17 Nov 2009

Biochar role in cutting emissions studied

2:08 pm on 17 November 2009

A newly-established research centre at Massey University will spend the next three to four years exploring the feasibility of using biochar technology to help reduce New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions.

The centre is to produce biochar - a high-tech form of charcoal from material such as wood waste - and lock up the carbon it contains by adding it to the soil as a conditioner.

The centre has been set up with $1 million a year in Government funding.

Chemical engineer Professor Jim Jones has been appointed as a co-director.

He joins Associate Professor Marta Camps, a soil scientist, who will investigate the potential soil benefits of using biochar under New Zealand conditions.

Professor Jones will develop the production technology and the associated bioenergy generation from the manufacturing process.

He says in the immediate future the centre will aim to produce field trial quantities under controlled conditions, and study the effect on the health of the soil.