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Effect of biochar on the fate of volatile petroleum hydrocarbons in an aerobic sandy soil

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David WernerORCiD


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Biochar addition to soil is currently being investigated as a novel technology to remediate polluted sites. A critical consideration is the impact of biochar on the intrinsic microbial pollutant degradation, in particular at sites polluted with a mixture of readily biodegradable and more persistent organic pollutants. We therefore studied the impact of biochar (2% on dry weight basis) on the fate of volatile petroleum hydrocarbons in an aerobic sandy soil with batch and column studies. The soil-water partitioning coefficient. K-d, was enhanced in the biochar-amended soil up to a factor 36, and petroleum hydrocarbon vapor migration was retarded accordingly. Despite increased sorption, in particular of monoaromatic hydrocarbons, the overall microbial respiration was comparable in the biochar-amended and unamended soil. This was due to more rapid biodegradation of linear, cyclic and branched alkanes in the biochar amended soil. We concluded that the total petroleum hydrocarbon degradation rate was controlled by a factor other than substrate availability and the reduced availability of monoaromatic hydrocarbons in the biochar amended soil led to greater biodegradation of the other petroleum compounds. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bushnaf KM, Puricelli S, Saponaro S, Werner D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology

Year: 2011

Volume: 126

Issue: 3-4

Pages: 208-215

Print publication date: 07/09/2011

ISSN (print): 0169-7722

ISSN (electronic): 1873-6009

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2011.08.008


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