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Research Project: Developing Technologies that Enable Growth and Profitability in the Commercial Conversion of Sugarcane, Sweet Sorghum, and Energy Beets into Sugar, Advanced Biofuels, and Bioproducts

Location: Commodity Utilization Research

Title: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds in biochar and biochar-amended soil: A review

item DUTTA, TANUSHREE - Hanyang University
item KWON, EILHANN - Sejong University
item BHATTACHARYA, SATYA - Tezpur University
item JEON, BYONG - Hanyang University
item DEEP, AKASH - Central Scientific Instruments Organization
item Uchimiya, Sophie
item KIM, KI-HYUN - Hanyang University

Submitted to: Global Change Biology Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/22/2016
Publication Date: 3/22/2016
Citation: Dutta, T., Kwon, E., Bhattacharya, S.S., Jeon, B.H., Deep, A., Uchimiya, M., Kim, K.-H. 2017. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds in biochar and biochar-amended soil: A review. GCB Bioenergy 9(6):990-1004.

Interpretive Summary: Reliable analytical methods are needed to quantify persistent organic pollutants in soils, especially those impacted by carbonaceous materials that are known geosorbents. In particular, separate procedures are needed to (i) measure the total pollutant content of soil for regulatory (usually sub-ppm for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) purposes, and (ii) understand the long-term environmental fate and impact of the pollutants. This review paper will examine the history of such efforts to make recommendations for the potential new methodologies.

Technical Abstract: Residual pollutants including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon(aceous) nanoparticles are inevitably generated during the pyrolysis of waste biomass, and remain on the solid co-product called biochar. Such pollutants could have adverse effects on the plant growth as well as microbial community in soil. Although biochar has been proposed as a ”carbon negative strategy” to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts of its application with respect to long-term persistence and bioavailability of hazardous components are not clear. Moreover, the co-occurrence of low molecular weight VOCs with PAHs in biochar can exert further phytotoxic effects. This review describes the basic need to unravel key mechanisms driving the storage versus emission of these organics and the dynamics between the sorbent (biochar) and soil microbes. Moreover, there is an urgent requirement for standardized methods for quantitative analysis of PAHs and VOCs in biochar under environmentally relevant conditions. Current research gap includes the influence of biochar application technology on the short- and long-term fate of PAHs and VOCs, long-term studies on PAHs/VOCs release, and for proper control of biochar quality and associated risk assessment.