Bark and biochar in horizontal flow filters effectively remove microplastics from stormwater

Gabriella Rullander*, Claudia Lorenz, Ann Margret Strömvall, Jes Vollertsen, Sahar S. Dalahmeh

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Organic materials such as bark and biochar can be effective filter materials to treat stormwater. However, the efficiency of such filters in retaining microplastics (MPs) – an emerging stormwater pollutant – has not been sufficiently studied. This study investigated the removal and transport of a mixture of MPs commonly associated with stormwater. Different MP types (polyamide, polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene) were mixed into the initial 2 cm material of horizontal bark and biochar filters of 25, 50, and 100 cm lengths. The MP types consisted of spherical and fragmented shapes in size ranges of 25–900 μm. The filters were subjected to a water flow of 5 mL/min for one week, and the total effluents were analyzed for MPs by μFTIR imaging. To gain a deeper insight, one 100 cm bark filter replica was split into 10 cm segments, and MPs in each segment were extracted and counted. The results showed that MPs were retained effectively, >97%, in all biochar and bark filters. However, MPs were detected in all effluents regardless of filter length. Effluent concentrations of 5–750 MP/L and 35–355 MP/L were measured in bark and biochar effluents, respectively, with >91% of the MP counts consisting of small-sized (25 μm) polyamide spherical particles. Combining all data, a decrease in average MP concentration was noticed with longer filters, likely attributed to channeling in a 25 and 50-cm filter. The analyses of MPs in the bark media revealed that most MPs were retained in the 0–10 cm segment but that some MPs were transported further, with 19% of polyamide retained in the 80–90 cm segment. Overall, this study shows promising results for bark and biochar filters to retain MPs, while highlighting the importance of systematic packing of filters to reduce MP emissions to the environment from polluted stormwater.

TidsskriftEnvironmental Pollution
StatusUdgivet - 1 sep. 2024

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The work presented in this article is part of the activities implemented within the project \u201CCities with less microplastics: Road-side green filters to remove microplastics from urban stormwater\u201D, which was funded by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS), grant number 2019-01911.


  • Filter solutions
  • MP
  • Particle transport
  • Porous material
  • Stormwater management
  • μ-FTIR

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