The Section of Soil Fauna and Ecotoxicology has been involved in projects evaluating the pros and cons of the processes that produces bioenergy, e.g. from the conversion of biomass into biochar through pyrolysis, producing bioenergy in the process. Biochar has received much attention recently as a soil additive to sequester carbon and increase soil fertility. Activated carbon has a higher active surface area, sometimes an order of magnitude higher, compared to un-activated biochar and may, hence, be used to sequester hydrophobic organic chemicals and, therefore, remediate contaminated soils and sediments. Bioash, the end product after normal incineration of biomass, may also have beneficial aspects for re-cycling, as it contains valuable nutrients.
There is a need for balancing the beneficial effects on soil fertility and plant growth with the potential toxic effects of pollutants present in these products. These may be PAH, dioxins and heavy metals. The Section of Soil Fauna and Ecotoxicology is, due to its long term research activity in soil quality and soil ecology, involved in assessing the potential ecological consequences of amending soils with the residual products of bioenergy production.