Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 20, pp 16560–16577 | Cite as

Role of biochar on composting of organic wastes and remediation of contaminated soils—a review

  • Shaohua Wu
  • Huijun He
  • Xayanto Inthapanya
  • Chunping Yang
  • Li Lu
  • Guangming Zeng
  • Zhenfeng Han
Review Article


Biochar is produced by pyrolysis of biomass residues under limited oxygen conditions. In recent years, biochar as an amendment has received increasing attention on composting and soil remediation, due to its unique properties such as chemical recalcitrance, high porosity and sorption capacity, and large surface area. This paper provides an overview on the impact of biochar on the chemical characteristics (greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen loss, decomposition and humification of organic matter) and microbial community structure during composting of organic wastes. This review also discusses the use of biochar for remediation of soils contaminated with organic pollutants and heavy metals as well as related mechanisms. Besides its aging, the effects of biochar on the environment fate and efficacy of pesticides deserve special attention. Moreover, the combined application of biochar and compost affects synergistically on soil remediation and plant growth. Future research needs are identified to ensure a wide application of biochar in composting and soil remediation.

Graphical abstract


Biochar Composting Soil Remediation Heavy metal Organic pollutant 



This work was supported by the International S&T Cooperation Program of China (Project Contract No. 2015DFG92750) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51478172, 51278464, and 51521006).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringHunan UniversityChangshaPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Environmental Biology and Pollution Control (Hunan University), Ministry of EducationChangshaPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Solid Waste Treatment and Recycling, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringZhejiang Gongshang UniversityZhejiangPeople’s Republic of China

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