UK Biochar Research Centre
Charchive Standard Biochars

Biochar production

Thematic Strategy:
Production
Key Staff:
Dr. Ondřej Mašek, Dr. Peter Brownsort, Kyle Crombie , Jason Cook, Audrey Roy-Poirier

 

UKBRC Bespoke Biochar Development and Production Facilities

Using our small, medium and large pyrolysis units in the biochar labs, we aim to understand how the conditions of production affect biochar carbon stability, the suitability of biochars for enhancing soil processes, and the composition and properties of the gaseous and liquid products of pyrolysis.

Development of the “bespoke biochar” concept in UKBRC labs has made considerable progress, particularly on the screening of biochar. On the development and production side, our ongoing strategy for bespoke biochar production research consists of three stages.

Stage I: is a lab-scale batch pyrolysis unit capable of producing up to 30 g of biochar per batch. The unit can operate either in a fixed bed or fluidised bed mode and allows us to control precisely the key operating parameters (temperature, heating rate, residence time etc.) and monitor and record its performance.

 

Stage II: is a continuous bench-scale pyrolysis unit able to produce up to 2 kg of biochar per hour. This unit also allows precise control of the operating conditions and is flexible in terms of feedstock and throughput.



Stage III: is a pilot-scale slow pyrolysis unit capable of producing up to 20 kg of biochar per hour in a continuous mode and housed in a purpose built, dedicated new building. Due to its multi-zone electric heating, the unit allows for very good control of the production temperature and heating rate even at this relatively large scale, and is crucial for our efforts in scaling up bespoke biochar production.

 

Farm-scale unit: We also have a prototype pyrolysis unit commissioned as part of a PhD research project on a working arable farm in East Lothian. It is a batch process unit taking up to 100kg of feedstock at a time. A diesel burner heats the reaction chamber which is fitted with a thermocouple for process temperature control and a mechanical auger for feedstock agitation and biochar removal. A water cooled condenser allows separation of syngas and bio-oil.

 

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