Thursday, February 17, 2011

The immobilisation and retention of soluble arsenic, cadmium and zinc by biochar.

Environ Pollut. 2011 Feb;159(2):474-80. Epub 2010 Nov 24.
Beesley L, Marmiroli M.
Faculty of Science, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK.
Water-soluble inorganic pollutants may constitute an environmental toxicity problem if their movement through soils and potential transfer to plants or groundwater is not arrested. The capability of biochar to immobilise and retain arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd) and zinc (Zn) from a multi-element contaminated sediment-derived soil was explored by a column leaching experiment and scanning electron microanalysis (SEM/EDX). Sorption of Cd and Zn to biochar's surfaces assisted a 300 and 45-fold reduction in their leachate concentrations, respectively. Retention of both metals was not affected by considerable leaching of water-soluble carbon from biochar, and could not be reversed following subsequent leaching of the sorbant biochar with water at pH 5.5. Weakly water-soluble As was also retained on biochar's surface but leachate concentrations did not duly decline. It is concluded that biochar can rapidly reduce the mobility of selected contaminants in this polluted soil system, with especially encouraging results for Cd.

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