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Open AccessArticle

XRD-Thermal Combined Analyses: An Approach to Evaluate the Potential of Phytoremediation, Phytomining, and Biochar Production

1
Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Cagliari, Cittadella Universitaria, 09042 Monserrato, Italy
2
Department of Physics and Earth Sciences, University of Ferrara, I-44100 Ferrara, Italy
3
Department of Sciences, University Roma Tre, 00146 Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 1976; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16111976
Received: 14 May 2019 / Revised: 30 May 2019 / Accepted: 1 June 2019 / Published: 4 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Collection Environmental Risk Assessment)
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Abstract

A method for evaluating the potential of reuse of biomasses for economic purposes is here presented starting from a case study. Juncus acutus plants and rhizospheres were harvested from abandoned Zn–Pb mine areas of southwest Sardinia (Italy). Thermogravimetry and Differential Thermal analyses were performed to evaluate the temperatures at which significant reactions occur. X-ray Diffraction (XRD) analysis was carried out on raw samples and on samples heated ex-situ (by a conventional diffractometer) or in-situ (by synchrotron-based diffraction). Raw samples mainly consist of quartz, phyllosilicates, and feldspars with minor amounts of sulfides, sulfates, and Fe, Pb, and Zn carbonates, concentrated in the rhizosphere. After heating, Zn and Fe oxides and willemite are observed in internal roots and stems, revealing the presence of these metals in the plant tissues. In-situ heating was less effective than ex-situ in revealing minor phases in organic samples, probably because the scarcity of oxygen within the sample holder did not allow the degradation of organic compounds and the oxidation of sulfides, resulting in a low quality XRD signal even if obtained with the high resolution ensured by a synchrotron light source. This method can be applied to plants from polluted sites for metal exploitation, and/or to biomasses from unpolluted sites for biochar production, since both applications take advantage of the knowledge of the minerals formed after heating. View Full-Text
Keywords: Juncus acutus; metal pollution; phytoremediation; conventional XRD; synchrotron-based XRD; thermal analyses Juncus acutus; metal pollution; phytoremediation; conventional XRD; synchrotron-based XRD; thermal analyses
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Fancello, D.; Scalco, J.; Medas, D.; Rodeghero, E.; Martucci, A.; Meneghini, C.; De Giudici, G. XRD-Thermal Combined Analyses: An Approach to Evaluate the Potential of Phytoremediation, Phytomining, and Biochar Production. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1976.

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