Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

pp 1937-1974

Date:

Biochar from Biomass: A Strategy for Carbon Dioxide Sequestration, Soil Amendment, Power Generation, and CO2 Utilization

  • Vanisree MulabagalAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, Tuskegee University Email author 
  • , David A. BaahAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, Tuskegee University
  • , Nosa O. EgieborAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering and Division of Global Engagement, The University of Mississippi
  • , Wei-Yin ChenAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, The University of Mississippi

Abstract

Biochar is a stable form of carbon produced via the pyrolysis of biomass for use in sustainable environmental and agricultural practices. The concept of biochar was originally triggered from the ancient practice in which humans deliberately mixed carbonized biomass into soils to enrich the soil quality and fertility. According to the International Biochar Initiative (IBI), biochar can be defined as “A solid material obtained from the thermo-chemical conversion of biomass in an oxygen-limited environment.” Biomass-derived biochar production has been demonstrated as a potentially viable strategy for developing negative carbon emission technologies for climate change mitigation and also as a material for effective amendment of relatively poor agricultural soils. Most interestingly, ongoing biochar research work has expanded broadly, stretching from its traditional core in the environmental and agricultural science to include studies in the use of biochar for energy generation and as adsorbents for pollution treatment applications. However, the use of biochar for carbon sequestration and soil amendment has attracted more interests by research scientists globally. The use of biochar as a material for soil amendment is closely linked with its potential for climate change mitigation by carbon sequestration. Specifically, the properties of biochar include resistance to microbial degradation and chemical transformations, high surface areas, high water retention capacity, cation-exchange capacity, and its effectiveness as support and substrate for soil microbes. These characteristics endow biochar with a greater potential to become a highly useful source of materials for improving agricultural productivity through soil quality enhancement while simultaneously sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere to mitigate climate change. On a separate front, a recent study of acoustic and photochemical interactions of CO2 with carbonaceous materials seems to warrant feasibility research in the future for exploring novel routes of CO2 utilization and CO2 capture. Moreover, biochar’s ability to absorb electromagnetic radiation and emit far-infrared wavelength radiation has promoted research, development, and commercialization of biochar’s applications in medical and health therapies.