Chemical contamination of drinking water sources is a worldwide problem. However, few locally managed, sustainable, and low-cost on-site treatment technologies are available in rural, remote, and emergency/disaster relief/humanitarian crisis situations. Char filter-adsorbers have been used to treat drinking water for thousands of years and are still widely used today. Our studies show that some chars produced by traditional means from a range of feedstocks develop favorable sorption properties for uptake of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), a prevalent herbicide and water contaminant. However, more energy efficient, environmentally sustainable and scalable production of consistent highly sorptive chars can be accomplished with biomass gasification. Our laboratory studies demonstrate that locally produced char adsorbents derived from surplus agricultural and forestry biomass are effective for adsorbing 2,4-D. A year-long study of field-scale application of chars in Thailand is also presented. Based on these studies we present design recommendations for integrating char adsorbers into low-cost, multi-barrier treatment trains for on-site water provision.

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