Biochar has huge carbon offset potential: study
By Bob Beale
August 11, 2010
Up to 12 percent of the world’s human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be sustainably offset by producing biochar from plants and other organic material, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.
"This study demonstrates that biochar can help tackle our climate concerns in a major and sustainable way," says Visiting Professor Stephen Joseph, a biochar pioneer in the UNSW School of Materials Science and Engineering and one of the authors of the study.
"The beauty of the technology is that it is a win-win solution: it can be used to produce energy but at the same time reduce carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere."
Biochar is made by thermally decomposing agricultural and urban residues such as green waste, chicken manure, rice husks, corn cobs and peanut shells at relatively low temperature in a process called pyrolysis. Many biochars are stable for over 100 years and some biochars even thousands of years, keeping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide out of the air longer. Normally, such material would break down (compost) and release its carbon into the atmosphere within a decade or two.
The pyrolysis process also produces some bio-based gas and oil that can produce energy offsetting emissions from the burning of fossil fuels....