Rice husk-derived biochar can aggravate arsenic mobility in ferrous-rich groundwater during oxygenation

Delai Zhong, Shupeng Ren, Xuelin Dong, Xiao Yang, Linling Wang, Jing Chen, Zezhou Zhao, Yanrong Zhang, Daniel C.W. Tsang, John C. Crittenden

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Elevated As(III) and Fe(II) in shallow reducing groundwater can be frequently re-oxidized by introducing O2 due to natural/anthropogenic processes, thus leading to oxidative precipitation of As as well as Fe. Nevertheless, the geochemical process may be impacted by co-existing engineered black carbon due to its considerable applications, which remains poorly understood. Taking rice husk-derived biochar prepared at 500 °C as an example, we explored its impact on the process particularly for the As(III) oxidation and (im)mobilization during the oxygenation. The presence of the biochar had a negligible effect on the As(III) oxidation and immobilization extents within 1 d, while accelerating their rates. However, the immobilized As(III) was significantly liberated from the formed Fe(III) minerals afterward within 21 d, which was 2.2-fold higher than that in the absence of the biochar. The enhanced As(III) liberation was attributed to the presence of the surface silicon-carbon structure, consisting of the outer silicon and inner carbon layers, of the rice husk-derived biochar. The outer silicon components, particularly for the dissolved silicate primarily promoted the As(III) release via ligand exchange, while significantly impeding the transformation of ferrihydrite to lepidocrocite and goethite still resulted secondarily in the As(III) release. Our findings reveal the possible impact of biochar on the environmental behavior and fate of As(III) in the Fe(II)-rich groundwater during the oxygenation. This work highlights that biochar, particularly for its structural features should be a concern in re-mobilizing As in such scenarios when the oxygenation time reaches several days or weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117264
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021


  • Aging
  • Arsenic remobilization
  • Engineered black carbon
  • Groundwater oxygenation
  • Iron minerals transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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