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Transport of biochar colloids in saturated porous media in the presence of humic substances or proteins

Yang, Wen, Bradford, Scott A., Wang, Yang, Sharma, Prabhakar, Shang, Jianying, Li, Baoguo
Environmental pollution 2019 v.246 pp. 855-863
adsorption, biochar, colloids, cytochrome c, electrostatic interactions, fulvic acids, pH, porous media, salt concentration, sand, serum albumin, surface roughness
Application of biochar in the field has received considerable attention in recent years, but there is still little known about the fate and transport of biochar colloids (BCs) in the subsurface. Natural organic matter (NOM), which mainly consists of humic substance (HS) and proteins, is ubiquitous in the natural environment and its dissolved fraction is active and mobile. In this study, the transport of BCs in saturated porous media has been examined in the presence of two HS (humic and fulvic acids) and two proteins. Bull serum albumin (BSA) and Cytochrome c (Cyt) were selected to present the negatively and positively charged protein, respectively. At low and high salt concentration and different pH conditions, the transport of BCs was strongly promoted by HS. HS significantly increased the mobility of BCs in porous media under both low and high salt conditions due to the enhanced electrostatic repulsion and modification of surface roughness and charge heterogeneity. While BC mobility in porous media was suppressed by both BSA and Cyt in the low salt solution, the presence of BSA largely promoted and Cyt slightly enhanced the transport of BCs in high salt solutions. BSA and Cyt adsorption onto BC surface decreased the negative charge of BC and resulted in a less repulsive interaction in low salt solutions. In high salt solutions, the adsorbed BSA layers disaggregated BCs and reduced the strength of the interaction between BC and the sand. Adsorbed Cyt on BCs caused more attractive patches between BC and sand surface, and greater retention than BSA.