Bio Carbon or Biochar (Biocarbon)

Our natural energy today is greatly reduced due to human consumption behavior, which not only adds carbon to the atmosphere, leading to global warming, but also disrupts the balance of nature. Biocarbon or biochar (Biocarbon) and torrefied biomass are forms of products derived from biomass or agricultural waste that can be used in a variety of ways. In the past, it was found that indigenous communities in South America's Amazon Basin have been using biocarbon for thousands of years. They utilize plant residues from farmland and animal manure, which are burned into biochar. Additionally, the utilization of torrefied biomass has gained attention in recent years. In addition, the use of biochar has been found in several agricultural areas of America, Europe, and Asia. There are also many research works related to the production and application of biochar in various aspects.

Bio Carbon or Biochar

Bio carbon or biochar is a carbon-rich material made from biodegradable organic substances found in nature or agricultural waste. For example, leaves, branches, grass, rice straw, cassava peelings, husks and corn stalks, animal manure, waste sediment, etc. They undergo a burning process which is temperature-controlled or has minimal air exposure, known as pyrolysis, under oxygen-free or low-oxygen conditions. Pyrolysis can occur through two methods: slow pyrolysis and fast pyrolysis.

Slow pyrolysis, which is a slow decomposition of organic substances, takes several hours, employing temperatures between 350-600 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, fast pyrolysis is a rapid decomposition of organic substances, which takes only seconds, using temperatures ranging from 500-1,000 degrees Celsius. The products resulting from this process consist of bio-oil, bio-gas, and biochar.

Characteristics of Biochar or Biocarbon

The essential attributes and components of biochar or biocarbon are that they are organic substances composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur. They show a higher ash content by weight than other types of charcoal and have a negative charge. Biochar decomposes slowly, has a long lifespan, and won't transform into carbon dioxide because it doesn't come into contact with oxygen during heating. Besides, a crucial property of biochar is its large internal surface area, approximately 10-400 square meters per gram. However, these properties and components can change depending on the type of biomass and various factors involved in the pyrolysis process during biochar production, such as equipment, temperature, and duration.

Utilization of Bio Carbon or Biochar

The utilization of bio carbon or biochar includes various applications in different sectors:

  • Production of renewable energy for the transportation and industrial sectors.
  • Improvement of soil texture, water retention, and nutrient storage capacity.
  • Adjustment of soil acidity and alkalinity.
  • Odor elimination, gas and chemical absorption, heavy metal remediation.
  • Fertilizer in agriculture.
  • Wastewater treatment for heavy metal and chemical removal.
  • Application in biodiesel production.
  • Use as a lightweight additive in brick and cement.

The Difference Between Biochar (Biochar) and Charcoal (Char)

Biochar or biocarbon has a different meaning from general charcoal (Char) in terms of their intended uses. While charcoal refers to general-purpose fuel, biochar serves as a medium for sequestering carbon in soil and improving soil characteristics. Charcoal used as fuel, water filter, or deodorizer is processed at temperatures higher than 700 degrees Celsius. In contrast, biochar production emphasizes clean energy use, avoids chemicals, and is primarily connected with organic farming soil enrichment to improve soil quality. It uses lower temperatures, starting at 400 degrees up to 700 degrees Celsius. This results in biochar with plant-beneficial substances, provides nutrition for microorganisms, can sequester carbon in the soil, and enhances physical soil properties. Due to its characteristics, biochar is granulated, highly porous, and stable solid.

The Difference Between Biochar and Compost

Biochar or biocarbon exhibits a porous nature. When biochar is mixed with compost or manure, it increases the porosity of the fertilizer. These pores help store nutrients from the compost and provide a habitat for microorganisms, assisting in aeration, water diffusion, water retention, nutrient absorption, and decreasing soil acidity. Besides, it also enhances the quality of the compost, lengthening the nutrient release to plants. Research supports that it reduces the composting time and decreases nitrogen release. Therefore, compost mixed with biochar has a higher nitrogen content, reducing the amount of fertilizer used, cutting costs, increasing income, and sustaining higher yield production.