Chemical stabilization of Cd-contaminated soil using fresh and aged wheat straw biochar

Dilani Rathnayake*, Filipe Rego, Reinhart Van Poucke, Anthony V. Bridgwater, Ondřej Mašek, Erik Meers, Jiawei Wang, Yang Yang, Frederik Ronsse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Metal mining and smelting activities can introduce a substantial amount of potentially toxic elements (PTE) into the environment that can persist for an extended period. That can limit the productivity of the land and creates dangerous effects on ecosystem services. The effectiveness of wheat straw biochar to immobilize Cd in contaminated soil due to metal smelting activities was investigated in this study. The biochar carbon stability and long-term provisioning of services depend on the biochar production conditions, nature of the feedstock, and the biotic and abiotic environmental conditions in which the biochar is being used. Within this context, three types of wheat straw biochar were produced using a screw reactor at 400 °C, 500 °C, and 600 °C and tested in a laboratory incubation study. Soil was amended with 2 wt% of biochar. Both fresh and aged forms of biochar were used. Biochars produced at lower temperatures were characterized by lower pH, a lower amount of stable C, and higher amounts of acidic surface functional groups than the freshly produced biochars at higher production temperatures. At the end of the 6 months of incubation time, compared to the soil only treatment, fresh and aged forms of wheat straw biochar produced at 600 °C reduced the Cd concentration in soil pore water by 22% and 15%, respectively. Our results showed that the aged forms of biochar produced at higher production temperatures (500 °C and 600 °C) immobilized Cd more efficiently than the aged forms of lower temperature biochar (400 °C). The findings of this study provide insights to choose the production parameters in wheat straw biochar production while considering their aging effect to achieve successful stabilization of Cd in contaminated soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10155–10166
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number8
Early online date9 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

© Springer Nature B.V. 2020. The final publication is available at Springer via


  • Accelerated aging
  • Biochar stability
  • Cd contaminated soil
  • Soil remediation
  • Wheat straw biochar


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