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LCA of Biochar- How feedstocks and production systems stack up

Maureen Puettmann
WoodLife Environmental Consultants
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PDF icon 2.1.3 Puettmann, Maureen.pdf5.26 MB
Abstract: 

Biochar as defined by the International Biochar Initiative is “A solid material obtained from thermochemical conversion of biomass in an oxygen-limited environment.”  Biochar can be described as a charcoal-like substance that contains a 50 percent or higher content of recalcitrant carbon by dry mass. Biochar production systems were analyzed as part of the Waste to Wisdom project aimed at converting wasted forest residues into renewable and bio-based products. The scope of this study was to develop a gate to gate life cycle assessment for biochar processing including a life cycle impact assessment to evaluate the environmental footprints from harvest to the thermochemical conversion of biomass into biochar (product manufacturing). This study will then be linked to upstream processes for residue collection and processing and downstream processes for determining the ecological benefits of using biochar as a soil amendment.  Sensitivity analysis was performed on 7 input feedstocks with different contaminants and comminution methods based on mass of biochar production. Carbon footprint as well as other environmental indicators were reported for biochar production over the range of feedstocks.  In addition, LCA models were developed for other biochar production systems for comparisons on biochar production when resources and energy inputs vary.

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