See more from this Session: Biochar Effects On the Environment and Agricultural Productivity: II
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Long Beach Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Lower Level
Pyrolysis is one of the technologies used in converting biomass to energy. During the process about 15-40% of the initial biomass is recovered as biochar. The pyrolysis process alters feedstock composition and chemistry, rendering its components (e.g. carbon, nutrients) less biodegradable and available. As such, the process is also used to convert organic waste into more stable and recalcitrant biochar product, and hence into a more environmentally sound material to be used in soils. The quality of the biochar as soil amendment and its environmental impact are likely to depend on feedstock source, and the pyrolysis processing conditions. In this study we evaluated the characteristics of biochar derived from chicken litter. Chicken litter was processed in slow pyrolysis at 350 and 700 ºC. Chicken litter from additional source was processed in fast pyrolysis at 450-500 ºC. Subsamples of all biochars were further steam-activated at 800 ºC. The biochars were analyzed for dissolved carbon content, CaCO3 equivalent (CCE), mineralogical composition, total elemental analysis, and for water, Mehlich-3, Toxicity Characteristics Leaching Procedure (TCLP; EPA Method 1311), and Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (SPLP; EPA Method 1312) extractable elements. Dissolved carbon content was higher in the fast than in the slow pyrolysis, and it decreased with increase in pyrolysis temperature and with steam activation. Biochar %CCE increased with temperature, and with steam activation (in the case of the 350 ºC chicken litter biochar). Activation resulted in overall increase in macro- and micro- nutrients content, while decreasing their Mehlich-3 extractable concentration (except for K and Mg). The results of the study suggest that pyrolysis processes and biochar management practices needs to be further refined in order to assure agronomically beneficial and environmentally safe use of biochar in soil.