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Environmental Pollution
Volume 299, 2022, 118810

Nanobiochar-rhizosphere interactions: Implications for the remediation of heavy-metal contaminated soils?

Xiaokai Zhanga, Mona Wellsb, Nabeel Khan Niazic

Institute of Environmental Processes and Pollution Control, School of Environmental and Civil Engineering, Jiangsu Engineering Laboratory for Biomass Energy and Carbon Reduction Technology, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Anaerobic Biotechnology, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, 214122, China.


Soil heavy metal contamination has increasingly become a serious environmental issue globally, nearing crisis proportions. There is an urgent need to find environmentally friendly materials to remediate heavy-metal contaminated soils. With the continuing maturation of research on using biochar (BC) for the remediation of contaminated soil, nano-biochar (nano-BC), which is an important fraction of BC, has gradually attracted increasing attention. Compared with BC, nano-BC has unique and useful properties for soil remediation, including a high specific surface area and hydrodynamic dispersivity. The efficacy of nano-BC for immobilization of non-degradable heavy-metal contaminants in soil systems, however, is strongly affected by plant rhizosphere processes, and there is very little known about the role that nano-BC play in these processes. The rhizosphere represents a dynamically complex soil environment, which, although having a small thickness, drives potentially large materials fluxes into and out of plants, notably agricultural foodstuffs, via large diffusive gradients. This article provides a critical review of over 140 peer-reviewed papers regarding nano-BC-rhizosphere interactions and the implications for the remediation of heavy-metal contaminated soils. We conclude that, when using nano-BC to remediate heavy metal-contaminated soil, the relationship between nano-BC and rhizosphere needs to be considered. Moreover, the challenges to extending our knowledge regarding the environmental risk of using nano-BC for remediation, as well as further research needs, are identified.

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