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Influence of Pyrolysis Temperature on Biochar Property and Function as a Heavy Metal Sorbent in Soil

TitleInfluence of Pyrolysis Temperature on Biochar Property and Function as a Heavy Metal Sorbent in Soil
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsUchimiya, Minori, Wartelle Lynda H., Klasson Thomas K., Fortier Chanel A., and Lima Isabel M.
JournalJ. Agric. Food Chem
Date Published02/2011

While a large-scale soil amendment of biochars continues to receive interest for enhancing crop yields and to remediate contaminated sites, systematic study is lacking in how biochar properties translate into purported functions such as heavy metal sequestration. In this study, cottonseed hulls were pyrolyzed at five temperatures (200, 350, 500, 650, and 800 °C) and characterized for the yield, moisture, ash, volatile matter, and fixed carbon contents, elemental composition (CHNSO), BET surface area, pH, pHpzc, and by ATR-FTIR. The characterization results were compared with the literature values for additional source materials: grass, wood, pine needle, and broiler litter-derived biochars with and without post-treatments. At respective pyrolysis temperatures, cottonseed hull chars had ash content in between grass and wood chars, and significantly lower BET surface area in comparison to other plant source materials considered. The N:C ratio reached a maximum between 300 and 400 °C for all biomass sources considered, while the following trend in N:C ratio was maintained at each pyrolysis temperature: wood  cottonseed hull ˜ grass ˜ pine needle  broiler litter. To examine how biochar properties translate into its function as a heavy metal (NiII, CuII, PbII, and CdII) sorbent, a soil amendment study was conducted for acidic sandy loam Norfolk soil previously shown to have low heavy metal retention capacity. The results suggest that the properties attributable to the surface functional groups of biochars (volatile matter and oxygen contents and pHpzc) control the heavy metal sequestration ability in Norfolk soil, and biochar selection for soil amendment must be made case-by-case based on the biochar characteristics, soil property, and the target function.