Production of char from vacuum pyrolysis of South-African sugar cane bagasse and its characterization as activated carbon and biochar
The potential of vacuum pyrolysis to convert sugar cane bagasse into char materials for wastewater treatment and soil amendment is the focus of this research paper. Vacuum pyrolysis produces both bio-oil and char in similar quantities. Vacuum pyrolysis has the potential to produce high quality chars for wastewater treatment and soil amendment directly during the conversion process, with no further upgrading required. In the present study, chars with the required porous structure was obtained directly from the vacuum pyrolysis process, making it very efficient as adsorbent both in terms of methylene blue (MB) adsorption with a N 2-BET surface area of 418 m 2 g -1. Further steam activation of the chars benefited the development of meso- and macroporosity, although this upgrading step was not essential to achieve the required performance of char as an MB adsorbent. The development of large pores during the vacuum pyrolysis favored physisorption of MB, rather than chemisorption. The chemical nature of the vacuum pyrolysis char resulted in a slightly acidic surface (pH 6.56). The biochar from vacuum pyrolysis can be considered as a highly beneficial soil amendment, as it would enhance soil nutrient and water holding capacity, due to its high cation exchange capacity (122 cmol c kg -1) and high surface area. It is also a good source of beneficial plant macro- and micronutrients and contains negligible levels of toxic elements. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.