- Carbon rich material that is valuable for improving stability in soil and for its superior nutrient-retention properties, thus providing benefits to both the environment and agriculture.
- It is produced when biomass, including crop and animal manures, is heated in the absence of oxygen through the process known as pyrolysis or in the oxygen starved process of gasification.
- Biochar products are dry, pathogen-free, and have variable qualities based on the characteristics of the fuel being gasified.
Biochar is retained in the soil over many hundreds and even thousands of years, unlike fertilizers which typically require annual application. The “black earth”, or Terra Preta, of the Amazon Rain Forest is noted world-wide as being one of the most fertile soils, yet was actually a very poor soil enriched with biochar material. The market for biochar is currently being developed. It is valuable commercially for fertilizing soil, and is used to mitigate climate change through the sequestering of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Biochar is an ideal amendment to increase crop yields in most soil types.
Biochar also has a variety of other uses, including animal feed supplements and use as a water filtration medium. Extensive research has been done in both applications, with a small amount of biochar being sold for these uses. Research continues towards these and other applications.
Biochars can be vastly different depending on the way that they are produced and the materials from which they were created. As biochar experts often state, at this time there are more questions about biochar than there are answers, and new research brings about more opportunities to expand the biochar knowledge base. Coaltec has a more extensive knowledge of a variety of biochars being produced at a commercial scale than other companies. This allows for the formulation of a range of qualities of biochar to address the needs of different crops and soil types. As a pioneer in the formulation of biochar, Coaltec is working toward providing product, markets and distribution systems to fill the need for this valuable commodity.
Biochar-Bioenergy production has the potential to significantly contribute to securing a future of green energy for the United States.
An in depth look at Biochar – International Biochar Initiative:
The Promise of Biochar, a video featuring Dr. Johannes Lehmann, which includes the Josh Frye project:
Comprehensive information and analysis of biochar technology and its implications:
Biochar for Environmental Management: Science and Technology, Edited by Lehmann, Johannes and Joseph, Stephen. ISBN: 978-1-84407-658-1