EuroChar: Development of technologies for long-term carbon sequestration
In the context of climate change, it is becoming essential to develop technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. These ‘geoengineering technologies’ include the production of Biochar from plant biomass as a bi-product from bioenergy production systems. The principal goal of EuroChar is to investigate carbon sequestration potential of this biochar, assessing the stability of the char following field application and identifying the mechanisms underlying increased crop yield following application of char.
EuroChar project will investigate carbon sequestration potentials that can be achieved by transforming plant biomass into charcoal or biochar and add that to agricultural soils.
Phyto-toxicity tests will be made using a model plant called Arabidopsis thaliana in controlled environment rooms. Biochar will be applied at different rates in order to access the toxicity of biochar on plant development and to identify genome-level mechanism responsible for stimulated crop yield. Two types of biochar will be used from two industrial partners from Germany and Italy using thermochemical (TC) or hydrothermal carbonization processes (HTC) that can produce energy and store 15 to 20% of the Carbon originally contained in the biomass.
Three large-scale field experiments will also be made in Italy, France and the UK to analyse the ‘realistic scale’ application of biochar. A set of measurements has been designed to understand the fate of carbon in biochar and the potential of biochar to lead to long-term sequestration of carbon into soil pools. Specific measurements will be made to investigate the effects of Biochar addition on soil efflux of non-CO greenhouse gases. Measurements will also include the quantification of additional potential effects of Biochar on soil fertility, soil biodiversity and crop productivity. A full Life Cycle Analysis – LCA – will also be made in the project to assess the carbon footprint of this novel technology.