7. March 2021
Henriette zu Doha
Biochar | Biomass | Co2-Footprint | Waste

Taking respon­si­bi­lity for CO2 from biomass

Biogenic resi­dues, such as those released for disposal in indus­trial processes as well as those that have so far simply been left to rot (e.g. wood cuttings), pose a considerable climate problem: they contain carbon. In conven­tional disposal efforts, this carbon is released into the atmo­sphere in the form of climate-dama­ging CO2.

This is the common carbon cycle. But: We can no longer afford this release of CO2 nowa­days. The global releases are too serious due to rapidly growing forest and peat fires world­wide, as well as the thawing perma­frost soils.

To give an impres­sion of the dimen­sions: Around 44 percent of the waste gene­rated globally in 2016 was organic waste such as food and green waste (Source: Statista 2021). If the global annual emis­sions from food waste – some 3.3 billion tonnes – were released as a single country, that nation would be the world’s third largest polluter behind China and the United States (Source: © Circular – Maga­zine for resource and waste profes­sio­nals 2021).

This is where pyro­lysis comes into play: The carbo­niza­tion of biomass in an oxygen-poor or oxygen-free envi­ron­ment converts about half of the carbon compounds in the biomass into biochar. This carbon-rich mate­rial is highly durable and resists biolo­gical or chemical decom­po­si­tion. Left in the soil or used in other durable mate­rial appli­ca­tions, this biochar creates a carbon sink. This is, of course, provided that the provi­sion of the biomass does not reduce exis­ting carbon stocks.

These carbon sinks, just like refo­re­sta­tion and humus growth, are without alter­na­tive to coun­teract the climate crisis. After all, emis­sion reduc­tions alone are not enough. To achieve the goal of the Euro­pean Union, which is to become climate neutral by 2050, the annual sink volume must increase to at least 850 million metric tons of CO2.

Using the PYREG Stan­dard System PX 1500, an average output of 690 tons of biochar can be produced every year. Incor­po­rated into the soil as a soil improver, this can sequester as much CO₂ per year as 220,800 trees.

PyCCS is evol­ving into a decisive tool for global carbon gover­nance, supporting both climate change miti­ga­tion and the sustainable deve­lo­p­ment goals simultaneously.

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