A gasification process developed by Energy Quest, Inc. (EQI) - a Nevada based specialist in the development of alternative energy and fuels - has produced Biochar from agricultural wastes and other biomass.
Biochar, a kind of charcoal that is rich in carbon, traps carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and can store it in soils for hundreds to thousands of years. It also soaks up nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, preventing them from leaching out of soil, and thereby boosts soil fertility.
EQI says that by speeding up the biomass fuel throughput, and adjusting the process parameters, carbon content can be increased in the solid output residue from its gasifier. According to the company, making these changes to its gasifier resulted in the production of a high quality agricultural grade soil amending Biochar.
A modular gasification bio-energy plant consuming 10 to 12 tons per hour of agricultural biowaste will produce 16,000 to 18,000 tons per year of Biochar.
According EQI, using Biochar as a soil amendment can enhance crop production with the added benefit of removing net carbon from the atmosphere.
Christoph Steiner, a University of Georgia research scientist in the Faculty of Engineering said: "The potential of Biochar lies in its ability to sequester-capture and store huge amounts of carbon while also displacing fossil fuel energy, effectively doubling its carbon impact... scientists estimate Biochar from agriculture and forestry residues can potentially sequester billions of tons of carbon in the world's soils."
The company claims that producing Biochar with its modular gasification design will result in lower set up costs and increased efficiencies. The gasifiers, transportable or stationary design, can also provide clean syngas fuel for heat and/or power generation.