The different faces of Biochar: contamination risk versus remediation tool

    Isabel Hilber Affiliation
    ; Ana Catarina Bastos Affiliation
    ; Susana Loureiro Affiliation
    ; Gerhard Soja Affiliation
    ; Aleksandra Marsz Affiliation
    ; Gerard Cornelissen Affiliation
    ; Thomas D. Bucheli Affiliation


This article reviews the different aspects of biochar as source and sink of organic and inorganic contaminants. Biochar can contain organic contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or heavy metals. As the distribution coefficients of the biochar especially for contaminants are high, the freely dissolved concentrations are low and with that also the bioavailability. The link between biochar’s inherent contaminants and toxicity to soil meso– and macro–fauna remains unclear, with data being often contradictory and influenced by feedstock and pyrolysis conditions. The biochar’s potential to remediate contaminated soils has mainly been addressed in lab studies, but rarely in the field. This far, results have been contradicting. Many studies reported successful immobilization of contaminants but some not. In summary, the ambivalent face of the biochar with regard to contaminants prevails. In future, long term field studies are needed to properly address the sustainability of biochar in this respect.

First published online: 02 Feb 2017

Keyword : biochar inherent organic and inorganic contaminants, bioavailability, bioaccessibility, ecotoxicity, environ- mental risks

How to Cite
Hilber, I., Bastos, A. C., Loureiro, S., Soja, G., Marsz, A., Cornelissen, G., & Bucheli, T. D. (2017). The different faces of Biochar: contamination risk versus remediation tool. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Landscape Management, 25(2), 86-104.
Published in Issue
Jun 28, 2017
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