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     ,2017 Volume 54,Table of Contents for this issue

With the rapid increase in the application of biochars as amendments, studies are needed to clarify the possible environmental risks derived from biochars to use safely the biomass resources. This work reported selected dark sides of maize straw- and swine manure-derived biochars pyrolyzed at 300 and 500°C. During the pyrolysis processes, total heavy metals in the biochars were enriched greatly accompanying with considerable emission of the heavy metals into atmosphere and the trends became increasingly obvious with pyrolysis temperature. Meanwhile, the biochars showed distinctly decreased available heavy metals compared with raw feedstocks, which could be mainly attributed to the sorption by the inorganics in the biochars. The water- and acid-washing treatments significantly increased the releasing risks of heavy metals from biochars into the environments. Electron paramagnetic resonance analysis indicated that persistent free radicals, emerged strongly in the biochars as a function of the aromatization of biomass feedstocks, were free from the influence of water-, acid-, or organic-washing of the biochars and could remain stable even after aged in soils for 30 days. Dissolved biochars, highly produced during pyrolysis processes, showed distinct properties including lower molecular weight distribution while higher aromaticity compared with soil dissolved organic carbon. The results of this study provide important perspectives on the safe usage of biochars as agricultural/environmental amendments.

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