The Big Deal About Biocarbon

Interest in the value and versatility of biocarbon has been steadily growing and is at an all-time high.
By Anna Simet | April 18, 2022

I write this note just shortly after my return from the International Biomass Conference & Expo, which was held in Jacksonville in mid-March. Of the most popular and well attended sessions at the event were the ones focused on biochar, biocoal and pyrolysis. That wasn’t a surprise—interest in the value and versatility of biocarbon has been steadily growing and is at an all-time high, which led us to pursue our page-20 feature and cover story, “A Focus on Pyrolysis Coproducts.” In it, freelance writer Susanne Retka-Schill interviews CHAR Technologies CEO Andrew White, who developed a high-temperature pyrolysis technology as a graduate student at the University of Toronto. After successfully building and operating a London, Ontario, demonstration-scale plant that uses anaerobic digestate as a feedstock for biocarbon, the company has launched numerous, multiproduct projects that are in various stages of development. One is colocated at a biomass power plant in Quebec, and another near Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Both will produce biocarbon and upgrade syngas to renewable natural gas (RNG), which White says is a financing-friendly strategy. He tells Retka Schill, “You can’t get long-term contracts for biocoal, but we can get long-term, fixed contracts for RNG ... so that’s what you can build your project financing on.”

As for other features in this issue, another topic I’m seeing a lot about is hydrogen. I attended an interesting webinar sponsored by the Renewable Natural Gas Coalition, during which Bayotech’s Stewart Stewart discussed the current hydrogen market and its potential, how RNG-based hydrogen stands up to other transportation fuels in terms of efficiency and emissions, and Bayotech’s efforts to build out regional hydrogen hubs. You can read the story, “From RNG to Hydrogen,” on page 26.

We have a good mix of contributions to offer this quarter, with topics ranging from live monitoring of biogas and biomethane, increasing fan and blower reliability at biomass energy plants, the value of investing in project management tools, opportunities in biochar and carbon capture and sequestration, as well as a section dedicated exclusively to biogas and RNG-related news. In the previous issue, this was focused renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, and we plan to rotate the topic of this new section in each issue. We will focus on wood heat next time, so if you have some company news to share, whether you’re a  producer, equipment manufacturer or feedstock provider, I’m happy to include it—reach out to me any time.

Author: Anna Simet
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