ACS Environ Au. 2022 Sep 16;3(1):24-33. doi: 10.1021/acsenvironau.2c00028. eCollection 2023 Jan 18.
Nickel (Ni) hyperaccumulators make up the largest proportion of hyperaccumulator plant species; however, very few biochar studies with hyperaccumulator feedstock have examined them. This research addresses two major hypotheses: (1) Biochar synthesized from the Ni hyperaccumulator Odontarrhena chalcidica grown on natural, metal-rich soil is an effective Ni sorbent due to the plant’s ability to bioaccumulate soluble and exchangeable cations; and (2) such biochar can sorb high concentrations of Ni from complex solutions. We found that O. chalcidica grew on sandy, nutrient-poor soil from a Minnesota mining district but did not hyperaccumulate Ni. Biochar prepared from O. chalcidica biomass at a pyrolysis temperature of 900 °C sorbed up to 154 mg g-1 of Ni from solution, which is competitive with the highest-performing Ni sorbents in recent literature and the highest of any unmodified, plant-based biochar material reported in the literature. Precipitation, cation exchange, and adsorption mechanisms contributed to removal. Ni was effectively removed from acidic solutions with initial pH > 2 within 30 min. O. chalcidica biochar also removed Ni(II) from a simulated Ni electroplating rinsewater solution. Together, these results provide evidence for O. chalcidica biochar as an attractive material for simultaneously treating high-Ni wastewater and forming an enhanced Ni bio-ore.