Biochar

 

 

LUKE – example of the structure of willow biochar

uses of biochar

scientific research papers (

Biochar, charcoal, hydrochar, coal and activated carbon

Applying biochar as soil amendment started over 2500 years ago, when biochar was used by native Indians to fertilize small plots of land in highly infertile soils in the Amazon. This technique became known as “Terra Preta”. These Terra Preta soils have been reported to remain exceptionally fertile in comparison with surrounding soils, even after many centuries. This extraordinary finding has brought considerable attention to biochar’s capability of long-term microbial activity and carbon sequestration.

Biochar has several characteristics which can be modified by raw-material selection, additives and production conditions. Physical, chemical or biological activation of biochar upon pyrolysis may be needed in order to improve its properties and further on use in different applications. Biochar is often referred as charcoal which is used in soil amendment. However, biochar differs from charcoal in two notable ways. Firstly, charcoal is mainly used for combustion, whereas biochar is designed to be applied to the soil, where it improves soil’s properties, stores carbon, or filters percolating soil water. Secondly, the aim of biochar production process is to achieve well-developed porosity and absorption capacity which enable interaction between water, nutrients and microbes in the soil. In contrast, charcoal production does not necessarily develop such characteristics, since the product is to be used in combustion. Hence, charcoal production process is unfavourable for biochar production unless it is modified.

Finnish Biochar Association defines biochar according to the European Biochar Certificate:

“Biochar is a heterogeneous substance rich in aromatic carbon and minerals. It is produced by pyrolysis of sustainably obtained biomass under controlled conditions with clean technology and is used for any purpose that does not involve its rapid mineralisation to CO2 and may eventually become a soil amendment.” 

charcoal

Charcoal often refers to a type of char which is used for energy production. Once it is burned, it will release its carbon dioxide (CO2) content back to the atmosphere. 

  

hydrochar

Hydrochar is produced through hydrothermal carbonization and it differs significantly from biochar by its characteristics. 

 

coal

Fossil coal differs significantly from biochar by its chemical properties and structure.

 

activated carbon

All of the chars above can be further processed into activated carbon and is often used for example to significantly increase surface area. 

 

Several applications

Seedbeds

Filtering

Urban areas

Agriculture

Carbon drawdown

Seedbeds

Biochar has well-developed porosity and absorption capacity which enables interaction between water, nutrients and microbes in the soil.

Urban areas

Biochar can be used in urban areas for green building. Applications include seedbeds of urban trees, green roofs and stormwater management systems.

CArbon drawdown

Sooner or later biomass decomposes and the carbon dioxide absorbed by the biomass will be released back to atmosphere. This carbon cycle can be modified by turning biomass into biochar and storing it for hundereds or thousands of years in soil. 

Filtering

Biochar based filter technologies can be used to filter water such as  stormwater and nutrient waters.

Agriculture

Biochar can be added to livestock feed to improver well-being. The same biochar moves to manure where it reduces odor and continues to compost, improving the composting process. In the end, biochar contained compost can be used in soil to improve growth.

Other uses

Biochar has many uses, according to this report  there is at least 55 different uses.

Research groups and projects

 

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Biohiilen uusia käyttökohteita etsitään ja testataan aktiivisesti ja yhä enemmän ympäri maailmaa. Biohiilen käyttö, sen ominaisuuksien muokkaaminen, ymmärtäminen ja soveltaminen tarvitsee kuitenkin jatkuvaa pitkäaikaista tutkimusta ja seurantaa. Viimeisen kymmenen vuoden aikana biohiiltä on tutkittu aktiivisesti myös Suomessa.  Julkaisujen löytämisen helpottamiseksi, Suomessa tehtyt biohiilijulkaisut ovat listattu tällä sivulla. Kaikki julkaisut ovat täyttäneet seuraavat kriteerit:

  1. Kohdistuvat biohiilen käyttöön maanparannuksessa
  2. Julkaistu vertaisarvioiduissa julkaisuissa tai on hyväksytty opinnäytteeksi tai hankkeen raportiksi
  3. Tutkimus toteutettu Suomessa

 
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