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Phytoextraction of Cd from a contaminated soil by tobacco and safe use of its metal-enriched biomass

Yang, Yang, Ge, Yichen, Tu, Pengfei, Zeng, Hongyuan, Zhou, Xihong, Zou, Dongsheng, Wang, Kelin, Zeng, Qingru
Journal of hazardous materials 2019 v.363 pp. 385-393
Nicotiana tabacum, biochar, biomass, cadmium, ethanol, feeds, hydrochloric acid, leaves, nicotine, nutrients, pH, phytoaccumulation, polluted soils, pollution, potassium hydroxide, protein content, pyrolysis, renewable resources, steam distillation, stems, tobacco
Successful phytoextraction produces a large quantity of contaminated biomass, which will cause secondary pollution unless properly treated. This study investigated the disposal of contaminated tobacco biomass after phytoextraction. We detected significantly high Cadmium concentrations in tobacco, especially in their stems and leaves. From the latter, nearly all the Cd and nicotine were removed by extractions with 0.5% HCl + 70% ethanol, and the nicotine completely recovered via steam distillation, whereas the protein content remained unaffected in the leaves, thus making them safe for use as animal feed. The highest biochar yield was 47%, obtained after slow pyrolysis at 300 °C. In this case, the biochar contained the highest amount of nutrients and metals. From stem biochar, 87% of Cd and a large amount K along with several other elements were extracted by deionized water at pH 1. After acid-extraction, metals were formed precipitation and then separated from the K-enriched solution when the pH was adjusted to 11 by using drops of 40% KOH. Therefore, with improved technology to remove metals and recover nutrients and nicotine from biomass, tobacco is an ideal candidate as profit yielding crop for use in phytoextraction while also providing renewable resources.