Graduate Program


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Douglas G. Klarup

Thesis Committee Member

Daniel J. Sheeran

Thesis Committee Member

Barbara Lawrence

Thesis Committee Member

Jonathan P. Blitz


A series of experiments quantifying extractable polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in biochar before and after various treatments were conducted. The analytical approach included solvent extraction of PAHs with toluene, further isolation and column cleanup before gas chromatography mass spectroscopy (GC-MS) analysis. The treatment methods include exposing biochar samples to sunlight and UV radiation with and without additives and reacting with hydrogen peroxide.

Two biochar samples from the Eastern Illinois University bench-type gasifier and commercial biochar were analyzed. Analyzing of three biochar types revealed that plant biochar has lower total PAH concentration than wood (W) biochar or wood and plant (giant cane) 50% each (W+P) biochar. Sunlight exposure of biochar with and without additives (ZnO and Na2S2O8) exhibited total decrease of PAHs by factors 0.9 and 0.8 respectively. The UV exposure experiment revealed that total PAHs were increased by the factor 0.2 irrespective of the biochar type. Reaction with H2O2 resulted in total PAH concentration increase by factors of 0.4-0.5 irrespective of the biochar type. Both UV and sunlight exposure of biochar clearly indicated that LMM 2 ring PAHs and 3 ring PAHs acenaphthylene, acenaphthene, and fluorene and HMM 5 and 6 ring PAHs show a decrease by considerable factor ranged 0.6-1. Furthermore, all oxidation methods resulted in an increase of PAHs anthracene, phenanthrene, pyrene, and benze(a)anthracene irrespective to treatment methods and biochar types.

Included in

Chemistry Commons