Simultaneous immobilization of heavy metals in soil environment by pulp and paper derived nanoporous biochars

  • Hoda Arabyarmohammadi
  • Ahmad Khodadadi DarbanEmail author
  • Mahmoud Abdollahy
  • Bita Ayati
Research Article



Biochars are the new generation of sustainable soil amendments which may be applied both to fertilize and remediate the impacted soils. The aim of current research has been synthesis and characterization of pulp and paper-derived biochars and determination of their mechanisms in simultaneous immobilization of heavy metals (Cu2+, Pb2+, and Zn2+) within contaminated soil. In a novel attempt, three different solid wastes of Mazandaran Wood and Paper Industries (barks and effluent sludge) were utilized to produce biochars.


The thermogravimetric behavior of the three selected biomasses were initially analyzed and the proper pyrolysis condition has been determined, accordingly. Alterations in surface active groups, before and after the pyrolysis process, have been detected by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Elemental analysis and acid digestion procedure have been employed to measure C, H, N, S, O, and P contents of the biochars. Moreover, porosity and morphological characteristics have been monitored by Brauner-Emmet-Teller (BET) porosimetry and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Batch adsorption tests have been designed and carried out. Finally, a set of soil sequential extraction experiments was performed over both amended/unamended soils which together with a post-sorption FTIR analysis, explained the possible competitive immobilization mechanism.


Porosimetry study indicated the nanoporosity of the chars and the distribution pattern of adsorbed metals over the char samples. Batch sorption tests suggested remarkable uptake capacity for each char. The results of post sorption tests suggested that Cu is mainly involved in organic bonds of -NH2, -OH and -COOH groups, Pb forms insoluble hydroxide, phosphate or carbonate precipitates, and Zn is mostly engaged in the residual fraction.


Accordingly, the bulky wastes are confirmed to have the potential to form sustainable biochar soil amendments.


Biochar Heavy metals Immobilization Pulp and paper Soil 



atomic Absorption Spectrometry







The authors would like to express their sincere thanks to Mazandaran Wood and Paper industries for their kind cooperation in supply of feedstock materials during this project.

Authors’ contributions

HA was the main investigator, prepared the samples and performed the analyses, AKD supervised the study. MA and BA were the advisors to the study. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


The research was financially supported by Iran National Science Foundation (INSF), Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), Iran Mineral Processing Research Center (IMPRC), and Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC).

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hoda Arabyarmohammadi
    • 1
  • Ahmad Khodadadi Darban
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mahmoud Abdollahy
    • 2
  • Bita Ayati
    • 2
  1. 1.Mineral Processing Group, Mining Engineering DepartmentTarbiat Modares UniversityTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringTarbiat Modares UniversityTehranIran

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