Journal Articles

Effect of biochars produced from solid organic municipal waste on soil quality parameters

February 16, 2017

P. Randolph, R.R. Bansode, O.A. Hassan, Dj. Rehrah, R. Ravella, M.R. Reddy, D.W. Watts, J.M. Novak, M. Ahmedna (2017). Effect of biochars produced from solid organic municipal waste on soil quality parameters. Journal of Environmental Management 192(271-280).

Author Affiliations

Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina Research Campus, Kannapolis, NC, 28081, USA
College of Health Sciences, Qatar University, P.O. Box 2713, Doha, Qatar
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, NC, 27411, USA
USDA-ARS, Coastal Plains Research Center, 2611 West Lucas Street, Florence, SC, 29501, USA

Abstract

New value-added uses for solid municipal waste are needed for environmental and economic sustainability. Fortunately, value-added biochars can be produced from mixed solid waste, thereby addressing solid waste management issues, and enabling long-term carbon sequestration. We hypothesize that soil deficiencies can be remedied by the application of municipal waste-based biochars. Select municipal organic wastes (newspaper, cardboard, woodchips and landscaping residues) individually or in a 25% blend of all four waste streams were used as feedstocks of biochars. Three sets of pyrolysis temperatures (350, 500, and 750 °C) and 3 sets of pyrolysis residence time (2, 4 and 6 h) were used for biochar preparation.

The biochar yield was in the range of 21–62% across all feedstocks and pyrolysis conditions. We observed variations in key biochar properties such as pH, electrical conductivity, bulk density and surface area depending on the feedstocks and production conditions. Biochar increased soil pH and improved its electrical conductivity, aggregate stability, water retention and micronutrient contents. Similarly, leachate from the soil amended with biochar showed increased pH and electrical conductivity. Some elements such as Ca and Mg decreased while NO3-N increased in the leachates of soils incubated with biochars. Overall, solid waste-based biochar produced significant improvements to soil fertility parameters indicating that solid municipal wastes hold promising potential as feedstocks for manufacturing value-added biochars with varied physicochemical characteristics, allowing them to not only serve the needs for solid waste management and greenhouse gas mitigation, but also as a resource for improving the quality of depleted soils.

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