Biochar’s Potential for Carbon Capture – CCS using Biochar

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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.

Source

Biochar , Carbon Capture and Storage

One Response to “Biochar’s Potential for Carbon Capture – CCS using Biochar”

  1. All political persuasions agree, building soil carbon is GOOD.
    To Hard bitten Farmers, wary of carbon regulations that only increase their costs, Building soil carbon is a savory bone, to do well while doing good.

    Biochar provides the tool powerful enough to cover Farming’s carbon foot print while lowering cost simultaneously.

    Agriculture allowed our cultural accent and Agriculture will now prevent our descent.
    Wise Land management; Organic farming and afforestation can build back our soil carbon,
    Biochar allows the soil food web to build much more recalcitrant organic carbon, ( living biomass & Glomalins) in addition to the carbon in the biochar.

    Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth, TP), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages… SIMULTANEOUSLY!

    Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration (= to 1 Ton CO2e) + Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels = to 1MWh exported electricity, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle.

    Biochar viewed as soil Infrastructure; The old saw;
    “Feed the Soil Not the Plants” becomes;
    “Feed, Cloth and House the Soil, utilities included !”.
    Free Carbon Condominiums with carboxyl group fats in the pantry and hydroxyl alcohol in the mini bar.
    Build it and the Wee-Beasties will come.
    Microbes like to sit down when they eat.
    By setting this table we expand husbandry to whole new orders & Kingdoms of life.

    This is what I try to get across to Farmers, as to how I feel about the act of returning carbon to the soil. An act of penitence and thankfulness for the civilization we have created. Farmers are the Soil Sink Bankers, once carbon has a price, they will be laughing all the way to it.
    Unlike CCS which only reduces emissions, biochar systems draw down CO2 every energy cycle, closing a circle back to support the soil food web. The photosynthetic “capture” collectors are up and running, the “storage” sink is in operation just under our feet. Pyrolysis conversion plants are the only infrastructure we need to build out.

    Another significant aspect of low cost Biomass cook stoves that produce char is removal of BC aerosols and no respiratory disease emissions. At Scale, replacing “Three Stone” stoves the health benefits would equal eradication of Malaria http://biocharfund.org/
    The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF).recently funded The Biochar Fund $300K for these systems citing these priorities;
    (1) Hunger amongst the world’s poorest people, the subsistence farmers of Sub-Saharan Africa,
    (2) Deforestation resulting from a reliance on slash-and-burn farming,
    (3) Energy poverty and a lack of access to clean, renewable energy, and
    (4) Climate change.

    The Biochar Fund :
    Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon
    http://scitizen.com/screens/blogPage/viewBlog/sw_viewBlog.php?idTheme=14&idContribution=3011
    The broad smiles of 1500 subsistence farmers say it all ( that , and the size of the Biochar corn root balls )
    http://biocharfund.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=55&Itemid=75

    Mark my words; Given the potential for Laurens Rademaker’s programs to grow exponentially, only a short time lies between This man’s nomination for a Noble Prize.

    This authoritative PNAS article should cause the recent Royal Society Report to rethink their criticism of Biochar systems of Soil carbon sequestration;

    Reducing abrupt climate change risk using
    the Montreal Protocol and other regulatory
    actions to complement cuts in CO2 emissions
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/10/09/0902568106.full.pdf+html


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