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The work at the New Zealand Biochar Research Centre is organised into three closely-linked streams of research activities:
Soil science and biochar
Pyrolysis plant and biochar engineering
Biochar and greenhouse gas mitigation strategies
Centre staff are widely published in the area of biochar with topics including:
- Contribution to characterisation of biochar to estimate the labile fraction of carbon
- Producing biochars with enhanced surface activity through alkaline pretreatment of feedstocks
- Detailed carbon chemistry in charcoals from pre-European Maori gardens of New Zealand as a tool for understanding biochar stability in soils
- Assessing biochar stability indices using near infrared spectroscopy
Specific research questions we are investigating include:
- Can we produce environmentally-safe biochars from New Zealand feedstocks with an agronomic value for New Zealand soils?
- Is the whole process economically viable with a long-term net carbon negative footprint?
- Which barriers (e.g., social, technical and logistical aspects) are to be overcome before a large-scale implementation is attempted?
- Are there alternative uses of biochar other than agronomic ones (e.g., wastewater filtering)?
- Can we monitor biochar in soils with rapid and accessible technologies?
- What are the opportunities for the trading of carbon credits sourced from biochar/bioenergy systems?
How to make production feasible
An over-riding concern is how to make the production of biochar feasible. There are a number of options which are being reviewed by the Centre:
Offset trading (carbon markets)
Use of feedstocks with a waste management fee
Production of chars with added value
Agronomic added value
- Increases CEC
- Increases soil water content capacity
- Improves soil structure
- Increase biomass production
Environmental added value
- Reduces need for fertilisers
- Reduces N2O emissions
- Offsets fossil fuel for energy
- Filters pollutants
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Last updated on Tuesday 16 August 2016