Comparing Corn Stover and Switchgrass Biochar: Characterization and Sorption Properties

Steven C. Peterson, Michael Appell, Michael A. Jackson, Akwasi A. Boateng


A switchgrass biochar (SB) produced by fast pyrolysis and a corn stover biochar (CSB) from a slow pyrolysis process were mechanically milled and characterized. Both of these biochars are very cost-effective and originate as residues from bioenergy production and the corn industry, respectively. These two biochars were evaluated for their sorptive properties with both water and the estrogen containing compounds estrone, b-estradiol, and zearalenone via batch rebinding assays in salt solutions. Although CSB had greater total surface area than SB, SB was a more porous biochar, indicated by its greater micropore surface area. For both water and all estrogen containing compounds, SB had better sorptive capability, most likely due to its higher micropore surface area. These results suggest ball milled biochars from switchgrass and corn stover offer promise for a sustainable approach to removing toxins from water.

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Journal of Agricultural Science   ISSN 1916-9752 (Print)   ISSN 1916-9760 (Online)  E-mail:

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