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Title: A comprehensive review on physical activation of biochar for energy and environmental applications
Abstract Biochar is a solid by-product of thermochemical conversion of biomass to bio-oil and syngas. It has a carbonaceous skeleton, a small amount of heteroatom functional groups, mineral matter, and water. Biochar’s unique physicochemical structures lead to many valuable properties of important technological applications, including its sorption capacity. Indeed, biochar’s wide range of applications include carbon sequestration, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, renewable energy generation, soil amendment, and environmental remediation. Aside from these applications, new scientific insights and technological concepts have continued to emerge in the last decade. Consequently, a systematic update of current knowledge regarding the complex nature of biochar, the scientific and technological impacts, and operational costs of different activation strategies are highly desirable for transforming biochar applications into industrial scales. This communication presents a comprehensive review of physical activation/modification strategies and their effects on the physicochemical properties of biochar and its applications in environment-related fields. Physical activation applied to the activation of biochar is discussed under three different categories: I) gaseous modification by steam, carbon dioxide, air, or ozone; II) thermal modification by conventional heating and microwave irradiation; and III) recently developed modification methods using ultrasound waves, plasma, and electrochemical methods. The activation results are discussed in terms of different physicochemical properties of biochar, such as surface area; micropore, mesopore, and total pore volume; surface functionality; burn-off; ash content; organic compound content; polarity; and aromaticity index. Due to the rapid increase in the application of biochar as adsorbents, the synergistic and antagonistic effects of activation processes on the desired application are also covered.  more » « less
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Reviews in Chemical Engineering
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National Science Foundation
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