Soil amended with Algal Biochar Reduces Mobility of deicing salt contaminants in the environment: An atomistic insight

F Pahlavan and H Ghasemi and H Yazdani and EH Fini, CHEMOSPHERE, 323, 138172 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2023.138172

Soil-based filter media in green infrastructure buffers only a minor portion of deicing salt in surface water, allowing most of that to infiltrate into groundwater, thus negatively impacting drinking water and the aquatic ecosystem. The capacity of the filter medium to adsorb and fixate sodium (Na thorn ) and chloride (Cl- ) ions has been shown to improve by biochar amendment. The extent of improvement, however, depends on the type and density of functional groups on the biochar surface. Here, we use density functional theory (DFT) and molecular dy- namics (MD) simulations to show the merits of biochar grafted by nitrogenous functional groups to adsorb Cl- . Our group has shown that such functional groups are abundant in biochar made from protein-rich algae feed-stock. DFT is used to model algal biochar surface and its possible interactions with Cl- through two possible mechanisms: direct adsorption and cation (Na thorn )-bridging. Our DFT calculations reveal strong adsorption of Cl- to the biochar surface through hydrogen bonding and electrostatic attractions between the ions and active sites on biochar. MD results indicate the efficacy of algal biochar in delaying chloride diffusion. This study demon-strates the potential of amending soils with algal biochar as a dual-targeting strategy to sequestrate carbon and prevent deicing salt contaminants from leaching into water bodies.

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