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About Biochar

About Biochar

Biochar is simply another name for charcoal. It is produced from the pyrolysis of biomass feedstocks. It is high in organic carbon and largely resistant to decomposition. Please refer to the Potential Benefits and Needed Research sections for more information.

The International Biochar Initiative provides one page information flyers on biochar:   www.biochar-international.org/ibimaterialsforpress.html

 

How is Biochar carbon-negative?

Biochar production can be carbon negative or carbon subtractive.

The biochar process (pyrolysis), produces a combination of both biochar and bio-energy, and with the stable storage of biochar, the overall process can result in a net removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The stable storage of biochar in soils can result in the overall net removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Biochar can sequester (store) the carbon in soils for hundreds and even thousands of years.

The bio-energy that is produced during pyrolysis falls into three main categories: bio-gas, bio-oils and heat. This energy can in turn be used to generate electricity or create gaseous and liquid fuels that can then be used for various applications such as heating buildings or other processes (combined heat & power) or for transportation, or soon, an ulta-clean liquid diesel fuel.

Because a portion of the original biomass carbon is returned to the soil in the form of biochar, the overall net release of carbon back to the atmosphere is carbon negative or carbon subtractive.

In comparison, a carbon neutral process is one that does not result in additional carbon dioxide being added to the atmosphere. A common example of a 'carbon neutral' activity is burning renewable biomass for energy instead of burning fossil fuels.

Applications for Biochar/Charcoal:

Biochar is currently being used in a variety of applications. Varying feedstocks and processes result in biochar with varying characteristics. A matching of the type of biochar and respective applicable applications is in process. Following is a partial list of applications:

  • Soil amendment
  • Metallurgical
    - biochar is being used as a reductant or reducing agent in the production of iron and steel, having a similar function to coke
  • Cooking and heating
    - in third world countries
  • Other applications

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