Endogenous minerals have influences on surface electrochemistry and ion exchange properties of biochar

Ling Zhao, Xinde Cao, Wei Zheng, Qun Wang, Fan Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The feedstocks for biochar production are diverse and many of them contain various minerals in addition to being rich in carbon. Twelve types of biomass classified into 2 categories: Plant-based and municipal waste, were employed to produce biochars under 350°C and 500°C. Their pH, point of zero net charge (PZNC), zeta potential, cation and anion exchange capacity (CEC and AEC) were analyzed. The municipal waste-based biochars (MW-BC) had higher mineral levels than the plant-based biochars (PB-BC). However, the water soluble mineral levels were lower in the MW-BCs due to the dominant presence of less soluble minerals, such as CaCO3 and (Ca, Mg)3(PO4)2. The higher total minerals in MW-BCs accounted for the higher PZNC (5.47-9.95) than in PB-BCs (1.91-8.18), though the PZNCs of the PB-BCs increased more than that of the MW-BCs as the production temperature rose. The minerals had influence on the zeta potentials via affecting the negative charges of biochars and the ionic strength of solution. The organic functional groups in PB-BCs such as -COOH and -OH had a greater effect on the CEC and AEC, while the minerals had a greater effect on that of MW-BCs. The measured CEC and AEC values had a strong positive correlation with the total amount of soluble cations and anions, respectively. Results indicated that biochar surface charges depend not only on the organic functional groups, but also on the minerals present and to some extent, minerals have more influences on the surface electrochemistry and ion exchange properties of biochar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-139
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2015


  • Anion exchange capacity
  • Biochar
  • Cation exchange capacity
  • Mineral components
  • Point of zero net charge
  • Zeta potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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