Advantages of the Developed Pyrolysis System
The design of the process allows it to run on a variety of feedstocks, giving it the ability to convert unwanted waste materials such as straw or timber residue, construction and demolition timber, etc. into useful products. In contrast, some other pyrolysers and gasifiers require very specific feedstock (e.g. pelletized biomass or very finely pounded particles) which limits their range of application and can require significant additional cost and energy to prepare.
The process achieves high thermal efficiency, allowing it to operate as a self-sustaining process (whereby heat generated in part of the process is used in other parts), and so the process as a whole does not require any external energy source apart from small amounts of electricity to power the machine itself. This is in contrast to some conventional gasifiers, which can require significant external energy sources.
Fully Automated Continuous Process
A pyrolysis unit is designed to be fully automated, unmanned, and to operate using a continuous process. This is in contrast to many competing char-making systems which use batch processing, often requiring significant work by the operator to manually remove char and add new biomass for each batch. The continuous nature of the process is also a big advantage when scaling up to larger applications.
Uses of Biochar
Biochar is an excellent soil additive, providing organic matter, improving water retention, and reducing nitrogen drawdown. It has been shown to significantly improve soil and plant health in many applications including growing rice, cotton, avocados, barley, maize, mustard, grapes, etc.
Animal Feed Additive
Biochar as an additive to animal feed is an emerging potential market based on known practices in Europe, the USA, and other regions including Australia.
Bitumen mixed with up to 25% biochar has been shown in trials in Australia and other countries to improve asphalt performance, and also sequesters carbon for the long term, offsetting the often-high carbon footprint of construction projects.
As a Fuel
Converting biomass to biochar significantly increases its energy density. For this reason, charcoal has long been used as a high-grade fuel, able to burn cleaner and at much higher temperatures than wood. Biochar can be used in the same way, e.g. for firing in kilns or furnaces.
As a Building Product
Charcoal has successfully been utilised to modify various properties of building sheets, bricks and other building products.
Biochar can be converted to activated charcoal (a.k.a. activated carbon) by using steam or chemical treatment. Activated charcoal is a premium product, meaning this is a significant source of value addition to biochar.