Recent advances in biochar engineering for soil contaminated with complex chemical mixtures: Remediation strategies and future perspectives

Jerry Anae, Nafees Ahmad, Vinod Kumar, Vijay Kumar Thakur, Tony Gutierrez, Xiao Jin Yang, Chao Cai, Zhugen Yang, Frederic Coulon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)
113 Downloads (Pure)


Heavy metal/metalloids (HMs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil have caused serious environmental problems, compromised agriculture quality, and have detrimental effects on all forms of life including humans. There is a need to develop appropriate and effective remediation methods to resolve combined contaminated problems. Although conventional technologies exist to tackle contaminated soils, application of biochar as an effective renewable adsorbent for enhanced bioremediation is considered by many scientific researchers as a promising strategy to mitigate HM/PAH co-contaminated soils. This review aims to: (i) provide an overview of biochar preparation and its application, and (ii) critically discuss and examine the prospects of (bio)engineered biochar for enhancing HMs/PAHs co-remediation efficacy by reducing their mobility and bioavailability. The adsorption effectiveness of a biochar largely depends on the type of biomass material, carbonisation method and pyrolysis conditions. Biochar induced soil immobilise and remove metal ions via various mechanisms including electrostatic attractions, ion exchange, complexation and precipitation. PAHs remediation mechanisms are achieved via pore filling, hydrophobic effect, electrostatic attraction, hydrogen bond and partitioning. During last decade, biochar engineering (modification) via biological and chemical approaches to enhance contaminant removal efficiency has garnered greater interests. Hence, the development and application of (bio)engineered biochars in risk management, contaminant management associated with HM/PAH co-contaminated soil. In terms of (bio)engineered biochar, we review the prospects of amalgamating biochar with hydrogel, digestate and bioaugmentation to produce biochar composites.
Original languageEnglish
Article number144351
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date29 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • (Bio)engineering
  • Bioaugmentation
  • Biochar
  • Contaminated soil
  • Digestate
  • Hydrogel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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