In drinking water, high concentrations of fluoride and arsenic can have adverse effects on human health. Waste deriving from the rice industry (rice husk, rice straw, rice bran) can be promising adsorbent materials, because they are (i) produced in large quantities in many parts of the world, (ii) recoverable in a circular economy perspective, (iii) at low cost if compared to expensive conventional activated carbon, and (iv) easily manageable even in developing countries. For the removal of fluoride, rice husk and rice straw allowed to obtain adsorption capacities in the range of 7.9-15.2 mg/g. Using rice husk for arsenic adsorption, excellent results were achieved with adsorption capacities above 19 mg/g. The best results both for fluorides and arsenic (>50 mg/g) were found with metal- or chemical-modified rice straw and rice husk. Identifying the next steps of future research to ensure the upscaling of biochar from recovered by-products, it is fundamental to perform: (i) tests on real waters for multicomponent adsorption; (ii) experiments with pilot plants in continuous operation; (iii) cost analysis/real applicability of modification treatments such as metal coupling or chemical synthesis; (iv) more studies on the biochar stability and on its regeneration or recovery after use.
Maria Cristina Collivignarelli
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