Portrait | Kyriacos Zygouakis

Kyriacos Zygourakis

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Transport of Nitrogen Fertilizers in Biochar-amended Soils

Water-Food-Energy Nexus

Modeling the response of a bed of biochar-amended soil to typical modes of fertilizer applications

    Maintaining a sustainable food supply without degrading our environment will require novel engineering approaches for remediating the human disruption of the nitrogen cycle. More than half of the nitrogen fertilizer applied to fields is not available for plant growth due to losses caused by surface runoff, leaching into surface and groundwater, or volatilization. As a result, the increased use of nitrogen (N) fertilizer has been linked to a variety of water and air pollution problems. In addition, the denitrification reactions generate significant amounts of N2O, a major greenhouse gas.

    We use computer simulations and experimental studies to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms controlling the transport and reaction of N fertilizers in biochar-amended soils. We are particularly interested in understanding how key biochar properties (porosity, surface chemistry, adsorption capacity) affect water retention, N leaching, the rates of nitrification and denitrification reactions, and the fate of microbial communities that carry out these reactions.

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     National Academy of Engineering: Grand Challenges for Engineering:

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