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Quantitative characterization of pore structure of several biochars with 3D imaging

Abstract

Pore space characteristics of biochars may vary depending on the used raw material and processing technology. Pore structure has significant effects on the water retention properties of biochar amended soils. In this work, several biochars were characterized with three-dimensional imaging and image analysis. X-ray computed microtomography was used to image biochars at resolution of 1.14 μm and the obtained images were analysed for porosity, pore size distribution, specific surface area and structural anisotropy. In addition, random walk simulations were used to relate structural anisotropy to diffusive transport. Image analysis showed that considerable part of the biochar volume consist of pores in size range relevant to hydrological processes and storage of plant available water. Porosity and pore size distribution were found to depend on the biochar type and the structural anisotopy analysis showed that used raw material considerably affects the pore characteristics at micrometre scale. Therefore, attention should be paid to raw material selection and quality in applications requiring optimized pore structure.

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Acknowledgements

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 637020 – MOBILE FLIP.

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Correspondence to Jari Hyväluoma.

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Responsible Editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Hyväluoma, J., Kulju, S., Hannula, M. et al. Quantitative characterization of pore structure of several biochars with 3D imaging. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 25648–25658 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-8823-x

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Keywords

  • Biochar
  • Soil amendment
  • Pore structure
  • Water retention
  • X-ray tomography
  • Image analysis