Last updated on November 5th, 2019
Let’s evaluate our biochar definition and the history of biochar in the context of renewable energy.
What is biochar?
Biochar is a solid carbon co-product as a result of a bio-based char of organic carbon. These bio-based char organics include a renewable origin such as agricultural, plant, animal, fungi, microorganism, forestry and other materials in a natural living environment with the atmosphere.
Biochar has long been viewed as a climate change mitigant for farming and can be effective for a wide range of plants and soils.
Biochar Definition and Examples
The definition of biochar includes a number of different practical applications and uses. A key attribute to biochar is its high surface area content and porous structure.
In terms of appearance, biochar is black, lightweight and finely grained. The composition of biochar is majority carbon with the extra makeup including nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen. The chemical compounds found in biochar largely depend on the feedstock and the heating methods.
Biochar is often a byproduct of biomass projects, especially woody biomass.
Practical Applications for Biochar
Biochar is a nascent market whereby commercial applications have recently been applied. However, demand continues to rise for organic char related applications in commercial instances.
Several commercial applications for biochar, includes:
- Soil amendment for agriculture & farmland remediation. This can lead to higher crop yields.
- Filtration media for wastewater and foul gas treatment.
- Binder additive for asphalt road construction.
- An alternative to higher cost activated carbon. It can be turned into an organic form of activated carbon.
- Potentially, bio-based char could be used as a green fuel in power production
- Organic char can be used as a flooring material for animal farming
Biochar can then be sold on a secondary market for users seeking to apply it to in mass quantities. There are varies levels of grading, which largely determine the price for which bio-based char can be sold. Prices of biochar have been quoted anywhere between $100 to $300 per ton.
As a result of the number of different commercial applications for biochar, biochar offtake agreements have been a common theme in the renewable power generation industry.
Biochar has a number of different benefits. The growing market for biochar makes for an interesting proposition given the possible commercial applications. Here are several benefits to the organic char use that are worth considering:
- The byproduct of biochar may help the soil in the crop field to improve fertility and reliance
- Biochar improved the natural process of the environment due to carbon capture. This is enhanced through plant production.
- More CO2 is removed from the air when biochar is applied to a soil, which enhances the long-term sequestration of the process.
- Organic char can be used as water retention in many instances. For example, the char can be displaced into an oil well that features water flooding and can dry up the water well.
Are the benefits of biochar worth it? Any substance that has significant benefit has a price. Bio-based char is a valuable byproduct that features multiple-use cases.
What do you think about our biochar definition? Please let us know in the comments below.
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