Study of the Relationship Between a Nutrient Element and Two Energy Elements During the Biochar Preparation Process

Abstract

To investigate the relationship between the retention of the nutrient element nitrogen (N) and the release of the energy elements carbon and hydrogen (C and H) during rice straw pyrolysis, biochar samples were produced at a temperature of 800 °C under different atmospheres (N2 or CO2). Thermogravimetric/mass spectrometry monitoring was used to measure the gases released during pyrolysis. The straw samples were also pre-treated with alkaline solutions to improve the retention rate of the nutrient element N in the biochar, making it suitable to be used for soil amendment. These studies yielded some important results: (1) When the evolution of gases containing the nutrient element N was high, the release of gases containing energy elements also increased; i.e., the N and C/H release showed a consistent positive correlation. (2) Pre-treatment with an alkaline solution inhibits N loss during straw pyrolysis, and higher-concentration alkaline solutions more effectively reduce the release of N. The amounts of N-containing gases released during the pyrolysis of straw samples subjected to the different pre-treatment procedures followed the order raw straw ≈ 0.15% KOH > 0.15% Ca(OH)2 > 0.15% NaOH. (3) Raw rice straw is mainly composed of cellulose (32.1%), hemicellulose (35.7%), and lignin (22.3%). Soaking the straw in an alkaline solution increases the relative contents of cellulose and hemicellulose. Because cellulose has an ordered crystalline structure with high thermal stability, the energy and nutrient elements were not easily released from cellulose as gases during pyrolysis.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41571283) and the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0800702).

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Correspondence to Zhongxin Tan.

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Yuan, S., Tan, Z., Zhang, L. et al. Study of the Relationship Between a Nutrient Element and Two Energy Elements During the Biochar Preparation Process. Waste Biomass Valor 12, 445–463 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12649-020-00973-y

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Keywords

  • Biochar
  • Nutrient element (n)
  • Energy elements (c and h)
  • Alkaline solution