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Biochar aging: Impact of pyrolysis temperature on sediment carbon pools and the availability of arsenic and lead

Matheus B. Soares, Carlos E.P. Cerri, José A.M. Demattê, Luís R.F. Alleoni
Science of the total environment 2022 v.807 pp. 151001
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, adsorbents, arsenic, biochar, environment, feedstocks, fractionation, humans, lead, multivariate analysis, organic carbon, polysaccharides, principal component analysis, pyrolysis, sediments, straw, sugarcane, temperature, toxicity, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy
Arsenic (As) and lead (Pb) are potentially toxic elements capable of developing several diseases in human beings such as cancer. Several adsorbent materials, including biochars, have been adopted as alternative measures designed to reduce the availability of As and Pb in water. The retention capacity of potentially toxic elements in biochars varies according to time, feedstock, and the pyrolysis temperature to produce the biochar. Our objectives in this study were to evaluate i) the aging effect of sugarcane straw pyrolyzed biochars at 350 (BC350), 550 (BC550), and 750 °C (BC750) and their ability to immobilize As and Pb; and ii) how the pyrolysis temperature and biochar aging alter the carbon content and quality of the solution and sediment. Biochars were applied at 5% (w/w), and their aging together with As and Pb immobilization effects were evaluated every 45 days over a total period of 180 days. The results were obtained using visible ultraviolet spectroscopy and diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy combined with physical fractionation of organic matter and multivariate statistics. The groups formed in the Principal Component Analysis indicated that the change in the availability of As and Pb was related to the aging of the biochar and the temporal changes in the content and quality of organic carbon in the sediment and solution. The pyrolysis temperature was a key factor in the (im)mobilization capacity of As and Pb during the aging of the biochar. The increase in polysaccharides and organic matter associated with the particulate fraction can enhance the release of As in solution (24%). Increasing the fraction of organic matter associated with minerals reduced the availability of Pb by 58%. These findings may provide new insights into understanding the dynamics of organic matter and its role in the immobilization of As and Pb during biochar aging.