Kinetic and isothermal adsorption-desorption of PAEs on biochars: effect of biomass feedstock, pyrolysis temperature, and mechanism implication of desorption hysteresis

Research Article


Biochar has the potential to sequester biomass carbon efficiently into land, simultaneously while improving soil fertility and crop production. Biochar has also attracted attention as a potential sorbent for good performance on adsorption and immobilization of many organic pollutants such as phthalic acid esters (PAEs), a typical plasticizer in plastic and presenting a current environmental issue. Due to lack of investigation on the kinetic and thermodynamic adsorption-desorption of PAEs on biochar, we systematically assessed adsorption-desorption for two typical PAEs, dimethyl phthalate (DMP) and diethyl phthalate (DEP), using biochar derived from peanut hull and wheat straw at different pyrolysis temperatures (450, 550, and 650 °C). The aromaticity and specific surface area of biochars increased with the pyrolysis temperature, whereas the total amount of surface functional groups decreased. The quasi-second-order kinetic model could better describe the adsorption of DMP/DEP, and the adsorption capacity of wheat straw biochars was higher than that of peanut hull biochars, owing to the O-bearing functional groups of organic matter on exposed minerals within the biochars. The thermodynamic analysis showed that DMP/DEP adsorption on biochar is physically spontaneous and endothermic. The isothermal desorption and thermodynamic index of irreversibility indicated that DMP/DEP is stably adsorbed. Sorption of PAEs on biochar and the mechanism of desorption hysteresis provide insights relevant not only to the mitigation of plasticizer mobility but also to inform on the effect of biochar amendment on geochemical behavior of organic pollutants in the water and soil.


Biochar PAEs Adsorption Desorption Hysteresis 



We thank for CUGB Famous Teacher Auditorium Program 2017 for Dr. Saran P. Sohi from University of Edinburgh. We also appreciate Dr. Saran P. Sohi to comment and polish our revised paper thoroughly. We are grateful to the editor and three anonymous reviewers whose comments improved the quality of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_1356_MOESM1_ESM.docx (275 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 274 kb).


  1. Abdul G, Ghulam A (2016) Adsorption of phthalic acid esters (PAEs) on chemically aged biochars. Green Process Synth 5:407–417Google Scholar
  2. Abdul G, Wang P, Zhang D, Li H (2015) Adsorption of diethyl phthalate on carbon nanotubes: pH dependence and thermodynamics. Environ Eng Sci 32:103–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abdul G, Zhu XY, Chen BL (2017) Structural characteristics of biochar-graphene nanosheet composites and their adsorption performance for phthalic acid esters. Chem Eng J 319:9–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Abdul G, Zhu XY, Chen BL (2018) Biochar composite membrane for high performance pollutant management: fabrication, structural characteristics and synergistic mechanisms. Environ Pollut 233:1013–1023Google Scholar
  5. Ahmad M, Lee SS, Dou XM, Mohan D, Sung J, Yang JK, Yang JE, Ok YS (2012) Effects of pyrolysis temperature on soybean stover- and peanut shell-derived biochar properties and TCE adsorption in water. Bioresour Technol 118:536–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ahmad M, Lee SS, Dou XM, Mohan D, Sung JK, Yang JE, Ok YS (2013) Modeling adsorption kinetics of trichloroethylene onto biochars derived from soybean stover and peanut shell wastes. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20:8364–8373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blair JD, Ikonomou MG, Kelly BC, Surrdge B, Gobas F (2009) Ultra-trace determination of phthalate ester metabolites in seawater, sediments, and biota from an urbanized marine inlet by LC/ESI-MS/MS. Environ Sci Pollut Res 43:6262–6268Google Scholar
  8. Bmida WJ, Pignatello JJ, Lu YF, Ravikovitch PI, Neimark AV, Xing BS (2003) Sorption hysteresis of benzene in charcoal particles. Environ Sci Technol 7:409–417Google Scholar
  9. Cao XD, Ma LN, Liang Y, Gao B, Harris W (2011) Simultaneous immobilization of lead and atrazine in contaminated soils using dairy manure biochar. Environ Sci Technol 45:4884–4889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carter MC, Kilduff JE (1995) Site energy distribution analysis of preloaded adsorbents. Environ Sci Technol 29:1773–1780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen BL, Chen ZM (2009) Sorption of naphthalene and 1-naphthol by biochars of orange peels with different pyrolytic temperatures. Chemosphere 76:127–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen BL, Zhou DD, Zhu LZ (2008) Transitional adsorption and partition of nonpolar and polar aromatic contaminants by biochars of pine needles with different pyrolytic temperatures. Environ Sci Technol 42:5137–5143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chinedum A, Zaiton AM, Zahara I, Mohamad PZ, Adibah Y (2015) The impact of biochars on sorption and biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in soils—a review. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:0944–1344Google Scholar
  14. Chun Y, Sheng GY, Chiou CT, Xing BS (2004) Compositions and sorptive properties of crop residue-derived chars. Environ Sci Technol 38:4649–4655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Du JT, Sun PF, Feng Z, Zhang X, Zhao YH (2016) The biosorption capacity of biochar for 4-bromodiphengl ether: study of its kinetics, mechanism, and use as a carrier for immobilized bacteria. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:3770–3780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gao B, Wang P, Zhou HD, Zhang ZY, Wu FC, Jin J, Kang MJ, Sun K (2013) Sorption of phthalic acid esters in two kinds of landfill leachates by the carbonaceous sorbents. Bioresour Technol 136:295–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jie C (2009) Phthalate acid esters in Potamogeton crispus L. from Haihe River, China. Chemosphere 77:48–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jin J, Sun K, Wu FC, Gao B, Wang ZY, Kang MJ, Bai YC, Zhao Y, Liu XT, Xing BS (2014) Single-solute and bi-solute sorption of phenanthrene and dibutyl phthalate by plant- and manure-derived biochars. Sci Total Environ 473–474:308–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Keiluweit M, Nico PS, Johnson MG, Kleber M (2010) Dynamic molecular structure of plant biomass-derived black carbon (biochar). Environ Sci Technol 44:1247–1253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kookana RS (2010) The role of biochar in modifying the environmental fate, bioavailability, and efficacy of pesticides in soils: a review. Aust J Soil Res 48:627–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lehmann J, Joesph S (2009) Biochar for environmental management: science and technology. Earthscan Ltd., London, pp 1–9Google Scholar
  22. Lu L, Wang J, Chen BL (2018) Adsorption and desorption of phthalic acid esters on graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide as affected by humic acid. Environ Pollut 232:505–513CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mahmoud M, Abdel D, José RU, Raúl OP, José DMD, Manuel SP (2012) Environmental impact of phthalic acid esters and their removal from water and sediments by different technologies—a review. J Environ Manag 109:164–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Novak JM, Lima I, Xing BS, Gaskin JW, Steiner C, Das KC, Ahmedna M, Rehrah D, Watts DW, Busscher WJ, Schomberg H (2009) Characterization of designer biochar produced at different temperatures and their effects on a loamy sand. Annu Environ Sci 3:195–206Google Scholar
  25. Oleszczuk P, Ćwikła-Bundyra W, Bogusz A, Skwarek E, Ok YS (2016) Characterization of nanoparticles of biochars from different biomass. J Anal Appl Pyrolysis 121:165–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sander M, Lu Y, Pignatello JJ (2005) A thermodynamically based method to quantify true sorption hysteresis. J Environ Qual 34:1063–1072CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sha YJ, Xia XH, Yang ZF, Huang GH (2007) Distribution of PAEs in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, China. Environ Monit Assess 124:277–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sun K, Jin J, Marco K, Markus K, Wang ZY, Pan ZZ, Xing BS (2012) Polar and aliphatic domains regulate sorption of phthalic acid esters (PAEs) to biochars. Bioresour Technol 118:120–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sun K, Kang MJ, Zhang ZY, Jin J, Wang ZY, Pan ZZ, Xu DY, Wu FC, Xing BS (2013) Impact of deashing treatment on biochar structural properties and potential sorption mechanisms of phenanthrene. Environ Sci Technol 47:11473–11481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wang WL, Wu QY, Wang C, He T, Hu HY (2015) Health risk assessment of phthalate esters (PAEs) in drinking water sources of China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22:3620–3630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wang Y, Liu RH (2017) Comparison of characteristics of twenty-one types of biochar and their ability to remove multi-heavy metals and methylene blue in solution. Fuel Process Technol 160:55–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wu HL, Che XD, Ding ZH, Hu X, Anne EC, Chen H, Gao B (2016) Release of soluble elements from biochars derived from various biomass feedstocks. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:1905–1915CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yang X, Liu JJ, Kim MG, Huang HG, Lu KP, Guo X, He LZ, Lin XM, Che L, Ye ZQ, Wang HL (2016) Effect of biochar on the extractability of heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn) and enzyme activity in soil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:974–984CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Yang Y, Shu L, Wang XL, Xing BS, Tao S (2011) Impact of de-ashing humic acid and humin on organic matter structural properties and sorption mechanisms of phenanthrene. Environ. Sci. Technol 45:3996–4002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhang JY, Wu CD, Jia AY, Hu B (2014) Kinetics, equilibrium and thermodynamics of the sorption of p-nitrophenol on two variable charge soils of Southern China. Appl Surf Sci 298:95–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhang LF, Dong L, Ren LJ, Shi SX, Zhou L, Zhang T (2012) Concentration and source identification of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and phthalic acid esters in the surface water of the Yangtze River Delta, China. J Environ Sci 24:335–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zhang XK, Wang HL, He LZ, Lu KP, Ajit S, Li JW, Nanthi SB, Pei JC, Huang HG (2013) Using biochar for remediation of soils contaminated with heavy metals and organic pollutants. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20:8472–8483CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental GeologyChina University of GeosciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Earth Sciences and ResourcesChina University of GeosciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations