UK Biochar Research Centre
Charchive Standard Biochars
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UK Biochar Research Centre (UKBRC): An Overview

(updated 31st July 2013)

The UK Biochar Research Centre (UKBRC) is based at the University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences, on the science campus at King's Buildings.

We are undertaking disciplinary and interdisciplinary research on:

See our Publications section for information on our findings to date.

We provide a range of research and advice to companies interested in biochar internationally - please contact Saran Sohi for more details.

Our Centre is also a partner in the Scottish Biofuel Programme. This means that UKBRC can provide free initial advice, expertise and to SMEs in Scotland with potential to integrate biochar with energy capture from pyrolysis and coupled technologies.

Current structure and funding

The UK Biochar Research Centre (UKBRC) was launched in April 2009 under a Science and Innovation award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). led by Prof. Stuart Haszeldine. The Scottish Funding Council provided additional funding to establish research infrastructure. Newcastle University and Rothamsted Research agreed to join University of Edinburgh in developing UKBRC as an alliance.

The EPSRC grant supported the appointment of three academics to develop research activities in three general areas:

A set of distinct projects emerged, with additional appointments made across these areas. Additional funding was secured through research proposals to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Government (Defra, DECC and Dfid) and companies, as well as private benefactors Derek and Maureen Moss.

Our objectives have been to:

2009-2011 Conferences

UKBRC  organised an annual UK Biochar Conference. The first was held in Edinburgh in 2009 (link to working paper 1) and the second in 2010 (link to conference presentations) at Rothamsted Research. The last conference was held back in Edinburgh in 2011 (link to abstracts)

Beyond 2013 - the next phase

It is a measure of the potential for biochar technology, that the number of groups working with biochar has grown so rapidly since 2009. Today there is a wealth of published biochar research from up to 20 research teams active across the UK, as well as the emergence of regional forums such as COST.

A UK grouping to reflect this success and to support strong collaborative bids for larger projects is required. To this end we are seeking to launch either a "virtual centre" or a parallel "research network".

Scoping a "UK Biochar Research Network"

A wider, looser consortium would provide basic and applied research on biochar into the use of bicohar as both a primary input to soils in agriculture, horticulture and forestry, as a mix, and as an ingredient to other products used in these sectors (internationally).

This research can focus on providing the science to underpin the prediction and enhancement of biochar function through the pyrolysis process, establishing the kinetics of biochar carbon storage and behaviour in soil (determinants and synergies), including incremental advantages over alternatives, and a full understanding of risk.

A workshop has been arranged for 29th-30th August 2013 in Edinburgh to discuss these and other possibilities. Members of research teams who would like to be involved should contact ukbrc@ed.ac.uk.

Meanwhile, Simon Shackley has moved on to focus on developing the British Biochar Foundation. This is an organisation to represent the interests of UK companies and organisations involved in biochar deployment and held its own first conference in Oxford during June 2013.