Biochar is a greenhouse gas removal (GGR) technology that can potentially make a major contribution to the UK’s net zero target achieving greenhouse gas emission reductions when applied to agricultural lands, peatlands and other locations. However, the big questions are: how can we make sure it is environmentally sustainable and economically viable? And are there any technological improvements that can facilitate the realisation of these goals?

Photograph of Jon McKechnie and Disni Gamaralalage
Co-Investigator Jon McKechnie (left) and researcher Disni Gamaralalage (right) provide lifecycle assessment (LCA) expertise.

Researchers, Disni Gamaralalage and Yuzhou Tang at the Universities of Nottingham and Leeds, are developing comprehensive LCA-TEA models considering the life cycle impacts of biochar including the procurement of biomass, biochar production, and permanence of carbon storage across various final applications. Their work will quantify the net greenhouse gas impacts and economic feasibility of biochar within the UK, which in turn can be extended to inform on global potentials. A simplified reaction model has been developed to simulate vital metrics such as mass yield, energy consumption, the time required for the reaction, char quality and characteristics.  Disni and Yuzhou are aiming to provide a guide for the design of flexible, scalable, and sustainable biochar production systems utilising a range of feedstocks.

Photograph of Researcher Yuzhou Tang and Co-Investigator Tim Cockerill, posing in front of a reactor
Researcher Yuzhou Tang (left) and co-investigator Tim Cockerill (right) lead in techno-economics.

Successful biochar deployment will also require an understanding of the effects of possible policies, together with the role of producers and farmers in nascent markets. The team is working to understand the views of all biochar stakeholders therefore, aiming to design business models that will meet the needs of all those that are crucial to realising its potential.

The effects of size/location of processing facilities, feedstock availability, and the co-benefits of soil amendment will also be added to the analysis framework to address the objectives of the Biochar Demonstrator and advance efforts toward achieving net-zero targets.

This blog post was written by Biochar Demonstrator researchers, Disni Gamaralalage (University of Nottingham) and Yuzhou Tang (University of Leeds).