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Biochar from Forest Residue

Papers
  1. -A Biochar Solution for Climate Change (Awesome Library) star
      "The Biochar Program will demonstrate that carbonizing forest waste and then planting the char, "biochar," in farming soil is a powerful method to mitigate climate change." 01-16

  2. -Air Curtain Destructors for Generating Biochar (AirBurners.com)
      "Air Curtain Burners, also called FireBoxes, were designed principally as a pollution control device. The primary objective of an air curtain machine is to reduce the particulate matter (PM) or smoke, which results from burning clean wood waste. It is sometimes hard to visualize without seeing a machine in operation, but the machines do not burn anything, rather they control the results of something burning."

      "You could look at it as a pollution control device for open burning."

      Editor's Note: An air curtain destructor can be modified to produce primarily biochar or biochar and electricity. Since air curtain destructors are designed to produce ash, not biochar, it should be noted that spreading ash on agricultural or forest land may be a problem as it increases the soil's pH and potassium. 02-16

  3. -Biochar Solution for Forests (US Forest Service)
      "National Forests in the West are overgrown and vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires and attacks by insects and disease. Drought and conditions associated with climate change exacerbate the problem and further contribute to deteriorating forest health. Treatments to thin the forests, decrease fuel loads, and clear out insect- and disease-killed trees have proven expensive. Because there are few markets for small roundwood and virtually no markets for residual material, such as tops, limbs, etc., many timber sales are judged by potential bidders to be economically infeasible. When treatment projects do get carried out, slash piles of residual material are often burned on site, contributing to smoke, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions."

      "The use of woody biomass to produce value-added products, especially from residual materials of biomass removal and wood processing, enhances the feasibility of biomass removal and thus forest treatment projects. One way to convert woody biomass into a useable material is through pyrolysis, a process in which organic matter is heated rapidly to high temperatures with limited or no oxygen. Products from woody biomass include: 1) biochar (biological charcoal), which has potential as a solid fuel, a soil amendment, and a precursor for secondary carbon products, including activated carbon; 2) syngas (synthesis gas), which has potential for energy production and as feedstock for liquid fuels and chemical production; and 3) bio-oil, which has potential for use as heating oil, transportation fuel, or chemical feedstock. Research at the Rocky Mountain Research Station has focused primarily on biochar." 01-16

  4. -Carbon Storage Capacity of Forests (Grist.org)
      "As the climate warms, public lands may become even more valuable in America’s effort to fight greenhouse gas emissions because climate change may increase the amount of carbon federal public lands in the lower 48 states are able to store by nearly 20 percent by 2050, a new study shows."

      "The study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first of its kind researching the carbon storage and sequestration potential on federal land. It considered only carbon storage potential on federal land in the lower 48 states, excluding Hawaii and Alaska."

      "Forests remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in tree trunks, roots and other woody biomass, creating what scientists call a 'carbon sink — a reservoir of stored carbon. When a forest is cut down or burns, however, the carbon is released back into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.""

      "Editor's Note: The study indicates that 14 billion tons of carbon could be sequestered by forests in the United States by 2050; that is more than humans currently emit by burning fossil fuels in a year. 09-15

  5. -Costs for Making Biochar from Forest Residue (FS.Fed.US)
      "Both off- and on-site consequences occur from pile-burning biomass. Dried biomass is about 50 percent carbon and when biomass slash piles are flared that carbon is oxidized and released back to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide or other organic compounds. Such disposal is questionable in light of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon. In addition to volatilizing carbon, other essential plant nutrients are also lost from the site by burning."

  6. -Costs for Making Biochar from Forest Residue (Vermont University)
      "Forest and mill residues are a promising source of biomass feedstock for the production of bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts. However, high costs of transportation and handling of feedstock often make utilization of forest residues, such as logging slash, financially unviable."

  7. -Forest Biomass Available (BioenergyConnection.org) star
      "Density has increased from 70 trees per acre in the early 1900s to 400 trees per acre with high mortality, while timber harvest has decreased 90 percent in the last 25 years."

      "Annually, 230 million tons of the 24.4 billion tons of standing forest biomass is harvested each year, less than 1 percent of available biomass and less than 60 percent of annual growth."

      "With wildland fire suppression costs consuming about 40 percent of the Forest Service budget, it is easy to understand why states are considering woody bioenergy a viable option." 04-15

  8. -Income From Biofuel vs Biochar (BiofuelsDigest.com)
      KiOR states: "Our proprietary catalyst systems, reactor design and refining processes have achieved yields of renewable fuel products of approximately 67 gallons per bone dry ton of biomass, or BDT, in our demonstration unit that we believe would allow us to produce gasoline and diesel blendstocks today at a per-unit unsubsidized production cost below $1.80 per gallon, if produced in a standard commercial production facility with a feedstock processing capacity of 1,500 BDT per day." Editor's Note: This seems to say that one bone dry ton of biomass can yield $120 in income as a biofuel. Biochar, in contrast, one bone dry ton of biomass can yield $180 (wholesale) for biochar plus biofuel that can be sold.

  9. -Large Scale Biochar Production: Air Curtain Destructors (U.S. Forest Service) star
      "They are used in forest fuel management and wildfire mitigation efforts, in the construction industry to reduce debris from land clearing and demolition operations, and at landfill sites to maximize costly space by reducing wood waste and similar burnable waste streams."

      Editor's Note: Air curtain destructors may be configured to pyrolyze wood waste inexpensively to create biochar with minimal smoke (particulates) and emissions. Instead of incinerating the waste to ash by blowing air into the wood, the blowers will need to be repositioned to blow over the wood and the process will need to be ended, possibly by spraying water, to leave biochar instead of ash. Since air curtain destructors are designed to produce ash, not biochar, it should be noted that spreading ash on agricultural or forest land may be a problem as it increases the soil's pH and potassium. 02-16

  10. -Large Scale Biochar: Air Curtain Destructors Costs Compared to Chipping Waste (AirBurners.com)
      "For a comparison of the commercial or cost related aspects of the two methods (next section), the most important single distinction is the fact that the air curtain burner offers an end solution for wood waste disposal whereas the grinder offers only an interim process facilitating the transport of the woody debris. This process does not eliminate the waste, as the air curtain burner does."

      "You could look at it as a pollution control device for open burning."

      A chart suggests that processing 100 tons of woody waste with an air curtain destructor will cost a little over $150 compared to $5,600 for chipping the waste and then hauling it to a landfill.

      Editor's Note: An air curtain destructor can be modified to produce primarily biochar or biochar and electricity. Since air curtain destructors are designed to produce ash, not biochar, it should be noted that spreading ash on agricultural or forest land may be a problem as it increases the soil's pH and potassium. 02-16

  11. -Measurements and Conversions for CO2 in Trees (Forestry.state.al.us)
      Provides measurement information to determine the CO2 available from trees, including the slash (waste). 04-15

  12. -Mobile Pyrolysis of Biochar in Forests (BiomassMagazine.com)
      "There is a considerable amount of research on the beneficial use of bio-char in soil health, as well as carbon sequestration and remediation. While bio-oil and syngas also have distinct opportunities of their own, market penetration of pyrolysis technology in the biomass industry is in its infancy. The demonstration of WRT and Amaron Energy's mobile pyrolysis technologies confirms the arrival of commercial mobile pyrolysis options, offering the industry an opportunity to perform a portion of the biomass-to-energy conversion process near the harvest location, and alleviate adversities that hinder the advancement of the biomass industry." 02-16

  13. -Personal Carbon Footprint Calculator (Carbonify.com)
      Estimates how many tons of CO2 you emit into the air each year and how many trees it would take to absorb your emissions.

  14. -Reducing Tree Stresss from Transplanting and Drought with Biochar (ForestBusinessNetwork.com)
      "Biochar, a charcoal-like substance created by pyrolysis (high-temperature, low-oxygen burning) of green waste, has potential to protect trees against stress, according to trials by Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory, part of Reading University."

      "These found that young horse chestnut trees replanted in poor clay soil showed higher leaf chlorophyll content and improved photosynthetic efficiency of up to 12.5 per cent over two growing seasons, with superior results from a more granular biochar compared a powdered form." 02-16

  15. Amazon River Emits Carbon Dioxide From Woody Waste (Washington.edu)
      “ 'We’ve found that terrestrial carbon is respired and basically turned into carbon dioxide as it travels down the river.' " 05-15

  16. Biochar Solution for Forests (Biochar-US.org)
      "Forest fires burn an average of 1.5 billion tons of fuel per year in the U.S. alone, emitting almost 5 metric tons of greenhouse gases per acre! To reduce the intensity and spread of these fires, the U.S. Forest Service conducts fuel reduction projects on over a million acres of public lands per year, removing over 100 million tons of biomass." 11-15

  17. Biochar Solution for Forests (U.S. Forest Service)
      "National Forests in the West are overgrown and vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires and attacks by insects and disease. Drought and conditions associated with climate change exacerbate the problem and further contribute to deteriorating forest health. Treatments to thin the forests, decrease fuel loads, and clear out insect- and disease-killed trees have proven expensive. Because there are few markets for small roundwood and virtually no markets for residual material, such as tops, limbs, etc., many timber sales are judged by potential bidders to be economically infeasible. When treatment projects do get carried out, slash piles of residual material are often burned on site, contributing to smoke, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions."

      "The use of woody biomass to produce value-added products, especially from residual materials of biomass removal and wood processing, enhances the feasibility of biomass removal and thus forest treatment projects. One way to convert woody biomass into a useable material is through pyrolysis, a process in which organic matter is heated rapidly to high temperatures with limited or no oxygen." 11-15

  18. Burning Slash at High Temperatures on Site (Airburners.com)
      "Air Burners Systems are being employed for forest fuels reduction in an effort to mitigate the dangers of wildfires, especially in the urban-wildland interface areas, often replacing expensive chippers, or working in conjunction with them."

      Editor's Note: Both burning and burying allow the waste to release its carbon dioxide back to the air. If forestry departments pyrolyze the waste instead of burning it, the carbon in the slash would be chemically converted to a solid and not released back into the air as CO2. The carbon in the pyrolyzed material would become biochar, a valuable soil amendment. 12-14

  19. Burying Slash Instead of Burning (FS.Fed.us)
      Provides a cost analysis comparing burial of slash with burning slash.

      Editor's Note: Both burning and burying allow the waste to release its carbon dioxide back to the air. If forestry departments pyrolyze the waste instead, the carbon in the slash would be chemically converted to a solid and not released back into the air as CO2. The carbon in the pyrolyzed material would become biochar, a valuable soil amendment. 12-14

  20. Decomposition in Western Forests (MIT.edu)
      The article states that "...the natural decay of organic carbon contributes more than 90 percent of the yearly carbon dioxide released into Earth's atmosphere and oceans. Understanding the rate at which leaves decay can help scientists predict this global flux of carbon dioxide, and develop better models for climate change. But this is a thorny problem: A single leaf may undergo different rates of decay depending on a number of variables: local climate, soil, microbes and a leaf's composition. Differentiating the decay rates among various species, let alone forests, is a monumental task." 05-15

  21. Predicting Slash Weight in Western Conifers (FS.Fed.us)
      Provides a weight analysis. 06-15

  22. Wood Decay Releases Carbon Dioxide (Washington.edu)
      “Wood decay is the biological process by which cellulose and lignin, the two most abundant organic compounds on Earth, are converted to carbon dioxide and water with a release of energy to maintain forest processes." 05-15

Research
  1. Biochar Solution for Forests (New York Times)
      "Thick logs, sold as lumber, can yield a tidy sum. But the scrawny and diseased trees that come from forest treatments have few commercial uses -- a major problem, since thinning an acre of land can cost as much as $2,000, according to Duda [forest management supervisor for the Colorado State Forest Service]."

      "Many private landowners and public agencies resort to burning the waste wood, which also sends C02 emissions up to the atmosphere, albeit in a controlled way. Other projects have worked to chip the wood and use it primarily as a source of electric energy or heat."

      "Duda, instead, has partnered with a Colorado-based company, Biochar Engineering Corp., on a pilot experiment that has the potential to instead keep more carbon on the ground, fertilize soils, and earn back money at the same time." 06-09

  2. Decomposition in Western Forests (New York Times)
      "This paper discusses: (1) organic matter accumulations in western forests, including coarse woody debris (CWD), (2) organic matter decomposition rates, including the effects of clearcutting, (3) physical, chemical, and biological factors influencing decomposition rates, and (4) nitrogen dynamics in decomposing substrates. Decomposition rates are much higher in coastal forests (k = 0.27-0.44 yr-1 for Douglas-fir needles) than in inland forests (k = 0.05-0.14 yr-1 for pine needles). Decomposition rates for woody substrates are one to two orders of magnitude slower depending on their size. Needle decomposition rates are increased by clearcutting. Nitrogen release from a substrate is related to its decomposition rate and N may be immobilized for a long time in CWD." 05-15

   
   


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