Removal of NO at low concentration from air in urban built environments by activated miscanthus biochar

Carlos G. díaz-Maroto, Blanca Sáenz de miera, Laura Collado, Jose Fermoso, Ondřej Mašek, Patricia Pizarro, David P. Serrano, Inés Moreno, Javier Fermoso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This work presents an innovative and sustainable approach to remove NO emissions from urban ambient air in confined areas (underground parking areas or tunnels) using low-cost activated carbons obtained from Miscanthus biochar (MSP700) by physical activation (with CO2 or steam) at temperatures ranging from 800 to 900 °C. The NO removal capacity of the activated biochars was evaluated under different conditions (temperature, humidity and oxygen concentration) and compared against a commercial activated carbon. This last material showed a clear dependence on oxygen concentration and temperature, exhibiting a maximum capacity of 72.6% in air at 20 °C, whilst, its capacity notably decreased at higher temperatures, revealing that physical NO adsorption is the limiting step for the commercial sample that presents limited oxygen surface functionalities. In contrast, MSP700-activated biochars reached nearly complete NO removal (99.9%) at all tested temperatures in air ambient. Those MSP700-derived carbons only required low oxygen concentration (4 vol%) in the gas stream to achieve the full NO removal at 20 °C. Moreover, they also showed an excellent performance in the presence of H2O, reaching NO removal higher than 96%. This remarkable activity results from the abundance of basic oxygenated surface groups, which act as active sites for NO/O2 adsorption, along with the presence of a homogeneous microporosity of 6 Å, which enables intimate contact between NO and O2. These features promote the oxidation of NO to NO2, which is further retained over the carbon surface. Therefore, the activated biochars studied here could be considered promising materials for the efficient removal of NO at low concentrations from air at moderate temperatures, thus closely approaching real-life conditions in confined spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117610
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Early online date2 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023


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