Sustainable decentralized water treatment using locally generated biochar adsorbents
Chemical contamination of drinking water sources is a growing worldwide problem. However, few locally managed, sustainable, and low-cost on-site treatment technologies are available in rural/remote community and emergency/disaster relief/humanitarian crisis situations. Charcoal filtration has been used to treat drinking water for thousands of years and is still widely practiced today. Our research has shown that some charcoals produced by traditional means develop favorable sorption properties for uptake of chemical contaminants. However, the products are not consistent and moreover traditional charcoal production is highly polluting.
Energy efficient, environmentally sustainable and scalable production of consistent highly sorbing chars can be accomplished with biomass gasification. Our field and laboratory studies demonstrate that locally produced biochar adsorbents derived from surplus biomass are effective for adsorbing prevalent chemical water contaminants such as herbicides, pharmaceuticals, industrial wastes and fuel compounds. Based on these studies we develop and implement designs for integrating biochar filtration into multi-barrier decentralized small community and household water treatment systems.
Open source handbooks and videos available online:
Visit the Aqueous Solutions website (aqsolutions.org) to download open source handbooks and videos on topics such as "how to make effective water treatment char from agricultural and forestry residues using a simple, low-cost gasifier," and "integration of biochar filtration in multi-barrier treatment trains."
See also our article in the October, 2012 issue of Water Conditioning and Purification International: http://www.wcponline.com/pdf/October2012Kearns.pdf.