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Assessment of addition of biochar to filtering mixtures for potential water pollutant removal

Piscitelli, Lea, Rivier, Pierre-Adrien, Mondelli, Donato, Miano, Teodoro, Joner, ErikJ.
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.3 pp. 2167-2174
agricultural soils, biochar, biomass, carbon, carbon footprint, filtration, forests, green roofs, heavy metals, hulls, olives, peat, phenanthrenes, pollutants, pyrolysis, runoff, sewage sludge, sewage systems, sorbents, sorption, urban areas, volcanic rocks, water flow, wet deposition
Green roofs are used increasingly to alleviate peaks of water discharge into the sewage systems in urban areas. Surface runoff from roofs contain pollutants from dry and wet deposition, and green roofs offer a possibility to reduce the amounts of pollutants in the water discharged from roofs by degradation and filtering. These pollutants would otherwise enter wastewater treatments plants and ultimately end up in sewage sludge that is spread on agricultural soils. The most common substrates used in green roofs have limited capacity for filtration and sorption. Also, more sustainable alternatives are sought, due to the high carbon footprint of these materials. Biochar is a carbon-rich material produced by pyrolysis of biomass, and several types of biochar have been described as good sorbents and filter materials. Biochar is also a light and carbon negative material, which may fulfill other desired criteria for new green roof substrates. We here report on an experiment where two types of biochar, produced from olive husks at 450 °C or from forest waste at 850 ° C were mixed with volcanic rock or peat, and tested for retention capacity of phenanthrene and six heavy metals in a column experiment with unsaturated gravimetric water flow lasting for 3 weeks. The results suggest that biochar as a component in green roof substrates perform better than traditional materials, concerning retention of the tested pollutants, and that different types of biochar have different properties in this respect.