Engineered/designer biochar for contaminant removal/immobilization from soil and water: Potential and implication of biochar modification

Anushka Upamali Rajapaksha, Season S. Chen, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Ming Zhang, Meththika Vithanage, Sanchita Mandal, Bin Gao, Nanthi S. Bolan, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

990 Citations (Scopus)


The use of biochar has been suggested as a means of remediating contaminated soil and water. The practical applications of conventional biochar for contaminant immobilization and removal however need further improvements. Hence, recent attention has focused on modification of biochar with novel structures and surface properties in order to improve its remediation efficacy and environmental benefits. Engineered/designer biochars are commonly used terms to indicate application-oriented, outcome-based biochar modification or synthesis. In recent years, biochar modifications involving various methods such as, acid treatment, base treatment, amination, surfactant modification, impregnation of mineral sorbents, steam activation and magnetic modification have been widely studied. This review summarizes and evaluates biochar modification methods, corresponding mechanisms, and their benefits for contaminant management in soil and water. Applicability and performance of modification methods depend on the type of contaminants (i.e., inorganic/organic, anionic/cationic, hydrophilic/hydrophobic, polar/non-polar), environmental conditions, remediation goals, and land use purpose. In general, modification to produce engineered/designer biochar is likely to enhance the sorption capacity of biochar and its potential applications for environmental remediation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-291
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Adsorbent
  • Black carbon
  • Charcoal
  • SMART biochar
  • Sorption
  • Surface chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry


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