Thursday, 1 July 2010

Biochar rocks! Incinerator blocks!

Biochar is  making more news. It will probably be a significant part of reducing carbon intensity in the future.

Biochar is a result of pyrolysing biomass such as wood, agricultural waste or indeed anything organic to form biogas (which is functionally equivalent to natural gas) for power generation leaving a residue of "charcoal". We specified pyrolysis/gasification plant in the scheme that myself and some of the other incinerator-alternatives campaigners put forward to avoid Jersey making the gigantic mistake that our ridiculously limited incinerator-friendly bureaucracy and politicians ended up making. The result? An appallingly ugly eyesore, currently being built, is rearing over and blocking the view of the, until now fairly scenic, South coast of Jersey.
The first two images are mock ups done by the Save our Shoreline group before building started.

These next two were taken today from the “Rocher des Proscrits” (rock of the outcasts) where Victor Hugo used to muse over his exile.
incin close up

This last was taken from near the Victorian'ish Havre des Pas bathing pool
 incin bathing pool

So, we have a huge eyesore that cost about twice as much as our alternative, superior scheme - also, we haven't got more advanced technology to deal with and convert our non-recyclable waste to energy whilst we wait for the inevitable drop-off in disposable waste, that waste reduction, redesign and re-use initiatives will create, which would have left spare capacity in the plant in future that could have been used to create synthetic diesel and biochar. Biochar remediation of agricultural soils holds out the simultaneous benefits of being carbon negative (carbon is returned to the soil in the process, rather than it all being exhausted to the atmosphere) and increasing the long term fertility, moisture retention and structure of the soil.

Plans to build Australia’s first commercial biochar plant (see link here) are afoot and, also in Oz, here is Agrichar whose tests indicated a doubling or even tripling of biomass yield in treated soils.


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