Application of hardwood biochar as a reactive capping mat to stabilize mercury derived from contaminated floodplain soil and riverbank sediments
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Hardwood biochar (pyrolyzed at 700 °C), a potential candidate for Hg removal, has been proposed for use as reactive capping mats along groundwater discharge zones or riverbanks to control release of Hg from contaminated riverbank sediments. Frequent flooding and drainage in fluvial settings can influence the effectiveness of remediation systems in contaminated riverbank sediments and floodplain soils. This study evaluated the effectiveness of Hg removal using hardwood biochar under hydrogeochemical conditions representative of those present within a reactive capping mat installed in a fluvial setting. Two sets of treatment columns, containing 50% v.v biochar and quartz sand, were subjected to 100 weekly wetting/drying cycles that included dry air, water-saturated air, and drainage using leachate derived from two source columns as input solutions: 1. Passing simulated acid rain water through floodplain soil, 2. Passing river water through riverbank sediment. In both treatment columns, >80% of the Hg was retained on the biochar without promoting Hg methylation and the release of other unintended dissolved constituents (including N, P, DOC). Results from solidphase extraction analyses suggest that Hg accumulated near the air/biochar-sand interface (0–2 cm) in the treatment columns at low loadings but was present at greater depths at higher loadings. Results of micro X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) mapping and micro X-ray absorption near edge structure (μ-XANES) for the biochar collected at depths 0–2 cm in treatment columns suggest retention of Hg-bearing particles derived from riverbank sediment and floodplain soil within the pore structure of the biochar. Sulfur K-edge XANES analysis of the unused biochar and the biochar after treatment suggest formation of Hg complexes on the biochar surface. These results indicate that hardwood biochar is potentially an effective media for application in reactive mats for controlling Hg discharging from contaminated riverbank sediments.
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Alana O. Wang, Carol J. Ptacek, David W. Blowes, Blair D. Gibson, Richard C. Landis, James A. Dyer, Jing Ma (2019). Application of hardwood biochar as a reactive capping mat to stabilize mercury derived from contaminated floodplain soil and riverbank sediments. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14085
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