Interest in biochar among soil and environment researchers has increased dramatically over the past decade. Biochar initially attracted attention for its potential to improve soil fertility and to uncouple the carbon cycle, by storing carbon from the atmosphere in a form that can remain stable for hundreds to thousands of years. Later it was found that biochar had applications in environmental and water science, mining, microbial ecology and other fields.
Beneficial effects of biochar and its environmental applications cannot be fully realised unless the chemical, physical, structural and surface properties of biochar are known. Currently many of the analytical procedures used for biochar analysis are not well defined, which makes it difficult to choose the right biochar for an intended use and to compare the existing data for biochars. Also, in some instances the use of inappropriate procedures has led to erroneous or inaccurate values for biochars in the scientific literature.
Biochar: A Guide to Analytical Methods fills this gap and provides procedures and guidelines for routine and advanced characterisation of biochars. Written by experts, each chapter provides background to a technique or procedure, a stepwise guide to analyses, and includes data for biochars made from a range of feedstocks common to all presented methods. Discussion about the unique features, disadvantages and advantages of a particular technique is an explicit focus of this handbook for biochar analyses.
Table of Contents
Sampling and preparation for laboratory analysis. Moisture and ash contents. pH and electrical conductivity. Cation exchange capacity. Total C, N, H and S analyses. Total elemental analysis. Inorganic carbon. Thermal analysis. Hydrogen pyrolysis. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. FTIR (and DTA-FTIR). NEXAFS. XRD. Isotope analysis. Scanning electron microscopic analysis. LC-OCD. Pore space and specific surface area. Sorption of organic. Py-GCMS. Germination tests. Organic contaminants. Available nutrients. Liming potential. Hydrophobicity. Moisture retention characteristics.
Balwant Singh is a Professor of Soil Science in the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Sydney. He is the current Chair of the Soil Mineralogy Commission of the International Union of Soil Sciences and a Councillor of the Association Internationale pour l’Etude des Argiles (AIPEA) and the Clay Mineral Society. Dr Singh is joint Editor-in-Chief of the journal Soil Research and an Associate Editor for three other journals.
Marta Camps-Arbestain is an Associate Professor of Soil Science at Massey University and the co-director of the New Zealand Biochar Research Centre. She has been a member of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (2013–15) and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Biochar Initiative (2011–15). Dr Camps-Arbestain is an Associate Editor of the journal Soil Research.
Johannes Lehmann is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry and Soil Fertility Management at Cornell University. Dr Lehmann is a member of the steering group of the International Soil Carbon Network, has testified in the US Congress, briefed the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, was part of Workgroup 2 on Monitoring and Assessment of Sustainable Land Management of the UNCCD , and serves on the Technical Management Advisory Committee of US AID ’s legume program. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems and co-founder of the International Biochar Initiative.