Remediation projects using biochar, or charcoal made from things like trees and organic matter, continue to be explored. Due to the porous structure of carbons like biochar, they’re effective at filtering and holding onto small particles. Read more about the structure of biochar and how it works.
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The recent article published in Environmental Health News by Lindsey Konkel highlights the potential for biochar as a filtering agent to help cycle dirty urban stormwater run off for clean usable water.
Capturing and reusing urban storm water could be a boon for water-stressed cities—if we can find a way to clean it up
Capturing and reusing urban stormwater could be a boon for water-stressed cities — if we can find a way to clean it up.
Facing a future of increasingly erratic rains, water-stressed cities are looking for solutions. One alluring possibility? The capture and reuse of stormwater.
Using carbon, including both coal-based and biomass-based carbon, to remediate soil, water, air and our health is not a new development. Early uses of carbons to suck up contaminants date back to 1500 B.C. in Egypt as a health remedy and 400 B.C. when Ancient Hindus and Phoenician used it to filter water.
So while not a new technology, aromatic carbons are gaining momentum in modern society has an incredibly versatile tool for cleaning up contaminants. Specifically biochar, which is an easily produced and sustainable source of carbon, is being testing across applications to gauge its performance.
One great example of biochar being used to filter runoff water is a filtration system developed by John Miedema of BioLogical Carbon LLC.
Biochar, a by-product of Port Townsend Paper Corp’s combustion process that otherwise might go to landfills, is washed and used to assemble industrial-size water filters installed at the Port of Port Townsend Boat Haven. There, the filters demonstrate that they can remove more than 99 percent of the zinc and 95 percent of copper that otherwise might be streamed into Port Townsend Bay through stormwater runoff.
“Any time we can direct mill byproducts to a beneficial reuse, it is a win for everyone,” said mill President Hagan. “This project is made even more important because of the potential it represents to find an affordable means of mitigating an environmental concern across our state and beyond.”
The Port’s project, Cairns wrote, would be the first in the state to “employ biochar-based filtration media as the cornerstone of a comprehensive site stormwater management approach.”