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Chemosphere. 2009 May;75(8):1021-7. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.01.045. Epub 2009 Feb 14.

Ageing of black carbon along a temperature gradient.

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  • 1Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Black carbon (BC) is regarded as a chemically and biologically stable form of carbon and the changes of BC properties in nature are generally assumed to be minute. However, more and more observations have argued the inertness of BC. The objectives of this study were to characterize the changes of BC properties through ageing processes and to identify if these changes are associated with temperature. Our results showed that ageing of BC occurs over a temperature range from -22 degrees C to 70 degrees C within a short period of 12 months. The main changes of BC properties through ageing were found in elemental composition, surface chemistry, and adsorption properties, where the aged BCs were shown to have higher oxygen concentrations, surface acidity, and negative surface charge but lower C concentrations, pH, surface basicity, point of zero net charge, and also a lower adsorption capacity of hydroquinone, an allelopathic compound, than fresh BC. These ageing processes of BC were affected by temperature and changed over time, with higher temperature and longer incubation time enhancing BC ageing. Our results from a wide temperature range suggest that ageing of BC is likely to occur in any terrestrial regime and that the changes of BC properties through ageing should not be overlooked.

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