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Low-temperature-steam activation of phosphorus in biochar derived from enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) sludge

Qian, Tingting, Wang, Li, Le, Chencheng, Zhou, Yan
Water research 2019 v.161 pp. 202-210
adsorption, biochar, calcium, environmental factors, ionic strength, pH, phosphorus, phosphorus fertilizers, pyrophosphates, sludge, soil, temperature
The property and release behavior of phosphorus in biochar derived from enhanced biological phosphorus removal sludge (EBPR sludge) were investigated. A low-temperature-steam (LTS) activation method was developed to increase the P availability in the biochar. The results demonstrate that the P content in the biochar is comparable to that in typical P fertilizers. The biochar contained a considerable portion of fast-release P. Polyphosphates (poly-P) were the predominant P species in the biochar. LTS greatly improved P availability in biochar produced at 700 °C by hydrolyzing insoluble poly-P to soluble pyro-P and ortho-P. In addition, the presence of Ca2+ could greatly reduce the P-release from biochar produced at lower temperature, e.g. 400 °C, due to that Ca2+ could facilitate the precipitation/adsorption of orthophosohates/pyrophosphates released from the low temperature biochars. Such phenomena was not observed with high temperature biochar, as the soluble poly-P released from 700 °C biochar could complex with Ca2+ rather than precipitated with it. Other environmental conditions, i.e., environmental pH, ionic strength of the soil porewater, and presence of low-molecular-weight acid, only had minor or negligible effects on the P-release of most studied biochars. This study concludes that LTS-activated-700 °C biochar could be a promising P fertilizer given its high, rapid, and unaffected P-release under various environmentally relevant conditions.