High levels of fluoride in groundwater are a significant environmental and health problem in Thailand, as in many parts of the world. Small household defluoridators have several advantages over centralized treatment systems. In Thailand, however, use of bone char for water treatment has met resistance because of objectionable taste and odours of the water produced and the social resistance to handling fresh bone. This paper presents a method that uses bone charcoal as an absorbent for removing fluoride from groundwater. The commercially provided boiled bone is burned in a simple homemade furnace that can be constructed, operated and maintained easily by small rural householders. The method to produce the Thai bone char eliminates the odour and objectionable taste and also does not require the user to handle fresh bone, thus eliminating the social resistance. To evaluate the efficacy of the absorbent, batch experiments compare Thai and Indian bone char. Sorption isotherms are fit to the Freundlich and Langmuir equations and the kinetics are modelled using the pseudo first-order Lagergren equation. Results show that the sorption characteristics of Thai bone char compare favourably with the Indian bone char, with approximately 80% of the fluoride removed in both cases.
Keywords: bone char, fluoride, groundwater