Green immobilization of toxic metals using alkaline enhanced rice husk biochar: Effects of pyrolysis temperature and KOH concentration

Liuwei Wang, Nanthi S. Bolan, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Deyi Hou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Biochar is a “green” material that has been widely used in environmental applications for its capability to remove or immobilize contaminants in different environmental media (i.e. soil, water and air) and mitigate climate change. In this study, the feasibility of using KOH enhanced biochar for soil Cd and Pb stabilization was investigated, and the effects of pyrolysis temperature and alkaline concentrations for modification were explored. Field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), N2 adsorption-desorption, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analyses were conducted to reveal the influence on biochar physiochemical properties. The immobilization performances were examined through Toxicity Characteristics Leaching Procedure (TCLP), and Response Surface Methodology (RSM) was adopted to visualize the results from leaching tests. The stabilization mechanisms of alkaline enhanced biochars were investigated using Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (TOF-SIMS), Tessier sequential extraction method and X-ray diffraction (XRD) analyses. The results indicated that rice husk biochar pyrolyzed at a relatively low temperature (i.e., 300 °C) and activated by moderate alkaline concentrations (i.e., 1 M or 3 M KOH) rendered optimum stabilization performance. KOH activation was a double-edged sword, with high alkaline concentrations destroying biochar's cell structures. Moreover, the integration of TOF-SIMS, XRD and sequential leaching method shed lights on the underlying mechanisms involved in metal stabilization. Surface complexation between toxic metals and oxygen-containing functional groups rather than liming or precipitation was proven to be the fundamental stabilization mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137584
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Green immobilization of toxic metals using alkaline enhanced rice husk biochar: Effects of pyrolysis temperature and KOH concentration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this