Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 3065–3074 | Cite as

Study on the influence of surface potential on the nitrate adsorption capacity of metal modified biochar

  • Li Long
  • Yingwen XueEmail author
  • Xiaolan Hu
  • Ying Zhu
Research Article


Carbon materials, as effective adsorbents to numerous aqueous cationic contaminants, have been hardly applied to remove anions in wastewater. In this work, different modifying agents were used to modify corncob biochars (CC) and the surface potentials of these modified biochars were determined. Based on the findings, modification principle was determined to reveal the relationship between surface potentials of the biochars and their nitrate adsorption capacities. The surface potential was dominated by the metal cations and multivalent cations led to even positive zeta potential. The formation of metal oxide not only led to the augment in surface area but also increase the surface charge. FeCl3-modified biochar (Fe-CC) with the highest positive surface charge was utilized to remove anions (nitrate) from aqueous solutions. Characterization results confirm that Fe2O3 structure were successfully formed on biochar surface. This led to the formation of iron nitrate hydrate (Fe(NO3)3·9H2O), which enabled higher nitrate adsorption performance than that of pristine biochar. Batch experiments showed that nitrate adsorption on the Fe-CC was stable and almost independent of experimental pH and temperature. Based on the Langmuir model results, the maximum nitrate adsorption capacity of Fe-CC was 32.33 mg/g. Coexisting anions had negative influence on the adsorption performance. Findings of this work suggest that the modified biochar can be used in wastewater treatment to remove anions such as nitrate.

Graphic abstract


Metal modified biochar Surface charge Zeta potential Modification principle Adsorption mechanism 



The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable insight and helpful suggestions.

Funding information

This work was partially supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2042016kf0173) and the Wuhan Water Engineering & Technology Co. Ltd.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Civil EngineeringWuhan UniversityWuhanChina

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