Poster Session & Social
4:40 PM - 6:30 PM Wed
POSTER PRESENTER #12
CO-AUTHORS: Brian Ohsowski, Loyola University Chicago (LUC); Sam Schurkamp, LUC; Shane, Lishawa, LUC
TITLE: Remediating road salt pollution with biochar
ABSTRACT: Often considered a silent pollutant, salt pollution in the Laurentian Great Lakes region is steadily increasing with few strategies for containment and removal. Road salt application is effective in promoting regional road safety during winter conditions, however excessive sodium and chloride that flow into roadside ecosystems can reduce water and soil quality, potentially rendering habitats inhospitable for native plant and animal species. Biochar, a common agricultural soil amendment, is the product of heating organic waste in low oxygen environments to the point of incomplete combustion. Biochar’s application has been observed to improve soil that has been degraded by salt. Biochar’s qualities, such as high cation exchange capacity and surface porosity, are valuable tools in buffering pH, improving nutrient retention, and adsorbing Na+ and Cl- ions in soil. I assessed biochar’s ability to adsorb Na+ and Cl- ions by filtering and sampling deionized water treated with road salt through buckets filled with sand and biochar, as well as only sand as a control. I expect to observe reduced Na+ and Cl- ions in the water that has been filtered through biochar treatments, indicating biochar’s potential to remediate salt-polluted soil and reduce downstream salt pollution. The data I present in this poster will contribute to a growing effort to understand the physical and chemical properties of biochar that lend it to be an effective restoration tool.
BIO: Kristina Tsakos is an undergraduate senior researcher for Loyola University Chicago's Team Typha. Kristina is investigating biochar's ability to remediate salt-polluted ecosystems in the Great Lakes region. She is a recipient of the Carbon Fellowship and the Society of Wetland Scientists Student Award.