Biochar is a useful and versatile charcoal-like substance that occurs as a residue of pyrolysis thermochemical conversion. Pyrolysis is process of converting biomass, such as plant matter, in a low-oxygen environment.
Why does it matter?
Achieving sustainable living standards for all demands innovative approaches to waste management, especially those that offer novel means to recovering or replacing nutrients lost due to industry and agriculture.
Industries such as forestry and agriculture represent some of the world’s largest sources of residue materials. They are particularly rich sources of low-value biomass and feedstock. Many of these biodegradable materials often end up unused, producing potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide as they decay.
Biochar has a key role to play in reducing these emissions, but challenges surrounding affordability and its potential for mass-market adoption remain. Our research at EBRI aims to help extract maximum commercial value while minimising the environmental impact of these waste by-products.
What can it do?
While primarily known for its usefulness as an environmentally-friendly soil additive, biochar has a range of remarkable uses, including:
Improving soil health and biodiversity
Mitigating global warming via carbon capture
Absorbing harmful industrial by-products
Increasing agricultural productivity
Inclusion in construction materials
Biochar at EBRI
EBRI is actively working with partners on the use of biochar to decarbonise cities, in vertical farming applications and clean-up of contaminated land.
Urban Biochar & Sustainable Materials Demonstrator
EBRI has been granted Local Growth Funding from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) to deliver an Urban Biochar and Sustainable Materials Demonstrator project - see short film below for more details. The demonstrator is devised to thermally convert wood cuttings from around Birmingham and Solihull into biochar, with the project aiming to benefit the local region both environmentally and economically. Read More
Biochar CleanTech Accelerator
Aston University, in partnership with local industries, has launched the Biochar CleanTech Accelerator, a project centered around innovative pyrolysis technology that transforms organic material into commercially viable bioproducts. These materials include sawdust, fallen trees, chicken litter, and agricultural straw, which are converted into biochar, gas, and liquids.
The Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) and the Centre for the Circular Economy and Advanced Sustainability (CEAS) are actively seeking partners to help bring these bioproducts (which include low carbon fuel, soil conditioners, and biochar for carbon capture, water treatment and building materials), to market.
The project is an integral part of the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator, aimed at strengthening the region’s innovation and research capabilities and driving commercial growth. Funded by a share of a £100 million grant from Innovate UK, this initiative forms part of the UK government’s efforts to accelerate regional engineering research and development, attract inward investment, and position the West Midlands at the forefront of the UK innovation revolution. The Biochar CleanTech Accelerator project aims to not only advance the commercial application of the new technology but also to prepare businesses for investment opportunities and to incorporate diverse engineering expertise.
To learn more about this initiative and the potential benefits of partnership, visit www.aston.ac.uk/research/eps/ebri/biochar-cleantech-accelerator or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We welcome collaboration opportunities with academia, government bodies and industry from around the world.
Energy and Bioproduct Research Institute (EBRI)