Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 229:320 | Cite as

Adsorption of Ammonium in Aqueous Solutions by the Modified Biochar and its Application as an Effective N-Fertilizer

  • Lu Shang
  • Hao Xu
  • Shaobin HuangEmail author
  • Yongqing Zhang


Water body contamination by ammonium is of major concern because it poses huge risks and harm to the environment and human health. Biochar derived from waste spruce sawdust was modified by soaking it into HNO3 and Na2CO3 to obtain a low-cost and high-efficiency adsorbent. The factors affecting the removal of ammonium from aqueous solutions, the mechanisms by which ammonium was adsorbed by the modified biochar, and the potential application of the post-adsorption biochar as an effective N-fertilizer were studied. pH and co-existing ions were affirmed to affect the capacity of the modified biochar to adsorb ammonium. The pseudo-second order kinetic model and Freundlich model could best fit the ammonium adsorption data. Cation exchange was the most important mechanism involved in ammonium adsorption by the modified biochar. The high adsorption capacity of the modified biochar makes it a promising alternative adsorbent to remove ammonium from wastewater. Furthermore, the seedling bioassay experiment demonstrated that the post-adsorption biochar can be cycled back directly to the soil as an effective N-fertilizer.


Waste biomass Modified biochar Ammonium Adsorption characteristics Cation exchange N-fertilizer 


Funding Information

This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers U1701243 and 51572089), and Research Project of Guangdong Provincial Department of Science and Technology (2016B020240002).

Supplementary material

11270_2018_3956_MOESM1_ESM.docx (25 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 24 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lu Shang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hao Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shaobin Huang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yongqing Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Environment and EnergySouth China University of TechnologyGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Environment and Pollution ControlGuangzhouChina

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