Effects of biochar on hydraulic conductivity of compacted kaolin clay

Tsz Fung James WONG, Zhongkui CHEN, Yan Yan Annie WONG, Wang Wai Charles NG, Ming Hung WONG

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Compacted clay is widely used as capillary barriers in landfill final cover system. Recently, biochar amended clay (BAC) has been proposed as a sustainable alternative cover material. However, the effects of biochar on saturated hydraulic conductivity (ksat) of clay with high degree of compaction is not yet understood. The present study aims to investigate the effects of biochar on ksat of compacted kaolin clay. Soil specimens were prepared by amending kaolin clay with biochar derived from peanut-shell at 0, 5 and 20% (w/w). The ksat of soil specimens was measured using a flexible water permeameter. The effects of biochar on the microstructure of the compacted clay was also investigated using MIP. Adding 5% and 20% of biochar increased the ksat of compacted kaolin clay from 1.2 × 10−9 to 2.1 × 10−9 and 1.3 × 10-8 ms-1, respectively. The increase in ksat of clay was due to the shift in pore size distribution of compacted biochar-amended clay (BAC). MIP results revealed that adding 20% of biochar shifted the dominant pore diameter of clay from 0.01–0.1 μm (meso– and macropores) to 0.1–4 μm (macropores). Results reported in this communication revealed that biochar application increased the ksat of compacted clay, and the increment was positively correlated to the biochar percentage. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-472
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Early online dateDec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Wong, J. T. F., Chen, Z., Wong, A. Y. Y., Ng, C. W. W., & Wong, M. H. (2018). Effects of biochar on hydraulic conductivity of compacted kaolin clay. Environmental Pollution, 234, 468-472. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.11.079


  • Compacted clay
  • Water permeability
  • Biochar
  • Micro-structure
  • Landfill cover


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