HU2506 | Summer 2008 | Science & The Public Sphere: The Example of Biochar | Terra Preta Nova

Biochar and CO2

24 July 2008
Posted by Michael

One of our ongoing questions is how can creating biochar be considered a carbon-negative process if we’re clearly releasing CO2 when firing our mass in the initial burning process? Jeanne Roberts, in this post on Biochar: A Good Way to Store CO2,” summarizes that process, at least when it comes to burning wood, “as in a forest fire, only part of the CO2 is released, and the rest remains contained in the resulting charcoal…”

She states later in the article that,

Biochar is a carbon-negative addition to soils that reduces total fertilizer requirements, reduces runoff, reduces nitrous oxide emissions from crops by up to 80 percent, and enhances crop yields. The gases produced during pyrolysis can be used as fuel to create more biochar, making the process even more carbon negative.

Other scientific articles support this carbon-negative aspect, but we still need to learn about the effects when burning or smoldering compost, for example, or what some studies refer to as “agricultural waste.”

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