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Application potential of biochar in environment: Insight from degradation of biochar-derived DOM and complexation of DOM with heavy metals

Huang, Mei, Li, Zhongwu, Luo, Ninglin, Yang, Ren, Wen, Jiajun, Huang, Bin, Zeng, Guangming
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.646 pp. 220-228
biochar, cadmium, chemometrics, copper, dissolved organic matter, factor analysis, fluorescence, fluorescent substances, heavy metals, hydrophobicity, moieties, polluted soils, polysaccharides, risk, soil remediation, spectroscopy, titration
Biochar-derived dissolved organic matter (DOM) is important for determining the application potential of biochar in soil remediation. However, little is known about the degradation behavior of biochar-derived DOM and its interaction with heavy metals. Here, incubation experiments combined with quenching titration experiments, which analyzed by spectroscopic technology and chemometric method, were conducted to reveal such behaviors and mechanisms. Ultraviolet–visible (UV–Vis) spectra showed that high aromatic and hydrophobic fractions were enriched in biochar-derived DOM and enhanced during the cultivation process, thus the biochar-derived DOM may retain a high aromaticity, stability, and resistance. However, the environmental risk of Cu caused by the increase of DOM hydrophobicity cannot be overlooked while applying biochar to polluted soil. One fulvic-like (C1), one protein-like (C2) and two humic-like (C3, C4) substances were identified from biochar-derived DOM by using parallel factor analysis of excitation-emission matrix. Additionally, the fluorescence intensity variations of these components in DOM offered an additional interpretation for the observations from UV–Vis spectra. Two-dimensional correlation spectroscopy revealed that Cd binding to biochar-derived DOM first occurred in the protein- and fulvic-like fraction while protein- and humic-like substances had a stronger affinity for Cu. Furthermore, both phenolic and carboxyl groups firstly participated in the binding process of Cd with biochar-derived DOM, while polysaccharide gave the fastest response to Cu binding. These results clearly demonstrated the differences in specific heavy metal binding features of individual fluorescent substances and functional groups in biochar-derived DOM and contribute to improving the application effect of biochar in a multi-heavy metal polluted soil system.