Biochar-supported nZVI (nZVI/BC) for contaminant removal from soil and water: A critical review

Shengsen Wang, Mingyue Zhao, Min Zhou, Yuncong C. Li, Jun Wang, Bin Gao, Shinjiro Sato, Ke Feng, Weiqin Yin, Avanthi Deshani Igalavithana, Patryk Oleszczuk, Xiaozhi Wang, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Citations (Scopus)


The promising characteristics of nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) have not been fully exploited owing to intrinsic limitations. Carbon-enriched biochar (BC) has been widely used to overcome the limitations of nZVI and improve its reaction with environmental pollutants. This work reviews the preparation of nZVI/BC nanocomposites; the effects of BC as a supporting matrix on the nZVI crystallite size, dispersion, and oxidation and electron transfer capacity; and its interaction mechanisms with contaminants. The literature review suggests that the properties and preparation conditions of BC (e.g., pore structure, functional groups, feedstock composition, and pyrogenic temperature) play important roles in the manipulation of nZVI properties. This review discusses the interactions of nZVI/BC composites with heavy metals, nitrates, and organic compounds in soil and water. Overall, BC contributes to the removal of contaminants because it can attenuate contaminants on the surface of nZVI/BC; it also enhances electron transfer from nZVI to target contaminants owing to its good electrical conductivity and improves the crystallite size and dispersion of nZVI. This review is intended to provide insights into methods of optimizing nZVI/BC synthesis and maximizing the efficiency of nZVI in environmental cleanup.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)820-834
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of hazardous materials
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul 5


  • Biochar
  • Electron transfer
  • Heavy metals
  • Nanoscale zero-valent iron
  • Organic compounds
  • Soil remediation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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