Biochar and new materials for water and soil remediation


Evaluation of different forms of black carbon amendment to reduce contaminants bioavailability and toxicity and to improve soil quality

and plant production (BCAMEND) (PSPB-135/2010)

Studies on mobility, bioavailability and toxicity of organic and inorganic contaminants during sewage sludge

and biochar land use (NCN Sonata BIS) (2012/07/E/ST10/00572) (PI: Patryk Oleszczuk)

The objective of the research conducted within the scope of the project is the understanding of the interactions and mechanisms responsible for effects of organic and inorganic contaminants in the systems sewage sludge-biochar and sewage sludge-biochar-soil. Elucidation of those mechanisms will lead to the acquisition of new knowledge and expansion of existing knowledge in the area of interactions of organic and inorganic contaminants with various environmental matrices and of their effect on living organisms. The application of the latest chemical and biological methods in the research, in conjunction with the interdisciplinary character of the research, will permit the acquisition of new and valuable information expanding the knowledge on the effect of man on the surrounding environment. Apart from the identification of the mechanisms responsible for the above processes, another objective of the research will be the estimation of risk related with the utilisation of the materials studied.

The research will be realized into tasks related with the character of the analyses performed. Within the framework of laboratory experiments constituting the first stage it is planned to conduct a series of experiments and analyses related with the study of the properties of biochars, and of their effect on the reduction of toxicity and bioavailability of organic and inorganic contaminants occurring in sewage sludge. In the second stage of the project plot experiments will be performed, the objective of which will be the determination of the persistence of the compounds studied in soils amended with sewage sludge and biochar, the bioavailability determined with chemical methods, and the accumulation of the contaminants in plants and earthworms. Moreover, for the purpose of estimation of environmental risk, it is also planned to determine the migration of the contaminants into the depth of the soil profile and their effect on living organisms.

Studies undertaken for the purpose of environmental protection and reduction of the negative effect of man on the environment are a highly important problem in the efforts towards the maintenance of sustainable development. In this respect, the presence of contaminants and their effect on organisms is an extremely important element. Understanding of the mechanisms responsible for those processes will permit an expansion of the existing knowledge and identification of the range of the accompanying threats. This may bring in the future new solutions ensuring safe use of the environment. The research undertaken within the scope of the project is not only aimed at acquiring knowledge of those mechanisms, but also – through the addition of biochar – opens up a whole new area of research that so far has not been addressed by various research groups, namely the effect of biochar on the content of contaminants and on the toxicity of soils amended with sewage sludge. In addition, the understanding of the chemical and physical properties of biochar, causing positive or negative responses of organisms, and the relation of that with chemical analyses, will contribute to an increase of ecologically responsible production and to the utilisation of biochar. Undertaking these research problems within the nearest future may make Poland a leading centre in this type of research in the World.

It is also worth emphasising that the results obtained within the scope of the project will provide comprehensive information on the threats related with the utilisation of sewage sludge and biochar in the context of endocrine disrupting compounds and will indicate the directions of counteracting negative phenomena in this range.

Selected references:

  1. (1)Oleszczuk P., Zielińska A., Cornelissen G. Stabilization of sewage sludge by different biochars towards reducing freely dissolved polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) content. Bioresour. Technol. 156 (2014) 139–145.

  2. (2)Stefaniuk M., Oleszczuk P. An addition of biochar to sewage sludge decreases freely dissolved PAHs content and toxicity of sewage sludge-amended soil. Environ. Pollut. 218 (2016) 242–251.

  3. (3)Różyło K., Świeca M., Gawlik-Dziki U., Stefaniuk M., Oleszczuk P. The potential of biochar for reducing the negative effects of soil contamination on the phytochemical properties and heavy metal accumulation in wheat grain. Agric. Food Sci. 26 (2017) 34-46.

  4. (4)Stefaniuk M., Oleszczuk P., Różyło K. Co-application of biochar with sewage sludge decrease persistence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in amended soil during long term field experiment. Sci. Total Environ. 599–600 (2017) 854–862.

  5. (5)Stefaniuk M., Oleszczuk P. Application of biochar to sewage sludge reduces toxicity and improve organisms growth in sewage sludge-amended soil in long term field experiment. Sci. Total Environ. (accepted).

  6. (6)Bogusz A., Oleszczuk P., Dobrowolski R. Adsorption and desorption of heavy metals in the soil amendment by the sewage sludge after addition of the biochar. Environ. Geochem. Heal. (accepted).

  7. (7)Tytłak A., Oleszczuk P., Dobrowolski R. Sorption and desorption of Cr(VI) ions from water by biochars in different environmental conditions. Environ. Sci. Poll. Res. 22 (2015) 5985–5994.

  8. (8)Bogusz A., Oleszczuk P., Dobrowolski R. Application of laboratory prepared and commercially available biochars to adsorption of cadmium, copper and zinc ions from water. Bioresour. Technol. 196 (2015) 540–549.

  9. (9)Bogusz A., Nowak K., Stefaniuk M., Dobrowolski R., Oleszczuk P. Synthesis of biochar from residues after biogas production with respect to cadmium and nickel removal from wastewater. J. Environ. Manage. 201 (2017) 268-276.

The results provided valuable information about effectiveness of carbon adsorbents as a tool to decrease ecotoxicity and increase the immobilization of bioavailable fraction of PAHs from industrially contaminated soils. Addition of active carbon caused significant decrease of bioavailable PAHs fraction, even in case of the lowest dose of 0.5 (% w/w). Similar effects was observed in case of the biochar amendment. Nevertheless, higher effectiveness was observed after addition of high doses of biochars. Additionally, the influence of active carbon and biochars on the ecotoxicity was not regular. The ecotoxicity was depended on type of the soil, adsorbent used and tested organism. The biochars after the activation process were characterized by much higher surface area and more developed pore structure. The activated biochars amendment to soils caused significant reduction of bioavailable and bioaccessible PAHs in all investigated soils. Nevertheless, as in the case of initial biochars, the effectiveness of activated ones depended mostly on the soils properties. The activated biochars amendment had also an influence on the ecotoxicity changes of soils. Addition of activated biochars, mostly reduced the ecotoxicity in soils but similarly as in the case of initial biochars no clear trends between ecotoxicity and PAHs concentrations were observed. Co-application of biochar with nano-zero valent iron, showed that main mechanism responsible for PAHs immobilization in soils was binding them on the biochar surface rather than degradation by nano-zero valent iron. No positive influence of nano-zero valent iron on decrease of bioavailable PAHs concentration was observed. Moreover, amendment of nano-zero valent iron alone caused an increase of ecotoxicity due to Vibrio fisheri. Nevertheless, after co- application of nano-zero valent iron with biochar no toxic effects were observed.

The effectiveness of soil remediation by carbon adsorbents depended on the factors like soil properties, kind of the contaminant and dose or type of adsorbent. Nevertheless, obtained results confirmed the high effectiveness of bioavailable PAHs immobilization after the carbon adsorbents addition to contaminated soils. This observation confirmed that carbon adsorbents have got huge potential to become common use tool in the remediation of soils contaminated by organic pollutants.

Heavy industry like coke plants and bitumen processing plants are one of the main source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the environment. These compounds may become present in soils and be harmful to the living organisms, because of mutagenic, cancerogenic and toxic character. Nevertheless, only bioavailable and bioaccessible fraction of these contaminants may cause real threat, because of the fact that only this fractions can be easily uptake by the organisms. Due to this observation, it is necessary to develop an effective tool for the contaminated soils remediation, which will minimalize the presence of bioavailable Nowadays, carbon adsorbents become perspective tool in contest of soil remediation contaminated by organic pollutants. These adsorbents are characterized by highly developed surface area, which is able to immobilizing contaminants present in soil. In the result, the carbon adsorbents were used as an amendment to industrially contaminated soils from coke plant and bitumen processing plant in order to immobilize PAHs on their surface. To perform the experiments, active carbon and biochars produced from different biomass were chose as an carbon adsorbents. To increase the effectiveness of PAHs immobilization by biochars, which are characterized by lower surface area than active carbon, these adsorbents was activated by superheated steam, carbon dioxide and microwaves. The aim of these modifications was to develop the pore structure and surface area, in which PAHs can be immobilized. Moreover, the attempt of co-application of nano-zero valent iron and biochar to decrease the total and freely dissolved polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and toxicity of contaminated soils was performed. In order to check the effectiveness of used adsorbents the PAHs analysis were extended by different ecotoxicological bioassays using different living organisms like plants - Lepidium sativum, springtails - Folsomia candida and bacteria - Vibrio fischeri. contaminants in these soils.

Selected references:

  1. (1)Kołtowski M., Oleszczuk P. Effect of activated carbon or biochars on toxicity of different soils contaminated by mixture of native polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 35 (2016) 1321–1328.

  2. (2)Kołtowski M., Hilber I., Bucheli T.D., Oleszczuk P. Effect of activated carbon and biochars on PAHs bioavailability in historically contaminated soils. Environ. Sci. Poll. Res. 23 (2016) 11058-11068.

  3. (3)Kołtowski M., Hilber I., Bucheli T.D., Oleszczuk P. Effect of steam activated biochar application to industrially contaminated soils on bioavailability of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and ecotoxicity of soils. Sci. Total Environ. 566–567 (2016) 1023–1031.

  4. (4)Kraska K., Oleszczuk P., Andruszczak S., Kwiecińska-Poppe E., Różyło K., Pałys E., Gierasimiuk, Z. Michałojć Z. Effect of various biochar rates on winter rye yield and the concentration of available nutrients in the soil. Plant Soil Environ. 62 (2016) 483–489.

  5. (5)Kołtowski M., Charmas B., Skubiszewska-Zięba J., Oleszczuk P. Effect of biochar activation by different methods on toxicity of soil contaminated by industrial activity. Ecotox. Environ. Safe. 136 (2017) 119–125.

  6. (6)Kołtowski M., Hilber I., Bucheli T.D., Skubiszewska-Zieba J., Charmas B., Oleszczuk P. Activated biochars reduce the exposure of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in industrially contaminated soils. Chem. Eng. J. 310 (2017) 33-40.

  7. (7)Oleszczuk P., Kołtowski M. Effect of co-application of nano-zero valent iron and biochar on the total and freely dissolved polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) content and toxicity of PAHs contaminated soils. Chemosphere 168 (2017) 1467–1476.

  8. (8)Skubiszewska-Zieba J., Charmas B., Kołtowski M., Oleszczuk P. Active carbons from waste biochars. J. Therm. Anal. Calorim 130 (2017) 15–24.

  9. (9)Oleszczuk P., Godlewska P., Reible D., Kraska P. Bioaccessiblity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in activated carbon or biochar amended-contaminated soil. Environ. Pollut. 227 (2017) 406–413.