Seattle University


Civil Engineering

Faculty Mentor

Phillip Thompson

Faculty Editor

Lyn Gualtieri

Student Editor

Tripp Ceyssens


Naturally occurring arsenic, in the soluble form of arsenate, contaminates groundwater resources for millions of people worldwide (WHO, 2018). While there are several technologies available to remediate arsenic contaminated water, the most effective approaches are expensive to implement and maintain, especially for people who are living in poverty. This research studied an inexpensive method for removing arsenate from drinking water by using enhanced biochar. The treatment method was developed by simulating a process that could be adopted by a low-income family. Aspen wood chips were treated with a 10% (by mass) MgCl2 or MgSO4 solution and were then pyrolyzed in low emission cookstoves. Biochar from the MgCl2 and MgSO4 treatments were determined to have arsenic adsorption coefficients (Kd) of 36.7 and 53.2 L/kg, respectively. In column tests, enhanced biochars were able to achieve 95 percent removal of arsenate from 2 mg/L solutions. However, the treated water exceeded the 10 ug/L maximum contaminant level (MCL) for arsenate, and it averaged an unpotable concentration of total dissolved solids.