Current methods of intense, fossil-fuel-dependant farming, along with the increasing use of minerals and chemicals, are costly, unsustainable, polluting, and damaging to health and the environment.
Production of mineral fertilisers requires the equivalent energy intensity of 5 litres of diesel fuel, for each tonne produced. Mineral fertilisers leach into water courses and lakes creating blooms of blue green algae, and toxins harmful to humans and animals. Recent research carried out in NSW Australia has revealed degenerative neurological conditions connected with activities affected by such environments. The European Union, under the vision of a circular economy , has highlighted the challenges and quantified objectives for change under the new fertiliser regulations.
The potential solution formulated by the project is the upscaled production of enriched biochar, and the project lead the University of Wolverhampton, see considerable business opportunities in this area adding value to the economy of the UK, and the EEA. Soil amendment using biochar has been the subject of many research programmes, to quantify further its known abilities. The material output is the product of thermally treating selected biomass, of a known moisture content, in a controlled low oxygen atmosphere under slow pyrolysis process.
The Industrial Partner, Pressvess’ and their objective, is to prove through a novel new design the PYROACTOR, the development of an easy to operate, self sustaining, field demonstrator reactor system, that production can be upscaled to manufacture affordable, sustainable, enriched biochar, creating a commodity of value from potentially waste organic materials.
Also addressing the challenge of bio-methane emissions to Atmosphere from bio degrading organic materials (known to amount to around 300 Cu Mtr per Ton)
Volume production of enriched biochar is still in its infancy and limited to smaller quantity sales, (mostly by-product of Batch production, charcoal making processes and measured in kilograms).
This Project and developed systems for sustainable, volume Production of enriched Biochar, will demonstrate the following:
1. Potential of scaling up production, (analysis of small quantity by batch production has shown significant results, see report from EBRI Aston University).
2. Efficiency of farm scale equipment,
3. Longevity and reliance of production equipment,
3. Consistency of product quality,
4. Environmental compliance of the process
5. Operability in rural areas.
In response to the opportunity, the business proposition can be outlined as research, product design, production process definition and technological development, for the volume manufacture of enriched biochar.