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Cost effective, constant, and reliable biochar production from organic waste and biosolids

Dario Presezzi
Bioforcetech Corporation
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Abstract: 

The main barrier for a successful commercialization of the biochar is the reliability and constancy of the production. Currently, biochar production is performed by several small businesses (with no constant production, without taking advantage of the pyrolysis potential, and without cutting-edge technology), or a small number of large firms (with big facilities built with massive investments).  BioForceTech (BFT) has designed a pyrolysis reactor capable of reducing the costs of biochar production. Thanks to its design and the innovative process heater, the BFT pyrolysis reactor can work with many different types of feedstock with high moisture content (up to 50%). BFT is now applying this technology in a new plant under construction in Redwood City, CA, at the SVCW wastewater treatment plant. This plant will treat more than 2500 ton/y of dry biosolids. Through this process, the BFT plant will produce around 500/600 ton/y of biosolids derived biochar (BDB), which will be sold for a fraction of the price compared to regular wood biochar. The BDB is a valuable co-product of the biosolids pyrolysis. Pyrolysis of biosolids has several positive aspects, including the production of energy and constant biochar production. Compared with biochar obtained from wood, BDB has a lower organic matter concentration, higher density, and higher nutrient concentration (mostly nitrogen and phosphorus). Tests performed on the BDB by universities worldwide and by BFT showed that the heavy-metal leaching is under detectable limits for the TCLP test and under regulatory limits for the STLC test. Moreover, field trials show that no heavy metals are uptake by plants if treated with BDB. Field trials also show that the application of BDB on crops increases plant growth rate, number of fruits per plant, total organic matter of the plants, and decreases the water and fertilizer needed compared with regular conditions.

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