Biochar Production, Characterisation & Degradation
Using state of the art techniques, the Biochar Demonstrator will assess biochar composition and stability, ensuring carbon is locked into the soil for hundreds of years.
Biochar is primarily supplied by industrial partners producing at high volume from virgin wood feedstocks, however the project also includes biochar from smaller-scale manufacturers and using alternative feedstocks. Our extensive field trial programme will require upwards of 200 tonnes of biochar from our partners, which will satisfy stringent voluntary standards, including the European Biochar Certificate, for safe concentrations of heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
Biochar Stability and Degradation
A clear, detailed, and accurate picture of the longevity and stability of biochar carbon in soils is essential. To predict the maximum extent of biochar degradation and stability, where monitoring will continue beyond the 4.5 year period of the Demonstrator for the field trials, the stability of the biochar will be tracked with time using various techniques including elemental analysis and high pressure hydrogen pyrolysis (HyPy).
How do we measure stability and degredation?
The H:C ratio of biochar obtained from elemental analysis, and SPAC (stable polycyclic aromatic carbon) obtained from a combination of elemental analysis and HyPy are good measures of determining the stability of biochars. H:C ratios of 0.5 and lower and SPAC of 50% and higher indicates high carbon stability over time. We also assess the degradation of chars through the characterisation of labile organics released from HyPy. We assess the stability and safe concentrations of heavy metals of all biochars supplied by our industrial partners prior to deployment in the fields for trials.