Skip to main content

Biochar mines: Panacea to climate change and energy crisis?


Negative emission technology such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage is extremely important to offset the presence of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Biochar, a solid product obtained from the thermal decomposition of biomass, is a promising pathway for the storage of solid carbon and energy applications. This article proposes the concept of artificial biochar mines as an encouraging negative emission technology through basic techno-economic analysis. Torrefaction at small-to-medium scale proves to be the preferred process for production of biochar from residual biomass with the CO2 sequestration cost in the range of 43–47 $/t. Benefits of the artificial biochar mine include negative emission with positive energy output, residual biomass management, low risk, less storage space, easy site selection, potentially beneficial applications, economically encouraging, and future energy security.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Bar-On YM, Phillips R, Milo R (2018) The biomass distribution on Earth. Proc Natl Acad Sci 115(25):6506–6511

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Basu P (2018) Biomass gasification, pyrolysis and torrefaction: practical design and theory, 3rd edn. Academic press, San Diego

    Google Scholar 

  3. Campbell JL, Sessions J, Smith D, Trippe K (2018) Potential carbon storage in biochar made from logging residue: basic principles and Southern Oregon case studies. PLoS ONE 13(9):e0203475

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. David J, Herzog H (2000) The cost of carbon capture. In: fifth international conference on greenhouse gas control technologies, Cairns, Australia, pp. 13–16

  5. Fellet G, Marchiol L, Delle Vedove G, Peressotti A (2011) Application of biochar on mine tailings: effects and perspectives for land reclamation. Chemosphere 83(9):1262–1267

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Hašková S (2017) Holistic assessment and ethical disputation on a new trend in solid biofuels. Sci Eng Eth 23(2):509–519

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Kung KS, Shanbhogue S, Slocum AH, Ghoniem AF (2019) A decentralized biomass torrefaction reactor concept. part I: multi-scale analysis and initial experimental validation. Biomass Bioenergy 125:196–203

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Lee JW, Hawkins B, Day DM, Reicosky DC (2010) Sustainability: the capacity of smokeless biomass pyrolysis for energy production, global carbon capture and sequestration. Energy Environ Sci 3(11):1695–1705

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Lipinsky ES, Arcate JR, Reed TB (2002) Enhanced wood fuels via torrefaction. Fuel Chem Div Prepr 47(1):408–410

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Liu WJ, Jiang H, Yu HQ (2019) Emerging applications of biochar-based materials for energy storage and conversion. Energy Environ Sci 12:1751–1779

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Mardoyan A, Braun P (2015) Analysis of Czech subsidies for solid biofuels. Int J Green Energy 12(4):405–408

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Maroušek J (2014) Significant breakthrough in biochar cost reduction. Clean Technol Environ Policy 16(8):1821–1825

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Maroušek J, Strunecký O, Stehel V (2019) Biochar farming: defining economically perspective applications. Clean Technol Environ Policy 21:1389–1395

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Minx JC, Lamb WF, Callaghan MW, Fuss S, Hilaire J, Creutzig F, Amann T, Beringer T, de Oliveira Garcia W, Hartmann J, Khanna T (2018) Negative emissions—part 1: research landscape and synthesis. Environ Res Lett 13(6):063001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Mohan D, Abhishek K, Sarswat A, Patel M, Singh P, Pittman CU (2018) Biochar production and applications in soil fertility and carbon sequestration—a sustainable solution to crop-residue burning in India. RSC advances 8(1):508–520

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Stępień P, Serowik M, Koziel JA, Białowiec A (2019) Waste to carbon energy demand model and data based on the tga and dsc analysis of individual msw components. Data 4(2):53

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Tan RR, Bandyopadhyay S, Foo DC (2018) Graphical pinch analysis for planning biochar-based carbon management networks. Process Integr Opt Sustain 2(3):159–168

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Timmons D, Lema-Driscoll A, Uddin G (2017) The Economics of Biochar Carbon Sequestration in Massachusetts. University of Massachusetts, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  19. US Biochar Initiative, 2018, Survey and Analysis of the US Biochar Industry Survey and Analysis of the US Biochar Industry, WERC project MN17-DG-230 ( Accessed 30 Aug 2019

  20. Vochozka M, Maroušková A, Váchal J, Straková J (2016) Biochar pricing hampers biochar farming. Clean Technol Environ Policy 18(4):1225–1231

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Wijitkosum S, Sriburi T (2018) Increasing the amount of biomass in field crops for carbon sequestration and plant biomass enhancement using biochar. Biochar-An Imperative Amendment for Soil and the Environment. IntechOpen, London, pp 1–13

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Santanu Bandyopadhyay.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Thengane, S.K., Bandyopadhyay, S. Biochar mines: Panacea to climate change and energy crisis?. Clean Techn Environ Policy 22, 5–10 (2020).

Download citation


  • Biochar mine
  • Negative emission technologies
  • Climate change
  • Techno-economic analysis
  • Energy security