Durability and micromechanical properties of biochar in biochar-cement composites under marine environment

Weijian Xu, Yuying Zhang, Muduo Li, Fulin Qu, Chi Sun Poon, Xiaohong Zhu, Daniel C.W. Tsang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Integrating biochar into traditional construction materials presents a promising avenue to reduce carbon emissions from the construction industry. While recent research has focused on the performance of biochar-cement materials, limited attention is given to the durability of biochar in cementitious materials. This study investigated the alterations in the structural, chemical, and mechanical properties of biochar in the cementitious system and marine environment. The results showed an increased pore size in the biochar and a potential collapse of its structure after long-term exposure of biochar to an alkaline cement environment. The decline of the aromaticity, 23.8% increase in matrix defectiveness, and formation of organometallic complexes between Ca2+ and oxygen-containing functional groups of biochar indicated that its interactions with hydrated cement would lead to the changes in its chemical properties. The exposure of biochar to the simulated cement solution reduced its Young's modulus from 3.81 GPa to 1.55 GPa and hardness from 0.70 GPa to 0.13 GPa possibly due to the collapse of the pore structure. The saponification reaction might disrupt the cross-linking network structure constructed by COOC and C–O–C in the biochar and release the fulvic-acid organics, causing a decrease in the short- and long-term rebound ratios by 5.6–25.6% and 5–17%, respectively. Biochar exposed to the simulated harsh environment (seawater) exhibited an increase in Young's modulus and hardness by ∼40% compared to virgin biochar. The long-term rebound ratio reached 96.6–99.2% due to brucite, NaCl, and KCl deposition and filling, implying the potential advantage of biochar-cement composites for long-term durability in the marine environment. These findings contribute new insights to the assessment of mechanical performance and durability of biochar-cement composites in diverse environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141842
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024


  • Biochar stability
  • Carbon-mineral interactions
  • Composite durability
  • Engineered biochar concrete
  • Low-carbon construction materials
  • Sustainable waste management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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