorption of ammonium on biochar prepared from giant reed. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 23(19), 19107-19115.
Huang, J., Kankanamge, N. R., Chow, C., Welsh, D. T., Li, T., and Teasdale, P. R. (2018). Removing ammonium from water and wastewater using cost-effective adsorbents: A review. Journal of Environmental Sciences, 63, 174-197.
Jindo, K., Mizumoto, H., Sawada, Y., Sanchez-Monedero, M. A. and Sonoki, T. (2014). Physical and chemical characterization of biochars derived from different agricultural residues. Biogeosciences, 11(23), 6613-6621.
Karimi, A., Moezzi, A., Chorom, M., Enayatizamir, N. (2019a). Investigation of physicochemical characteristics of biochars derived from corn residue and sugarcane bagasse in different pyrolysis temperature. Iranian Journal of Soil and Water Research, 50(3), 725-739. (In Farsi)
Karimi, A., Moezzi, A., Chorom, M. and Enayatizamir, N. (2019b). Chemical fractions and availability of Zn in a calcareous soil in response to biochar amendments. Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 19(4), 851-864.
Karimi, A., Moezzi, A., Chorom, M. and Enayatizamir, N. (2019c). Application of biochar changed the status of nutrients and biological activity in a calcareous soil. Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 1-10.
Khalil, A., Sergeevich, N. and Borisova, V. (2018). Removal of ammonium from fish farms by biochar obtained from rice straw: Isotherm and kinetic studies for ammonium adsorption. Adsorption Science and Technology, 36(5-6), 1294-1309.
Khosravi Dehkordi, A., Afyuni, M. and Mousavi, S. F. 2006. Groundwater pollution by nitrate in the vicinity of Zayanderud river. Journal of Environmental Studies, 32(39), 33-40. (In Farsi)
Lawrinenko, M. and Laird, D. A. (2015). Anion exchange capacity of biochar. Green Chemistry, 17(9), 4628-4636.
Marzi, M., Farahbakhsh, M. and Kheial, S. (2016). Kinetics and isotherm of nitrate sorption from aqueous solution using biochar. Water and Soil Science, 26(1-1), 145-158. (In Farsi)
Marzi, M., Farahbakhsh, M. and Shahbazi, K. (2015). Characteristics of nitrate sorption onto activated carbon. Iranian Journal of Soil and Water Research, 46(3), 545-553. (In Farsi)
Mukherjee, A., Zimmerman, A. R. and Harris, W. (2011). Surface chemistry variations among a series of laboratory-produced biochars. Geoderma, 163(3-4), 247-255.
Murkani, M., Nasrollahi, M., Ravanbakhsh, M., Bahrami, P. and Jaafarzadeh Haghighi Fard, N. (2015). Evaluation of natural zeolite clinoptilolite efficiency for the removal of ammonium and nitrate from aquatic solutions. Environmental Health Engineering and Management Journal, 2(1), 17-22.
Novak, J. M., Busscher, W. J., Watts, D. W., Laird, D. A., Ahmedna, M. A. and Niandou, M. A. (2010). Short-term CO2 mineralization after additions of biochar and switchgrass to a Typic Kandiudult. Geoderma, 154(3-4), 281-288.
Sarkhot, D. V., Ghezzehei, T. A. and Berhe, A. A. (2013). Effectiveness of biochar for sorption of ammonium and phosphate from dairy effluent. Journal of Environmental Quality, 42(5), 1545-1554.
Singh, B., Camps-Arbestain, M. and Lehmann, J. (2017). Biochar: a guide to analytical methods. Csiro Publishing.
Tang, Y., Alam, M. S., Konhauser, K. O., Alessi, D. S., Xu, S., Tian, W. and Liu, Y. (2019). Influence of pyrolysis temperature on production of digested sludge biochar and its application for ammonium removal from municipal wastewater. Journal of Cleaner Production, 209, 927-936.
Usman, A. R., Ahmad, M., El-Mahrouky, M., Al-Omran, A., Ok, Y. S., Sallam, A. S., El-Naggar, H. and Al-Wabel, M. I. (2016). Chemically modified biochar produced from conocarpus waste increases NO3 removal from aqueous solutions. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 38(2), 511-521.
Volkmer, B.G., Ernst, B., Simon, J., Kuefer, R., Bartsch Jr., G., Bach, D., Gschwend, J.E., 2005. Influence of nitrate levels in drinking water on urological malignancies: A community-based cohort study. British Journal of Urology International, 95(7), 972–976.
Vu, T.M., Doan, D.P., Van, H.T., Nguyen, T.V., Vigneswaran, S. and Ngo, H. H. (2017). Removing ammonium from water using modified corncob-biochar. Science of the Total Environment, 579, 612-619.
Wang, Z., Guo, H., Shen, F., Yang, G., Zhang, Y., Zeng, Y., Wang, L., Xiao, H. and Deng, S. (2015). Biochar produced from oak sawdust by Lanthanum (La)-involved pyrolysis for adsorption of ammonium (NH4+), nitrate (NO3), and phosphate (PO43−). Chemosphere, 119, 646-653.
WHO. Guideline for drinking water quality. Geneva, 2005.
Wu, Z., Xu, F., Yang, C., Su, X., Guo, F., Xu, Q., Peng, G., He, Q. and Chen, Y. (2018). Highly efficient nitrate removal in a heterotrophic denitrification system amended with redox-active biochar: a molecular and electrochemical mechanism. Bioresource Technology, 275, 297-306.
Yang, D. I. N. G., Yunguo, L. I. U., Shaobo, L. I. U., Huang, X., Zhongwu, L. I., Xiaofei, T. A. N., Guangming Z. E. N. G. and Lu, Z. H. O. U. (2017). Potential benefits of biochar in agricultural soils: A Review. Pedosphere, 27(4), 645-661.
Yin, Q., Wang, R., and Zhao, Z. (2018). Application of Mg–Al-modified biochar for simultaneous removal of ammonium, nitrate, and phosphate from eutrophic water. Journal of Cleaner Production176, 230-240.
Zhan, T., Zhang, Y., Yang, Q., Deng, H., Xu, J., and Hou, W. (2016). Ultrathin layered double hydroxide nanosheets prepared from a water-in-ionic liquid surfactant-free microemulsion for phosphate removal from aquatic systems. Chemical Engineering Journal, 302, 459-465.
Zhang, Y., Li, Z., and Mahmood, I. B. (2014). Recovery of NH4+ by corn cob produced biochars and its potential application as soil conditioner. Frontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering, 8(6), 825-834.
Zhang, Y., Ma, Z., Zhang, Q., Wang, J., Ma, Q., Yang, Y., Luo, X. and Zhang, W. (2017). Comparison of the physicochemical characteristics of bio-char pyrolyzed from moso bamboo and rice husk with different pyrolysis temperatures. BioResources, 12(3), 4652-4669.