Submitted to: American Chemical Society Symposium Series
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/23/2013
Publication Date: 9/25/2013
Citation: Peterson, S.C., Jackson, M.A., Appell, M. 2013. Biochar: sustainable and versatile. In: Park, B., Appell, M., editors. Advances in Applied Nanotechnology for Agriculture. New York, NY: American Chemical Society Symposium Series. p. 193-205.
Interpretive Summary: Biochar is charcoal that is made from any biological material that contains carbon; including (but not limited to) plants, agricultural waste, and forestry waste. This book chapter is a brief summary describing how biochar is a natural, renewable material that contains a very fine structure containing pores and/or channels that range from the nanometer to the micrometer scale. Because of this it has a very large surface area, which makes it useful in several applications including carbon sequestration (long term storage of carbon dioxide in the ground, thus keeping it out of the atmosphere), filtering applications including removing contaminants from water, soil, agricultural, or industrial processes.
Technical Abstract: Biochar is a term that describes any charcoal that comes from biomass. It is a renewable, microporous carbon-rich product that also contains nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and ash. Several varieties of biochar are very porous with irregular surface area. The pore size and distribution of a given biochar can affect its utility, and controlling the highest treatment temperature during the pyrolysis process is the most common way to affect this. Chemical and physical activation methods are another means to change the pore size and/or distribution. Biochar is produced from a very wide range of agricultural and wood-based waste streams and applications of biochar include carbon sequestration, soil enhancer, and sorbents for several classes of undesirable components from water, soil, or industrial products. Additionally, recent research has shown potential in using biochar with high pore volume concentration as filler for rubber composites.