Siti Hadjar Md Arshad, Norzita Ngadi, Syieluing Wong, Noraishah Saidina Amin, Fatin Amirah Razmi, Nurul Balqis Mohamed, Ibrahim Mohammed Inuwa, Astimar Abdul Aziz
Malaysia, as one of the leading palm oil producers in the world faces problems in disposal of oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB), which can be converted into various value-added products, including adsorbents. This study investigated the adsorption of phenol from its solution using biochar produced from EFB through carbonization. Response Surface Methodology (RSM) with Box-Behnken design was used to investigate the effects of three parameters (temperature, time and heating rate) during carbonization on phenol removal by the biochar produced. This was followed by process optimization based on statistical analysis. The results indicated that the optimized carbonization conditions were; 500 °C for temperature, 10 °C/min of heating rate and 80 min for reaction time, which led to 7.57% of phenol removal. SEM revealed coarse and uneven surface of the biochar surface, with small degree of pore development. Comparison between FTIR spectrum of EFB and biochar revealed the loss of water and hydroxyl compounds from EFB during carbonization. The lack of oxygenated groups (especially carbonyl groups) on the adsorbent surface as well as limited number of pores were the possible reasons leading to low phenol adsorption by biochar, therefore conversion of the biochar to activated carbon was necessary for higher adsorption performance.