Spent brewery grains, a by-product of the brewing process, were used as precursor of biochars and activated carbons to be applied to the removal of pharmaceuticals from water. Biochars were obtained by pyrolysis of the raw materials, while activated carbons were produced by adding a previous chemical activation step. The influence of using different precursors (from distinct fermentation processes), activating agents (potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, and phosphoric acid), pyrolysis temperatures, and residence times was assessed. The adsorbents were physicochemically characterized and applied to the removal of the antiepileptic carbamazepine from water. Potassium hydroxide activation produced the materials with the most promising properties and adsorptive removals, with specific surface areas up to 1120 m2 g−1 and maximum adsorption capacities up to 190 ± 27 mg g−1 in ultrapure water. The adsorption capacity suffered a reduction of < 70% in wastewater, allowing to evaluate the impact of realistic matrices on the efficiency of the materials.
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The authors would like to thank Valdemar Esteves, Marta Otero, and Guilaine Jaria for the helpful scientific discussions. Milton Fontes and workers of Aveiro’s Sewage Treatment Plant (Águas do Centro Litoral) are gratefully acknowledged for assistance on the effluent sampling campaigns. The authors also thank Faustino Microcervejeira, Lda. (Aveiro, Portugal) and its head brewer Gonçalo Faustino for kindly providing the brewing residues used in this work.
Thanks are due for the financial support to CESAM (UID/AMB/50017/2019), to FCT/MEC through national funds, and the co-funding by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020. Vânia Calisto is thankful to FCT for the Scientific Employment Stimulus Program (CEECIND/00007/2017), while María V. Gil acknowledges support from a Ramón y Cajal grant (RYC-2017-21937) of the Spanish government, co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF).
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Sousa, A.F.C., Gil, M.V. & Calisto, V. Upcycling spent brewery grains through the production of carbon adsorbents—application to the removal of carbamazepine from water. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-09543-0
- Brewery wastes
- Chemical activation
- Activated carbon
- Wastewater treatment