Biochar from Different Carbonaceous Waste Materials: Ecotoxicity and Effectiveness in the Sorption of Metal(loid)s

  • Mariano SimónEmail author
  • Inés García
  • María Diez-Ortiz
  • Verónica González


In this study, biochar produced by pyrolysis of urban pruning wood (Bpw) and sewage sludge (Bss) were characterized and investigated as adsorbents for the removal of Cu(II), Pb(II), Zn(II), and As(V) from contaminated solutions. Both types of biochars showed different physical-chemical properties and metal(loid) content. In Bss, Cu, Zn, and Pb concentrations exceeded the upper limit of the common ranges in soils. However, when they were tested for their effect on soil invertebrates, neither of the biochar was expected to exert negative effects as long as the dose applied as an amendment was ≤ 4.8 t ha−1. For an assessment of the effectiveness of biochar in the immobilization of metal(loid)s, three contaminated solutions with acidic pH and different pollutant concentrations were added to both types of biochar. Precipitation as oxy-hydroxides and the formation of complexes with active functional groups of the organic matter were the main mechanisms of metal(loid) fixation by the biochar, with increased precipitation and a rising pH. Both types of biochar were effective at immobilizing Pb and Cu, while Zn showed less effectiveness in this regard and As the least. The high P content of the biochar from sewage sludge favored Pb fixation, presumably forming complexes with phosphates, while competition between phosphate and arsenate ions decreased As adsorption by Fe compounds. The metal(loid)s immobilized by biochar from urban pruning wood were more bioavailable than those fixed by biochar from sewage sludge.


Organic waste Biochar Amendment Risk assessment Pollutant immobilization 


Funding information

This study was supported by the Economy and Competitiveness Ministry of Spain and the European Regional Development Fund (Project CGL2013-49009-C3, subprojects CGL2013-49009-C3-2-R and CGL2013-49009-C3-3-R).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Agronomía, Área de Ciencia del Suelo, Campus de Excelencia Internacional Agroalimentario ceiA3Universidad de Almería CITE IIBAlmeríaSpain
  2. 2.LEITAT Technological CenterBarcelonaSpain

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