The University of Nottingham is to lead the world’s largest trial to evaluate the viability of a material called biochar to store carbon from the atmosphere to counter the impact of climate change.
The £4.5m project is one of five UK Research and Innovation-funded demonstrators investigating the adoption of Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) technologies to cut CO2 emissions at a scale that may help the UK reach its net-zero target by 2050.
Work on the 4-and-a-half-year project began on 1 May 2021 and field trials will be conducted at arable and grassland sites in the Midlands and Wales, as well as former mines, railway embankments where engineering work has resulted in loss of vegetation, and woodlands across England and Wales.
Biochar is a charcoal-like substance, produced by heating organic biomass from agriculture and forestry waste in the absence of oxygen (pyrolysis) to make it carbon-rich and chemically-stable. At present, in the UK, it is produced on an extremely small-scale in kilns and it is mainly sold as a mulch for horticulture.
Compared to commercial-grade charcoal we use on BBQs, biochar is similar but, ideally, should be produced at higher temperatures to produce carbon that will be stable over hundreds of years. However, its effectiveness, cost,
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