Biochar production from forest waste for a sustainable recovery from COVID 19


The Future Forest Company is developing a project focusing on producing biochar from forest waste at scale and co-deploying it with reforestation to grow healthy forests that fight climate change. Biochar is a type of charcoal used as a soil amendment that can also sequester carbon. It is made from heating biomass in the absence of oxygen in a process called pyrolysis; the remaining substance is between 50-90% pure carbon that is stable in soil for hundreds of years. This process allows us to sequester carbon that would otherwise have been released back into the atmosphere if that forest waste was left to rot instead. Biochar also significantly reduces the amount of methane and nitrous oxide (other greenhouse gases) released from soil, giving a double benefit from a climate perspective as it is preventing them from being released. It also creates healthier forests; a recent review showed that applying biochar results in the improvement of soil physical, chemical, and microbial properties (Li et al, 2017).

The Future Forest Company buys degraded land, and reforests and restores it into an ancient landscape with super-charged carbon sequestration ability to fight climate change. We own over 2000 acres of land which we are currently re-planting. The beauty of biochar is that it can be co-deployed with reforestation to both sequester more carbon and increase the health of the soils in our forests.

We are building a continuous, high-volume biochar production system that is also modular to enable on-site processing. This will allow us to produce biochar out of excess forestry waste anywhere in the UK that would have been too expensive to transport anywhere else.

The world needs to move away from fossil fuels, but decarbonisation alone is unlikely to be enough to keep below the goal of 1.5 degrees of warming under the Paris agreement. To mitigate the worst effects of climate change we must actively remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere to a scale of 10-15 gigatonnes of CO2E annually, and both reforestation and biochar are on the IPCC's list of six negative emissions technologies that are capable of removing massive amounts of CO2\. Reforestation could remove up to 3.6 gigatonnes of CO2E alone, and biochar could remove an extra 1.8 gigatonnes of CO2E annually.

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