Biochar: A Potential Solution to Address Greenhouse Gases Emissionby Basant K. Global Market Research Reports
Biochar refers to charcoal made from biomass ̶ agricultural waste and plant material. It is produced from a process called pyrolysis that slowly burns organic matter in an environment devoid of oxygen. The increase in production and usage of biochar can be contributed to its benefits like enhancement in carbon storage in soil and soil health in terms of nutrient retention. It performs a key role in climate change initiatives, especially the ones that encourage agriculture.
Production process yields bio fuel
The production process named pyrolysis gives two products ̶ biochar and biofuel that are eco-friendly. Biogas is a mixture of many gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Biogas is combustible and hence is used as fuel source. Bio fuel produced from pyrolysis can be of a different composition and can form a product called bio-oil that has the potential to substitute diesel in many engines. Faster pyrolysis yields oils and liquids whereas slow pyrolysis gives bio fuel.
Biochar benefits agriculture sector mainly by soil improvement, and animal and crop waste disposal. The biochar type varies depending on the rate of pyrolysis, kiln size and biomass type that include rice, bark and wood. Biochar production uses organic waste and hence, contribute towards cost-effective waste management. Moreover, biochar production converts waste into a resource by removing potential pathogens that are harmful to soil. It influences various physical aspects of soil like particle size, distribution, texture, porosity, bulk density and structure. It impacts the chemical structure of soil by enhancing its carbon, pH and CEC content. Additionally, biochar is applied to increase immobilization of inorganic N and reduce ammonia volatilization. It brings about increase in bacterial and decrease in fungi in soil.
Production generates employment
Biochar has grabbed the global attention as it has the potential to address climate change. It effects in three main ways which are carbon storage for long periods, reduction of greenhouse gases and waste recycling. Also, pyrolysis process is involved in production of viable forms of renewable energy that include biofuel and bio oil. Biochar is known to promote “double green revolution” by addressing food insecurity and soil organic matter. Its properties make it an ideal ingredient that can bring environmental remediation of inorganic and organic pollutants. Biochar induction changes soil microbial community structure resulting in altered N and C cycling, N₂O flux and change in soil respiration and reduced emission of GHG that includes CH₄, CO₂ and N₂O.
Biochar production is of social value as it generates employment. It helps to achieve various social goals such as providing year round employment, helping small businesses like nurseries to flourish, generating livable wages for workers and creating outdoor working opportunities. Biochar is in introductory phase and its demand is yet to rise. The public is getting educated and growing aware about the environmental benefits of biochar. Customer education regarding the potential of biochar to generate revenues from various sources like alternative energy and agricultural fertilizers, is a vital factor that determines the growth in demand and usage of biochar. Various universities, companies and governments across the globe are actively researching on the future scopes of biochar. Currently, the biochar market provides two main products that are biochar as composite mixes and pure biochar which can be measured and mixed in the fertilizers by the customer as per the requirement.
Lack of awareness inhibits growth in business and promotion
Lack of awareness is the main hurdle in biochar business and promotion. Most of the biochar selling firms own a website that has description of the product. There are websites also include the testing results and user testimonials. Popular media articles and scientific researchers have also made their way into theses websites. Many companies have taken a step ahead with providing personalized biochar consulting services and classes on biochar application. In spite of all the efforts to create a strong web presence, the consumer awareness and demand is low. Apart from consumers, even farmers are hesitant to add biochar to their existing farms. Though they are aware of the advantages, introduction of a new element into already existing farmland can be tedious and risky. Owners of large scale agricultural lands are mostly reluctant to do soil amendments to increase crop yield.
Distribution is another factor that challenges growth in biochar business. Long distance shipping invites special arrangements to protect the product from moisture and damage that incurs huge expenses. To reduce the cost, biochar dealers sell their products online on websites such as ebay. House calls has gained popularity amongst the sellers as it brings down the cost to a significant level. Most of the biochar mixtures are sold in plastic bags or wax coated heavy boxes.
Other challenges that inhibit the business growth are feedstock selection with low moisture content. The possibility to dry out the wetter feedstock for biochar production adds onto time and cost. While there are many possibilities surrounding biochar production, many knowledge area gaps are yet to be filled in. More researches are being carried on to study the long term effect of biochar on soil and effect of changes in physical and chemical properties of soil on biochar. Experiments and studies need to be conducted to understand the alterations of biochar that can reduce greenhouse gases to a more significant level and enhance soil deficiencies. Designer biochar with tailored pyrolysis and feedstock can address many environmental and agricultural problems faced today.
Created on Oct 3rd 2019 08:14. Viewed 120 times.