Effect of pyrolysis temperature on chemical and physical properties of sewage sludge biochar

Waste Manag Res. 2015 Mar;33(3):275-83. doi: 10.1177/0734242X14565210. Epub 2015 Jan 16.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of pyrolysis temperatures (300, 400, 500, 600 and 700°C) on properties of biochar produced from an urban sewage sludge. Biochar yield significantly decreased from 72.5% at 300°C to 52.9% at 700°C, whereas an increase in temperature increased the gas yield. Biochar pH and electrical conductivity increased by 3.8 and 1.4 dS m⁻¹, proportionally to the increment of temperature. Biochar produced at low temperatures had higher total nitrogen and total organic carbon content but a lower C/N ratio, calcium carbonate equivalent, and total P, K and Na contents. Total and diethylene triamine penta acetic acid (DTPA)-extractable concentrations of Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, Ni, Cr and Pb increased with increment of temperature. Lower DTPA-extractable concentrations of Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, Ni and Pb were found in biochars compared to the sewage sludge. Pyrolysis decreased bulk density, whereas particle density and porosity increment was observed upon pyrolysis with increment of temperature. Sewage sludge saturated water content (θs ) was 130.4 g 100g⁻¹ and significantly greater than biochar, but biochar θs significantly increased with temperature (95.7 versus 105.4 g 100g⁻¹ at 300 and 700°C, respectively). Pyrolysis decreased the biochar's water repellency, assessed by molarity of ethanol droplet (MED), compared to the sewage sludge. The lowest MED of 0.2 and water repellency rating of 3 were found for the biochar produced at 700°C. Based on our results and considering the energy consumption, pyrolysis temperature in the range of 300-400°C may be suggested for sewage sludge pyrolysis.

Keywords: Pyrolysis; bulk density; heavy metals; molarity of ethanol droplet; sewage sludge biochar; water repellency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Charcoal / analysis
  • Charcoal / chemistry*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Incineration*
  • Sewage / analysis
  • Sewage / chemistry*


  • Sewage
  • biochar
  • Charcoal