Biochar technology shows promise in mitigating climate change and improving soil quality, as well as reducing waste and producing energy as a byproduct and other waste. But what is biochar?
Biochar is a charcoal substance that’s made by burning organic material from agricultural, forestry wastes (also called biomass) and waste in a controlled process called pyrolysis. Although it looks a lot like common charcoal made up of, biochar is produced using a specific process to reduce contamination and safely store carbon.
During pyrolysis organic materials, such as wood leaf litter, chips or dead plants, are burned in a container with very little oxygen. As the waste materials burn, they release little to no contaminating fumes. During the pyrolysis process, the organic compostable material is converted into biochar, a stable form of carbon that can’t easily escape into the atmosphere. The energy or heat created during pyrolysis can be captured and used as a form of clean energy from waste. Biochar is by far more efficient at converting carbon material into a stable form and is cleaner than other forms of charcoal.
In terms of physical attributes, highly porous, biochar is black, lightweight, fine-grained and has a large surface area. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of its composition is carbon. The remaining percentage consists of hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen among other elements. Biochar’s chemical composition varies depending on the feedstocks used to make it and Method of pyrolysis used to heat it.