Upcycling brewer's spent grain waste into activated carbon and carbon nanotubes for energy and other applications via two-stage activation

Ahmed I. Osman*, Edward O'Connor, Glenn McSpadden, Jehad K. Abu-Dahrieh, Charlie Farrell, Ala'a H. Al-Muhtaseb, John Harrison, David W. Rooney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Brewer's Spent Grain (BSG), a form of lignocellulosic biomass more commonly known as barley waste was used to synthesize activated carbon (AC) and carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The produced materials were used in water remediation application. RESULTS: A novel approach involving two activation steps; first, with phosphoric acid (designated BAC-P) and then using potassium hydroxide (designated BAC-K) was proposed for the production of AC and CNTs from BSG. The AC produced showed a surface area as high as 692.3 m2 g−1 with a pore volume of 0.44 cm3 g−1. This can help aid and facilitate the circular economy by effectively upcycling and valorizing waste lignocellulosic biomass to high surface area AC and subsequently, multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). Consequently, MWCNTs were prepared from the produced AC by mixing it with the nitrogen (N)-based material melamine and iron precursor, iron (III) oxalate hexahydrate, where it produced hydrophilic MWCNTs. Both AC and CNT materials were used in heavy metal removal (HMR), where the maximum lead absorption was observed for sample BAC-K with 77% removal capacity after the first hour of testing. CONCLUSION: This result signifies that the synthesis of these upcycled materials can have an application in the areas of wastewater treatment or other AC/CNT end uses with a rapid cycle time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-195
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Activated carbon
  • Activating agent
  • Biomass
  • Brewer's Spent Grain
  • Carbon nanoparticles
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Multi-wall carbon nanotubes
  • Pyrolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Upcycling brewer's spent grain waste into activated carbon and carbon nanotubes for energy and other applications via two-stage activation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this