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Waste to Wisdom Webinar: Biochar Production using Forest Residuals

Presenters: Arne Jacobson: Ph.D., Professor, Environmental Resource Engineering, Humboldt State University, and Director, Schatz Energy Research Center; David Carter: P.E., Senior Research Engineer, Schatz Energy Research Center; Mark Severy: Research Engineer, Schatz Energy Research Center.

What you’ll learn

This Waste to Wisdom webinar focuses on the project’s research into the production of biochar from forest residuals and evaluates the potential to operate a biochar production machine at or near forest operation sites. Every year, over 50 million bone dry tons of forest residuals are left in U.S. forests because it is uneconomical to extract. Producing biochar from this resource provides one potential pathway to bring these marginal feedstocks to the market. Biochar, which is a carbonaceous material produced through pyrolysis of biomass, can be used as a soil amendment to increase water holding capacity and decrease nutrient leaching in addition to sequestering carbon in the soil.

More information

In this webinar, engineers from the biomass conversion technologies research team will present results from a series of tests using a commercial-scale biochar production machine with a variety of feedstocks representative of forest residuals. The main testing objectives were to determine the relationship between feedstock and biochar quality and to evaluate the operational and site requirements for this machine. Results show that increased levels of moisture and ash content in the feedstock degrades the quality of biochar and increases the labor requirements of the machine. Secondly, the energy, labor, and site requirements will be described to help stakeholders identify optimal production sites, including a discussion of potential fire hazards and measures to mitigate the risks. Lastly, the researchers will discuss how biochar production might be integrated with other biomass conversion technologies to improve system efficiency. Throughout this presentation, results will be presented that are crucial to understanding where and how biochar production fits into forest harvesting operations, including production rates, feedstock specifications, electrical requirements, and emission data.

About Waste to Wisdom

Waste to Wisdom is an innovative biomass research project funded by a $5.88 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy under the Biomass Research and Development Initiative program: Award Number DE-EE0006297. Humboldt State University and 15 regional partners are building on existing research on the conversion of forest residues into bioenergy and other valuable bio-based products.

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