DOE develops biomass in Colombia

By Lisa Gibson
Posted April 29, 2010, at 3:40 p.m. CST

As part of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, the U.S. DOE and some of its national laboratory experts will team up with scientists and technology experts in Colombia to optimize the production of biochar from palm residues and sugarcane for power generation.

The project, titled "Forming a Research, Development and Innovation Hub with Expertise in the Sustainable Energy Use of the Biomass in Colombia," is still in the early stages and the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Colombian consortium are currently in the process of developing a technical plan.

The Colombian government is developing the project, chosen for participation in the DOE's Low Carbon Communities of the Americas initiative because of its potential for broad application of results; strong financial and political support from the Colombian government; and the technical qualifications of the team, according to a DOE spokeswoman.

The conversion of agricultural waste such as sugarcane and palm residues to biochar can not only be used to generate electricity, but the byproducts can be used as an additive to improve the quality of soil while at the same time providing a long-term means of sequestering carbon dioxide, according to the DOE. More details of the project will be released in the coming weeks, according to the spokeswoman.