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HUSK (Cocos nucifera L.) BIO CHAR


An Undergraduate Thesis
Presented to the College of Arts and Sciences
of the University of San Carlos


In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry


March 2016

Chapter One

Rationale of the Study

Water contamination is one of the current problems that is being faced by society.
The growing number of industries being put up to meet the needs of the increasing
population also increases the number of wastes being thrown every day. Nickel is one of
the metals contained in industrial wastes that are detrimental to human health (Wu et al.,
2012). Nickel (Ni) is classified as a heavy metal and is harmful when consumed over the
normal amounts needed by the body. According to U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (2012), permissible levels of nickel in drinking water is 0.5 mg/L. Locally, the
Department of Health (2007) has set the maximum level of 0.02 mg/L of nickel in water.
Concentrations above the aforementioned values will result in ailments such as
pulmonary fibrosis, skin dermatitis, and renal edema (Wu et al., 2012).
Different methods have been developed in order to control the accumulation of
nickel including reverse osmosis, electrolytic extraction, chemical precipitation, ion
exchange, and cementation, which are economically unfavorable and inefficient when
used with low concentrations (Olayinka et al., 2009). Adsorption, however, is the most
efficient method in the removal of metal ions and is also inexpensive compared to the
other techniques (Olayinka et al., 2009).
Due to high surface area, large pore volume, broad pore size distribution,
carbonaceous materials such as activated carbons are commonly used. Activated carbon

accounts for the majority of the cost of the adsorption process. Researchers are trying to
find a good alternative to activated carbon such as agricultural waste (Liu et al., 2011).
Agricultural waste or bio mass when pyrolyzed produces low- cost, activated
carbon (Jia and Lua, 2008). Activated carbon coming from agricultural wastes are is
called bio chars. Bio chars are carbon rich materials that are produced through thermal
decomposition of bio mass with limited supply of oxygen (Lehmann and Joseph, 2009).
One of the most abundant agricultural wastes in the Philippines is coconut husk.
On average, there are 15.344 billion nuts harvested per year according to the Philippine
Coconut Authority (2013). Coconut husks, which are by-products of copra production,
can pose risk to human health when improperly handled such as infestation of rats
(Grimwood et al., 1975). It has also been used in numerous applications such as floor
polisher and aesthetics to recycle the material and reduce accumulation. Coconut husks
contain lignin and cellulose and functional groups such as hydroxyl, phenolic, carboxyl
which are possible binding sites of heavy metals (Zhang et al., 2015). This makes
coconut husk a potential bio-adsorbent, removing metal ions from wastewater, and at the
same time, recycling the material promoting zero-waste.

Statement of the Problem

This study aimeds to assess the ability of the coconut husk bio char to adsorb and
desorb nickel. Specifically, this study aimeds to determine the:
1. effects of the followingOptimum conditions for the for the adsorption process
based on the following:
a. cConcentration of nickel,
b. pH,

temperature, and
c. contact time;
2. Optimum conditions foreffects of the following for the desorption process
based on the following:
a. cConcentration of hydrochloric acidnickel,
b. contact timeTemperature, and
c. Contact time;
3. determination of aAdsorption isotherms, i.e., Freundlich and Langmuir; and
4. Ccharacterization of the biochar before and after adsorption and after

Significance of the Study

The results obtained in the study will benefit the electroplating and other nickel
related industries, which will be able to cut the costs in wastewater treatment and regulate
the amount of nickel in wastes as well as reuse the recovered nickel from the adsorbent.
The agricultural sector will also be able to profit from its waste since the coconut husks
can be used as a filter in wastewater treatments. Environmental organizations will be able
to easily monitor nickel levels in industrial wastes, avoiding contamination of
groundwater and protecting human health. From there, they will be able to focus on
addressing other environmental concerns.

Scope and Limitations

Coconut husk wereill be collected from coconut vendors in Talamban, Cebu City.
The study coveredwill cover the adsorption and desorption of nickel in coconut husk bio
char with varying initial concentrations of nickel, contact time, particle size, temperature,
and pH as well as the desorption of nickel from the same adsorbent with varying
concentrations of hydrochloric acid as the desorbing solution, and contact time at room

temperature and constant particle size of 75 microns. Nickel concentrations wereill be

quantified using the UV-Visible Spectrophotometry via dimethylglyoxime method
Shimadzu Atomic Adsorption Spectrophotometer and the data obtained wereill be
modeled through Langmuir and Freundlich isotherms. Other isotherm models and kinetic
modeling wereill not be considered in this study. Characterization of the coconut husk
before and after the adsorption and desorption studies will bere obtained using Scanning
Electron Microscopy (SEM).Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy.