Biochar Plants in the UK

Discussion in 'Renewable Energy' started by Chris F, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    Has anyone got a biochar plant up and running in the UK? These do seem like the next big thing in terms of energy generation and a by-product that is very good for soils.

    There seems to only be a very small supply of biochar at the moment, certainly not enough for even farmscale trials.
     
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  2. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

    Location:
    lancs
    Not biochar but torrefied wood. Same difference but different purpose.
     
  3. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

    Location:
    lancs
    What biochar plant are you looking at because many are very inefficient. I dont really understand the comment of biochar being a by product for use in soils as normally the biochar is turned into charcoal slurry and used as a diesel substitute in a modified diesel generator.
     
  4. Fowler VF

    Fowler VF Member

    Location:
    Herefordshire
    How much biochar do you want? Not sure about the comment about energy generation, but do agree with it being good for soil. We have biochar available as a co-product from another process.
     
  5. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    Biochar is like coral for soils - it great for helping general soil activity (as I understand it). We want enough to run a farm scale trial.
     
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  6. Fowler VF

    Fowler VF Member

    Location:
    Herefordshire
    We produce a couple of tonne per week, as a fine powder. Have a heap of it at present waiting to mix in with the muck tump. Let me know if you want to try some!! tel 07831 803173
     
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  7. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

    Location:
    lancs
    My powder at 20 micron will be far to fine for you. You probably want my torrefied G30 chip prior to being ground. How many tonnes are you looking for. Have you thought of using recycled compressor filter charcoal for your trial.
     
  8. Pond digger

    Pond digger Member

    Location:
    East Yorkshire
    How much to the acre?

    And does it matter what the source wood is?
     
  9. Chris F

    Chris F Staff Member

    Seemingly doesn’t matter what is burnt. Straw is a good option.

    In terms of the rate, no one knows. That why it needs to be trialled.
     
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  10. Pond digger

    Pond digger Member

    Location:
    East Yorkshire
    Surprised that straw would be any good, it’s going to be dust surely? I was thinking that particle size/ structure would be important.
     
  11. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    Location:
    Lichfield
    The ancient Inca’s knew !
     
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  12. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    Location:
    Lichfield
    Doubt it would matter - we are talking about biology on a microscopic scale here
     
  13. Pond digger

    Pond digger Member

    Location:
    East Yorkshire
    Even so, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t an optimal particle size- perhaps sugar grain size?
     
  14. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Location:
    Owaka, New Zealand
    You don't need much, the surface area of a kg of biochar is immense. Hence why it is such a great (stable, safe) habitat for soil life.
    I just feed it to the cattle, for what that's worth, they colonise / activate it with their own rumen biota and then it goes straight out the back. 80% of it will be in the compost, as it's a logistical issue getting them to eat it at grazing without feeders etc - I just put it on their silage when housed, easy peasy.
     
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  15. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Location:
    Owaka, New Zealand
    @Fowler VF , @renewablejohn , how are you making yours? I just use a TLUD kiln made out of a fuel drum, feed it anything from paper to branches too small for the fire.
     
  16. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    Location:
    Lichfield
    what i'm interested in is why anyone would be making it in the UK at the moment ? surely no incentive to make biochar when you get more energy from a complete burn of OM ?
     
  17. bactosoil

    bactosoil Member

    even if someone is producing surely the cost will be the limiting factor, spent a fair amount of time on biochar and worked with a
    company that could make pore specific sized biochar depending on the bacteria you wished to encourage and very clever
     
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  18. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Location:
    Owaka, New Zealand
    Interesting stuff! :cool:
     
  19. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

    Location:
    lancs
    Thermal oil rotary plate dryer of G30 woodchip.
     
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  20. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

    Location:
    lancs
    Definetly not true when your primary outcome is to generate electric. In my process the original torrefication process produces gas which is used in an efficient gas engine to generate electric the waste heat from that engine heats the thermal oil. The torrefied wood is made into charcoal slurry with water and oil seed rape oil then used in a modified efficient diesel engine to generate electric the waste heat from the engine heating the thermal oil. The thermal oil runs the plate dryer with excess capacity put through a thermal oil steam evaporator to produce electric energy from conventionl steam generators. The waste steam is then used to produce more electric from a heat recovery steam generator.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019 at 12:13 PM
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