Pyrogenic carbon and its role in contaminant immobilization in soils

Fangjie Qi, Saranya Kuppusamy, Ravi Naidu, Nanthi S. Bolan, Yong Sik Ok, Dane Lamb, Yubiao Li, Linbo Yu, Kirk T. Semple, Hailong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Pyrogenic carbon (PyC), including soil native PyC and engineered PyC (biochars), is increasingly being recognized for its potential role as a low-cost immobilizer of contaminants in soils. Published reviews on the role of soil native PyC as a sorbent in soils have so far focused mainly on organic contaminants and paid little or no attention to inorganic contaminants. Further, a comprehensive review on the production of both natural PyC and engineered PyC (biochars), mechanisms involved, and factors influencing their role as soil contaminant immobilizer is so far not available. The objective of this review is thus to systematically summarize the sources, formation, and properties of PyC, including its quantification in soils, followed by their roles in the immobilization of both organic and inorganic contaminants in soils. Effectiveness of PyC on bioavailability, leaching, and degradation of soil contaminants was summarized. Notably, the mechanisms and factors (for the first time) influencing the immobilization processes for soil contaminants were also extensively elucidated. This review helps better understand and design PyC for soil contaminant immobilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-876
Number of pages82
JournalCritical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 19
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from CRC CARE (Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Contaminants
  • immobilization
  • pyrogenic carbon
  • soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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