Biochar’s Potential for Carbon Capture – CCS using Biochar
Scientists are reporting that biochar, a material that the Amazonian Indians used to enhance soil fertility centuries ago, has the potential in the modern world to help slow global climate change. Mass production of biochar could capture carbon that otherwise would wind up in the atmosphere as CO2.
Biochar can be used as a soil amendment to affect plant growth yield, improve water quality, reduce leaching of nutrients, reduce soil acidity, and reduce irrigation and fertilizer requirements.
The potential for biochar to both sequester CO2 and enhance soil fertility is something I have been hearing for quite some time now, in many meetings and conferences I attend. True, the CO2 is not sequestered entirely because it is released into the atmosphere over a period of time, but this appears to be one sustainable way of sequestration, at least partial sequestration.
Biochar is a high carbon, fine grained residue which used to be produced using centuries old techniques by smoldering biomass. It is typically produced by heating wood, grass, cornstalks or other organic matter in the absence of oxygen. The heat drives off gases that can be collected and burned to produce energy. It leaves behind charcoal rich in carbon.
A study recently done by ACS involved a life cycle analysis of biochar production. The study concluded that several biochar production systems have the potential for being an economically viable way of sequestering carbon while producing renewable energy and enhancing soil fertility.