The role of biochar, natural iron oxides, and nanomaterials as soil amendments for immobilizing metals in shooting range soil

Anushka Upamali Rajapaksha, Mahtab Ahmad, Meththika Vithanage, Kwon Rae Kim, Jun Young Chang, Sang Soo Lee, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


High concentration of toxic metals in military shooting range soils poses a significant environmental concern due to the potential release of metals, such as Pb, Cu, and Sb, and hence requires remediation. The current study examined the effectiveness of buffalo weed (Ambrosia trifida L.) biomass and its derived biochars at pyrolytic temperatures of 300 and 700 °C, natural iron oxides (NRE), gibbsite, and silver nanoparticles on metal immobilization together with soil quality after 1-year soil incubation. Destructive (e.g., chemical extractions) and non-destructive (e.g., molecular spectroscopy) methods were used to investigate the immobilization efficacy of each amendment on Pb, Cu, and Sb, and to explore the possible immobilization mechanisms. The highest immobilization efficacy was observed with biochar produced at 300 °C, showing the maximum decreases of bioavailability by 94 and 70 % for Pb and Cu, respectively, which were attributed to the abundance of functional groups in the biochar. Biochar significantly increased the soil pH, cation exchange capacity, and P contents. Indeed, the scanning electron microscopic elemental dot mapping and X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopic (EXAFS) studies revealed associations of Pb with P (i.e., the formation of stable chloropyromorphite [Pb5(PO4)3Cl]) in the biomass- or biochar-amended soils. However, no amendment was effective on Sb immobilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-942
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental geochemistry and health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program, through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (Project No.: 2012R1A1B3001409) (70 %). This study was also partly supported by the “Research Program for Agricultural Science and Technology Development (Project No. PJ009219042014)”, National Academy of Agricultural Science, RDA, Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Black carbon
  • Charcoal
  • Nanoparticle
  • Slow pyrolysis
  • Soil remediation
  • Synchrotron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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