Session 3: Risks

The Janusface of Biochar: Risk of pollution versus pollution remediation tool?

Pyrolysis performed under inappropriate processing conditions may produce biochars loaded with pollutants. These need to be quantitatively identified to facilitate their avoidance. But biochar (the Janus face) can also strongly sorb environmental pollutants when they come into contact with biochar.

While the first property poses potential risks that need to be assessed and minimized by proper biochar production, the latter can be an interesting option in waste water purification, soil remediation and animal waste treatment.

The session aims at elucidating all aspects of biochar-pollutant interactions, such as suitable analytical and ecotoxicological methods, fate of pollutants during biochar production (formation of residuals, mechanisms of formation), quantification of total and bioavailable fractions of pollutants in biochar, biochar ecotoxicity testing, sorption of pollutants to biochar, biochar optimization and applications for pollutant sequestration, and generally pollutant exposure and effect studies in biochar-containing systems. Pollutants of interest include, but are not restricted to, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), polychlorinated organic compounds, pesticides, veterinary drugs, and heavy metals.

Session lead: Thomas Bucheli, Agroscope, Switzerland; Ana Catharina Bastos, University de Aveiro, Portugal; Gerard Cornelissen, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Norway, Gerhard Soja, Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria

Keynote: Gerhard Cornelissen


Lecture Title: Organic compounds and biochar: strong binding and limited bioavailability

Content: Organic compounds such as PAHs are strongly bound by biochar. This limits the bioavailability of co-synthesized PAHs, which pose no risk in most cases. The strong binding can also be used in a soil and sediment remediation perspective.

Dr. Gerard Cornelissen is a technical expert at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute and a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. His research focuses on sorption of organic compounds to soils and sediments, passive sampling methods, and agronomic and socio-economic aspects of biochar implementation in the tropics.


Please find here the template to submit your oral or poster presentation.