Current collaboration between the UK and Canada in the area of biochar as an effective way to capture CO2 has been strengthened by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Professor Raffaella Ocone at Heriot-Watt University (UK) and BioFuelNet Canada (BNF) and Bio-Char Network (Bio-Char) in Canada.
Raffaella Ocone, from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, leads the Leverhulme Trust UK-Canada Network on Biochar which started in 2012 involving Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh in the UK and Western University, McGill University and the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.
Biochar, a co-product of thermal processes for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals, offers a viable way to reduce CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and presents an economical alternative to CO2 capture and storage.
Multidisciplinary research in the sustainable production and use of biochar as a long-term storage for CO2 is still in its infancy. Some of the questions which are still unresolved are, for instance, the selection of the sources of suitable biomass, the processing conditions for the production of biochar, and its effects on the soil properties and on plants and microbial species.
The fundamental questions on biochar production and usage are still to be exploited at an industrial scale. Consequently, despite being potentially the most effective way of capturing CO2, basic research on biochar still needs to be undertaken by assembling a multidisciplinary network of scientists and engineers capable of tackling these complex scientific issues.
The network investigates the potential of biochar as a technically and economically effective method of capturing carbon in a stabilised form while, simultaneously, increasing soil quality and thus adaptability of agriculture to climate change.
The new MoU aims to respond to calls for work relating to biochar in the EU and North America. This includes joint research and planning activities for repurposing of industrial facilities.