Research Topic

Biochar Modification Technologies for Sustainable Water, Energy and Food Nexus

About this Research Topic

The world population in 2050 is expected to escalate to 1.5 times of the current level. The rapid increase in human activities will impose unprecedentedly severe stress on the Earth’s natural resources and its water/energy/food (WEF) nexus. It has been demonstrated that the abundant carbonaceous materials can be selectively modified and serve as keys to a wide spectrum of challenges in the WEF nexus. This goal has often been accomplished by physical and chemical activation processes.

Biochar is only an example of those useful carbonaceous materials in WEF nexus. 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 such as its sorption capacity. Biochar’s wide range of applications includes 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.

Surface area, surface charge, aromatic carbonaceous skeleton, mineral compounds, and various polar functional groups are the key physicochemical characteristics of biochar. All these mainly depend on biochar’s origin and its thermal history. However, biochar’s application and efficiency can often be improved by the manipulation of its structure and the functional groups for desired application. It has indeed emerged as a versatile and growing field of research.

The editors encourage submissions of original research articles, short communications, industrial and country/region case studies, and review articles that cover the following topics:

• Thermal modification or activation of biochar and other carbonaceous materials
• Partial oxidizing of biochar and other carbonaceous materials
• Chemical modification or activation of biochar and other carbonaceous materials, e.g., amination, sulfonation, etc.
• Life-cycle and techno-economic analysis of biochar’s or other carbonaceous materials’ modification or activation
• Novel techniques for dealing with challenges in activation of biochar and other carbonaceous materials
• Novel approaches for modification or activation of biochar and other carbonaceous materials and reactor design
• Potential uses and applications of biochar and carbonaceous materials for sustainable energy and environment
• Integration of biochar’s and carbonaceous materials’ modification with other technologies.


Keywords: Carbonaceous Material, Biochar, Biomass, Carbon Sequestration, Waste Management, environmental remediation, life-cycle analysis


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The world population in 2050 is expected to escalate to 1.5 times of the current level. The rapid increase in human activities will impose unprecedentedly severe stress on the Earth’s natural resources and its water/energy/food (WEF) nexus. It has been demonstrated that the abundant carbonaceous materials can be selectively modified and serve as keys to a wide spectrum of challenges in the WEF nexus. This goal has often been accomplished by physical and chemical activation processes.

Biochar is only an example of those useful carbonaceous materials in WEF nexus. 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 such as its sorption capacity. Biochar’s wide range of applications includes 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.

Surface area, surface charge, aromatic carbonaceous skeleton, mineral compounds, and various polar functional groups are the key physicochemical characteristics of biochar. All these mainly depend on biochar’s origin and its thermal history. However, biochar’s application and efficiency can often be improved by the manipulation of its structure and the functional groups for desired application. It has indeed emerged as a versatile and growing field of research.

The editors encourage submissions of original research articles, short communications, industrial and country/region case studies, and review articles that cover the following topics:

• Thermal modification or activation of biochar and other carbonaceous materials
• Partial oxidizing of biochar and other carbonaceous materials
• Chemical modification or activation of biochar and other carbonaceous materials, e.g., amination, sulfonation, etc.
• Life-cycle and techno-economic analysis of biochar’s or other carbonaceous materials’ modification or activation
• Novel techniques for dealing with challenges in activation of biochar and other carbonaceous materials
• Novel approaches for modification or activation of biochar and other carbonaceous materials and reactor design
• Potential uses and applications of biochar and carbonaceous materials for sustainable energy and environment
• Integration of biochar’s and carbonaceous materials’ modification with other technologies.


Keywords: Carbonaceous Material, Biochar, Biomass, Carbon Sequestration, Waste Management, environmental remediation, life-cycle analysis


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

01 May 2019 Manuscript
30 September 2019 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

01 May 2019 Manuscript
30 September 2019 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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