Campus Units

Agronomy, Chemistry, Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, Ames Laboratory, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Food Science and Human Nutrition

Document Type


Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering




Groundwater contamination with chlorinated hydrocarbons has become a widespread problem that threatens water quality and human health. Permeable reactive barriers (PRBs), which employ zerovalent iron, are effective for remediation; however, a need exists to reduce the economic and environmental costs associated with constructing PRBs. We present a method to produce zerovalent iron supported on macroporous carbon using only lignin and magnetite. Biochar-ZVI (BC-ZVI) produced by this method exhibits a broad pore size distribution with micrometer sized ZVI phases dispersed throughout a carbon matrix. X-ray diffraction revealed that pyrolysis at 900 °C of a 50/50 lignin–magnetite mixture resulted in almost complete reduction of magnetite to ZVI and that compression molding promotes iron reduction in pyrolysis due to mixing of starting materials. High temperature pyrolysis of lignin yields some graphite in BC-ZVI due to reduction of carbonaceous gases on iron oxides. TCE was removed from water as it passed through a column packed with BC-ZVI at flow rates representative of average and high groundwater flow. One-dimensional convection–dispersion modeling revealed that adsorption by biochar influences TCE transport and that BC-ZVI facilitated removal of TCE from contaminated water by both adsorption and degradation.


Reprinted with permission from ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering 5 (2017): 1586, doi:10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b02375.

Copyright Owner

American Chemical Society



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