The carbon isotope composition of semi-labile and stable pyrogenic carbon in a thermosequence of C₃ and C₄ derived char

Wurster, Christopher M., McBeath, Anna V., and Bird, Michael I. (2015) The carbon isotope composition of semi-labile and stable pyrogenic carbon in a thermosequence of C₃ and C₄ derived char. Organic Geochemistry, 81. pp. 20-26.

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To better elucidate the reactions forming pyrogenic carbon (PyC) during pyrolysis, we investigated the carbon isotope fractionation trends in thermosequences for biomass types utilizing C₃ and C₄ photosynthetic pathways. PyC remaining after pyrolysis was treated using hydrogen pyrolysis to isolate the stable polycyclic aromatic carbon (SPAC) component and the semi-labile carbon component (PyC(SL)) was estimated from mass balance (the component that survived pyrolysis, but was not SPAC). C isotope fractionation trends as a function of pyrolysis temperature were determined for each of these three components (PyC, SPAC and PyC(SL)) relative to the C isotope composition of the bulk raw biomass. Although the isotope fractionation patterns for all materials were similar for total PyC, differences were noted between C₄ and C₃ biomass for isotope fractionation patterns of SPAC. The δ¹³C values of SPAC were higher than the original biomass for C₃ material, yet similar for C₄ material at formation temperature 300–700 °C. The δ¹³C values of PyC(SL) for all materials displayed distinct and progressively lower isotope composition relative to original biomass at higher temperature. The results, in combination with Fourier transform infrared patterns, indicated that the dominant source of SPAC is cellulose, and that lignin decomposes at higher temperature with very low δ¹³C MeO-rich lignin moieties preferentially surviving in PyC(SL). The δ¹³C values of SPAC were 0.2 ± 1.2‰ of the starting material, suggesting that this component might be used to determine the dominant source of PyC, although environmental mixtures of PyC in natural settings are more complex than those studied.

Item ID: 43355
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-5290
Keywords: biochar; black carbon; carbon isotopes; charcoal; methoxy
Funders: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), Carbon Farming Initiative Biochar Capacity Building Program (CFIBCBP), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FF0883221
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2016 04:20
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0402 Geochemistry > 040203 Isotope Geochemistry @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 100%
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