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Can portable pyrolysis units make biomass utilization affordable while using bio-char to enhance soil productivity and sequester carbon?

Posted date: February 09, 2011
Publication Year: 
2010
Authors: Coleman, Mark; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Archuleta, Jim; Badger, Phil; Chung, Woodum; Venn, Tyron; Loeffler, Dan; Jones, Greg; McElligott, Kristin
Publication Series: 
Proceedings (P)
Source: In: Jain, Theresa B.; Graham, Russell T.; Sandquist, Jonathan. Integrated management of carbon sequestration and biomass utilization opportunities in a changing climate: Proceedings of the 2009 National Silviculture Workshop; 2009 June 15-18; Boise, ID. Proceedings RMRS-P-61. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 159-168.
Note: This article is part of a larger document.

Abstract

We describe a portable pyrolysis system for bioenergy production from forest biomass that minimizes long-distance transport costs and provides for nutrient return and long-term soil carbon storage. The cost for transporting biomass to conversion facilities is a major impediment to utilizing forest biomass. If forest biomass could be converted into bio-oil in the field, it may be more profitable to utilize forest biomass for bioenergy. Bio-oil can substitute for fuel oil, or be used as a crude oil and further refined into additional products. Transporting energy-dense bio-oil is more cost effective than transporting bulky, low-value biomass. In-woods pyrolysis can also address concerns over removing nutrients and carbon from forest sites through reapplication of bio-char, a pyrolysis byproduct, which is equivalent to the charcoal found in all fire ecosystems. Bio-char is 70-80 percent carbon and retains most nutrients contained in biomass. It can be used as a soil amendment to enhance soil productivity through a liming effect, which improves cation exchange capacity and base saturation, increasing anion availability, improving water holding capacity and decreasing bulk density.

Citation

Coleman, Mark; Page-Dumroese, Deborah; Archuleta, Jim; Badger, Phil; Chung, Woodum; Venn, Tyron; Loeffler, Dan; Jones, Greg; McElligott, Kristin. 2010. Can portable pyrolysis units make biomass utilization affordable while using bio-char to enhance soil productivity and sequester carbon? In: Jain, Theresa B.; Graham, Russell T.; Sandquist, Jonathan. Integrated management of carbon sequestration and biomass utilization opportunities in a changing climate: Proceedings of the 2009 National Silviculture Workshop; 2009 June 15-18; Boise, ID. Proceedings RMRS-P-61. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 159-168.