Biphasic apatite-carbon materials derived from pyrolysed fish bones for effective adsorption of persistent pollutants and heavy metals

C. Piccirillo*, I. S. Moreira, R. M. Novais, A. J. S. Fernandes, R. C. Pullar, P. M. L. Castro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Biphasic apatite-carbon biochar-type materials were prepared from pyrolysed cod fish bones and were assessed for the adsorption of persistent organic pollutants (pharmaceuticals diclofenac and fluoxetine), and heavy metals (Pb(II)). The materials, prepared with a simple pyrolysis process at different temperatures (200-1000 °C), were characterised with XRD, FTIR, Raman and SEM. Results showed that the pyrolysis temperature had a significant effect on the features/composition of the materials: up to 800 °C, carbonate apatite Ca10(PO4)6(CO3) was the main component, while for higher temperatures oxyapatite Ca10(PO4)6O was the dominant phase. Graphitic carbon was also detected. The mixed apatite-carbon products (bone char) exhibited high adsorption efficiency. Graphite carbon was the main adsorber for the pharmaceuticals, the best performing material being that pyrolysed at 1000 °C. Xm values of 43.29 and 55.87 mg/g were observed (Langmuir fitting), while KF values of 5.40 and 12.53 (mg/g)(L/mg)nF were obtained with the Freundhlich model (diclofenac and fluoxetine respectively). This is the first time that a biochar-like material has been used for fluoxetine adsorption. For Pb (II), the powder pyrolysed at 600 °C was the most effective, with the apatite playing a key role (Xm = 714.24 mg/g). This work shows that a by-product of the fish industry could be converted into efficient materials for environmental remediation; according to the pyrolysis conditions, powders effective in the removal of either organics or heavy metals can be obtained. Moreover, with pyrolysis at intermediate temperatures, materials capable of adsorbing both kinds of pollutants can be produced, even if less efficient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4884-4894
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Biochar
  • Heavy metal
  • Hydroxyapatite
  • Pharmaceutical persistent pollutants
  • Waste valorisation


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