Biochar vs. Charcoal - A Greener Alternative for Renewable Energy
People in rapidly developing countries face the problems of domestic energy requirements, and this will force increased deforestation, which leads to desertification, drought, and, in extreme cases, famine. Based on current studies, more than 12% of the world’s human-produced greenhouse emissions could possibly be offset by using biochar to amend soil condition and sequester carbon, at the same time or after using charcoal- for low-tech burning and cooking- or preferably switching to clean renewables such as biogas (syngas).
The study also reported that using plant clippings for biochar offsets more carbon than if the same plants and resources were burned to make bioenergy. Moreover, biochar will help in increasing food production as it increases the fertility of the soil.
The desired quality of biochar is that it is a naturally stable carbon sink, but it also increases the fertility of the soil and improves the water preservation ability and soil cat-ion exchange. This eventually increases crop productivity and yield. The decisive goals for producing biochar are that it persists as solid carbon preservation and it can be either used as a feedstock or fuel (through the gasification processes to make syngas).
Image: An experiment that compares turnip seeds sprouted in commercial potting soil, compared to a mix of half potting soil and half biochar. The biochar was made with a pyrolyzing cook stove.