Monday, August 16, 2010

Biochar could fight climate change

Kevin McCullan in the News Tribute (Tacoma, Washington): The most comprehensive analysis yet of the worldwide potential of biochar -- a charcoal-like substance -- shows it could offset up to 1.8 billion metric tons annually of the world's human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study. Biochar also can be used to improve poor soil and help it hold water, which can boost production of food crops, according to the study, which was co-authored by a Richland-based scientist. And the process used to make it -- pyrolysis -- yields energy and bio-oil that can be used as fuel.

Biochar can be produced on scales large or small -- at industrial facilities or in a small farming operation. But its largest potential is as a tool to stabilize carbon from common sources, such as plants and wood or animal waste, and store it in the soil for decades, according to the study published this week in the journal Nature Communications.

"This is the most complete bottoms-up study of biochar and how it can combat climate change to date," said Jim Amonette, a soil chemist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and study co-author.

…Amonette said biochar presents "one of the few ways we can create power while decreasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. And it improves food production in the world's poorest regions by increasing soil fertility."…

Terra preta (or biochar) on the right, shot by Bruno Glaser, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not talked about in this otherwise comprehensive study are the climate and whole ecological implications of new , higher value, applications of chars.

First, the insitu remediation of a vast variety of toxic agents in soils and sediments.
Biochar Sorption of Contaminants;
Dr. Lima's work; Specialized Characterization Methods for Biochar
And at USDA; The Ultimate Trash To Treasure: *ARS Research Turns Poultry Waste into Toxin-grabbing Char

Second, the uses as a feed ration for livestock to reduce GHG emissions and increase disease resistance.

Third, Recent work by C. Steiner showing a 52% reduction of NH3 loss when char is used as a composting accelerator. This will have profound value added consequences for the commercial composting industry by reduction of their GHG emissions and the sale of compost as a nitrogen fertilizer.

NASA?s Space Archaeology terra preta Program;

WorldStoves in Haiti ; and The Biochar Fund deserves your attention and support. Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon

NSF Awards $600K to BREAD: Biochar Inoculants for Enabling Smallholder Agriculture

For those looking for an overview of biochar and its benefits, These authors have done a very nice job of distilling a great deal of information about biochar and applying it to the US context: US -Focused Biochar report: Assessment of Biochar's Benefits for theUSA