Northern New England should be going whole-hog into production of biochar from low-grade wood – it’s the perfect replacement for the shrinking pulp and paper mill industry. I’ve written about a Maine operation in the past – MaineBiz has an upgrade (here), involving the arrival of big, expensive machinery from Europe to do the work.
Biochar is a granular carbon substance produced when organic matter is decomposed thermally in an oxygen-starved chamber, a process called pyrolysis. It is made from clean wood chips and is over 85% carbon with minimal ash and no contaminants.
The Pyreg technology, plus feedstock from Pleasant River Lumber, is expected to produce a precision biochar suitable for high-value uses, such as the remediation of PFA contaminants and heavy metals in soil and water, according to SBC.
Biochar is also used to remediate non-point-source pollution from agricultural runoff, trapping nutrients before they reach waterways and making them available for reuse. Additional applications include urban stormwater management to improve resilience to extreme weather and promote urban greening.
In agriculture, biochar improves the storage capacity of nutrients and water. When used in bedding and manure ponds, biochar traps nutrients, then releases them gradually in the soil.
And it’s an economical carbon dioxide removal technology, according to the company. Biochar does not degrade in nature, so carbon content is captured for thousands of years.