What is biochar? What are its characteristics? How is it produced? What are the benefits of biochar for soils and the agricultural sector? Carbonloop tells you everything you need to know about this extraordinary resource for agriculture and the climate. Explanations.
BIOCHAR IS A PLANT-BASED CHARCOAL-LIKE SUBSTANCE OBTAINED THROUGH BIOMASS PYROLYSIS. It consists mainly of carbon and can be put to many uses. In the face of climate change and the depletion of soils due to the intensive use of chemical fertilisers, this resource has become valuable, both for itssoil conditioning and carbon sequestration properties.
In the 17th century, the discovery of exceptionally fertile black soil revealed the origin of biochar. The science of the time showed that this Terra Preta on the banks of the Amazon River was created between 800 and 500 BCE by Amerindians, who had buried burnt plants in the soil for thousands of years. They modified their hostile natural environment to create an agricultural system capable of feeding their people. Indeed, their soils are remarkably rich in carbon and minerals. Even more surprising are its regenerative properties. Once biochar is in the soil, it promotes plant growth and enriches the humus for generations.
This ultra-fertilising plant-based charcoal has many interesting characteristics, particularly for the environment. Absorbent, purifying and porous, biochar can be used in a number of agronomic applications: soil improver, fertiliser accelerator, wastewater filtration. The pyrolysis of biomass, the act of carbonising plant residues, is what causes micro-porosity in this charcoal and allows it to retain a great deal of water and nutrients and sequester quantities of carbon.
Biochar is a very stable product. It can remain in the soil for a long time, with beneficial effects in the long term, as proven by Terra Preta. It is a huge resource for soil life.
Biochar is also a carbon sink. The majority of the carbon absorbed by the biomass during growth is sequestered during pyrolysis, in the biochar. This sequestration is stable and lasts for several hundred years. Through certification processes by independent bodies, biochar’s use in certain applications makes it possible to obtain carbon credits that guarantee the quality of the sequestration and its quantities. The IPCC also considers it to be a “negative emission technology”,
meaning it removes CO2 from the atmosphere. This means that its benefits are many. So are the benefits of our Carbonloop solution.
At Carbonloop, we capitalise on the properties of biochar to support industries in their Net Zero trajectory, with a sustainable and social impact on local areas. We use biomass residues to produce green energy directly at the consumption site: electricity, heat and hydrogen. And we use the biochar locally, a co-product of this transformation process, in agriculture and horticulture so that the area benefits from the regeneration of its soils, making them more fertile.
To find out more about biochar and its potential for tomorrow’s industry, join us at our conference “Biochar: scaling up” at the Bio360 Expo exhibition at Nantes Parc des Expositions on 31 March 2022, at 9.30am. We look forward to meeting you at the exhibition on 30 and 31 March at our booth (J45), right next to the conference room. For those not attending, a summary of the conference will be available after the exhibition. Register here.