Soil amended with Algal Biochar Reduces Mobility of deicing salt contaminants in the environment: An atomistic insight

Farideh Pahlavan, Hamid Ghasemi, Hessam Yazdani, Elham H. Fini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Soil-based filter media in green infrastructure buffers only a minor portion of deicing salt in surface water, allowing most of that to infiltrate into groundwater, thus negatively impacting drinking water and the aquatic ecosystem. The capacity of the filter medium to adsorb and fixate sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) ions has been shown to improve by biochar amendment. The extent of improvement, however, depends on the type and density of functional groups on the biochar surface. Here, we use density functional theory (DFT) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to show the merits of biochar grafted by nitrogenous functional groups to adsorb Cl. Our group has shown that such functional groups are abundant in biochar made from protein-rich algae feedstock. DFT is used to model algal biochar surface and its possible interactions with Cl through two possible mechanisms: direct adsorption and cation (Na+)-bridging. Our DFT calculations reveal strong adsorption of Cl to the biochar surface through hydrogen bonding and electrostatic attractions between the ions and active sites on biochar. MD results indicate the efficacy of algal biochar in delaying chloride diffusion. This study demonstrates the potential of amending soils with algal biochar as a dual-targeting strategy to sequestrate carbon and prevent deicing salt contaminants from leaching into water bodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number138172
StatePublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Algae-based biochar
  • Chloride adsorption
  • Deicing salt contaminants
  • Density functional theory
  • IGMH analysis
  • Soil amendment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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