Characteristics and applications of biochar for remediating Cr(VI)-contaminated soils and wastewater

Shaopan Xia, Zhaoliang Song, Paramsothy Jeyakumar, Nanthi Bolan, Hailong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Web of Science)


Chromium (Cr) is a common environmental contaminant due to industrial processes and anthropogenic activities such as mining of chrome ore, electroplating, timber treatment, leather tanning, fertilizer and pesticide, etc. Cr exists mainly in both hexavalent [Cr(VI)] and trivalent [Cr(III)] form, being Cr(VI) with non-degradability and potential to be hidden, thereby affecting surrounding environment and being toxic to human health. Therefore, researches on remediation of Cr pollution in the environment have received much attention. Biochar is a low-cost adsorbent, which has been identified as a suitable material for Cr(VI) immobilization and removal from soil and wastewater. This review incorporates existing literature to provide a detailed examination into the (1) Cr chemistry, the source and current status of Cr pollution, and Cr toxicity and health; (2) feedstock and characterization of biochar; (3) processes and mechanisms of immobilization and removal of Cr by biochar, including oxidation–reduction, electrostatic interactions, complexation, ion exchange, and precipitation; (4) applications of biochar for Cr(VI) remediation and the modification of biochar to improve its performance; (5) factors affecting removal efficiency of Cr(VI) with respect to its physico-chemical conditions, including pH, temperature, initial concentration, reaction time, biochar characteristics, and coexisting contaminants. Finally, we identify current issues, challenges, and put forward recommendations as well as proposed directions for future research. This review provides a thorough understanding of using biochar as an emerging biomaterial adsorbent in Cr(VI)-contaminated soils and wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1543-1567
Number of pages25
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


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