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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Preparation of highly porous nitrogen-doped biochar derived from birch tree wastes with superior dye removal performance

Simões Dos Reis, Glaydson; Bergna, Davide; Grimm, Alejandro; Lima, Eder C.; Hu, Tao; Naushad, Mu; Lassi, Ulla


Heteroatom doping is a highly effective strategy that can be used to modify carbonaceous adsorbents to improve their chemical reactivity and increase their adsorptive properties. Herein, a simple method is reported for the preparation of nitrogen-doped biochar using a natural and abundant biowaste from birch trees and melamine as a nitrogen dopant for the adsorption of Acid red 18 (AR-18) dye from water. The doped biochars were also characterized for their performance during the treatment of synthetic effluents. The physicochemical characterization results showed that the N-doping process provoked remarkable chances on the biochar morphology, pore structure, and surface functionalities. N-doped biochar showed abundant nitrogen functional groups with 5.4 % of N in its structure while non-doped carbon showed traces with 0.47 %. Moreover, the specific surface area of doped biochar was dominated by mesopores (86.4 %) while non-doped was dominated by micropores (67.8 %). Raman analysis showed that the incorporation of N created more defects in the biochar structure. The adsorption experiments showed that the N-doping boosted the biochar adsorptive performance. The maximum adsorption capacity of the doped biochar was 545.2 mg g-1, while the non-doped exhibited 444.5 mg g-1, i.e., an increase of 22.6 %. The kinetic and equilibrium studies showed that Avrami fractional order and Liu models were the most suitable for describing the experimental AR-18 dye adsorption dat a. The equilibrium parameters were found to obey a nonlinear relationship with the temperature. Since the biochars are highly porous, pore filling was the main adsorption mechanism, however; AR-18 dye removal suggests that interactions such as electrostatic, hydrogen bonds, Lewis acid-base, and 7C-7C between the adsorbent and the dye are involved. The thermodynamic studies showed that the removal of the AR-18 dye from the solution is dependent on temperature, exothermic, and spontaneous. The N-doped biochar showed excellent removal performances of contaminants from synthetic effluents confirming their high efficiency for color removal. This research shows that N-doping is an efficient strategy to design effective, low-cost, and sustainable adsorbents to remediate dye contamination in wastewater.


Birch tree wastes; Nitrogen doping; Nitrogen-doped biochar; Anionic dye removal; Lab-made dye effluent

Published in

Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
2023, Volume: 669, article number: 131493