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  • Charcoal To The Rescue!

    2010 - 02.01

    Charcoal or biochar as it is now being called could help slow global warming or at least that it what the experts from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences predict.

    Centuries ago biochar was used by the Amazonian Indians to enhance soil fertility, much like we use fertiliser today. Amazonian Indians mixed a combination of charcoal and organic matter into the soil to improve fertility, a fact that got the scientists interested in studying biochar’s modern potential.

    They found that a mass production of biochar could capture the carbon in the atmosphere that would otherwise end up as carbon dioxide. Kelli Roberts of Cornell University noted that biochar is charcoal that is produced by heating wood, grass, cornstalks and other organic matter in the absence of oxygen. The heat produced drives off gases that can be collected and burned to produce energy. The product at the end of this process is charcoal rich in carbon.

    Research of biochar at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences involved a ‘life-cycle analysis’ of its production and a in depth look at its potential to help fight global warming as well as any possible consequences of using the substance.

    The conclusion of the study was positive. It stated that several biochar production systems have the potential to become an economically viable way of sequestering carbon as well as permanently storing it, while also producing renewable energy.

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