• biomass;
  • carbon;
  • hydrothermal carbonization;
  • iron;
  • magnetic properties


Particles of iron oxide (Fe3O4; 20–40 nm) were embedded within activated carbons during the activation of hydrothermally carbonized (HTC) biomasses in a flow of CO2. Four different HTC biomass samples (horse manure, grass cuttings, beer production waste, and biosludge) were used as precursors for the activated carbons. Nanoparticles of iron oxide formed from iron catalyst included in the HTC biomasses. After systematic optimization, the activated carbons had specific surface areas of about 800 m2 g−1. The pore size distributions of the activated carbons depended strongly on the degree of carbonization of the precursors. Activated carbons prepared from highly carbonized precursors had mainly micropores, whereas those prepared from less carbonized precursors contained mainly mesopores. Given the strong magnetism of the activated carbon–nano-Fe3O4 composites, they could be particularly useful for water purification.