CCM as a Soil Enhancer

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Our system and the product

 

We operate a continuous pyrolyzer that can produce a wide variety of biochars and carbon coated minerals (CCM), which is also called biochar mineral complex (BMC). Based on the end product requirement the process temperature can range from sub 300°C to 700°C. Our pre-pyrolysis system for material preparations include hammering, drying and pelletizing; our post-pyrolysis processing system includes simple water quench and cooling, a light acid wash to increase cation exchange capacity (CEC) and brings the pH down for the alkaline soil, nutrient impregnation, and particle size reduction; we can also mix biochar / carbon coated mineral with animal manure and sterilize or torrefy.

Biochar Is a Valuable Soil Enhancer

Biochars refer to the carbon-rich materials (charcoal) produced from pyrolysis of biomass in the condition of lack of oxygen. Biochar is stable and rich in carbon, used as soil enhancer to improve and maintain soil fertility and to increase soil carbon sequestration. Biochar can endure in soil for thousands of years.

 

It is a 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and increase soil biodiversity. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils to retain nutrients and water.

Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon (terra preta), has led to a wide appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer. It holds carbon and makes soils more fertile. Researches confirm the benefits that include:

  • Reduced leaching of nitrogen into ground water

  • Possible reduced emissions of nitrous oxide

  • Increased cation-exchange capacity resulting in improved soil fertility

  • Moderating of soil acidity

  • Increased water retention

  • Increased number of beneficial soil microbes

Biochar also improves water quality and quantity by increasing soil retention of nutrients and agrochemicals for plant and crop. 

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Raw material: biomass and natural minerals

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The development of Biochar Mineral Complex (BMC, or CCM)

The high application rates of biochar associated with their high cost put farmers in a difficult situation as they could not gain a return on their investment with this amendment in the first few years after its application. To overcome this constraint, the development of artificially aged BMCs that have a higher mineral content, surface functionality, exchangeable cations, high concentration of magnetic Fe nanoparticles, and higher water-extractable organic compounds is required.

 

BMC had a significant effect on the plant growth and nutrients (P and N) uptake in shoots at a low application rate (100 kg ha−1). The increase in plant growth appeared due to an increase in P and N uptake in the plants, which could be partly attributed to the increase in mycorrhizal colonisation and improvement of soil biology. It could also be partly attributed to the high concentrations of:

  1. magnetic Fe nanoparticles that can increase nutrient availability and decomposition of soil organic matter,

  2. labile organic molecules that can be a food source formicro-organisms or signaling molecules that can increase beneficial micro-organisms, germination rates and plant disease resistance, and

  3. acidic functional groups (especially carboxylic acids) that can increase nutrient availability.

 

Source:​https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1002016015300564

Biochar-Mineral Complex and Compost Influences Soil Bacteria and Quality

Biochar can be enriched when mixed with manures, clay and minerals. Enriched biochar is high in exchangeable cations such as; (calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+), sodium (Na+) and potassium (K+); high in plant available phosphorus and it also has a high acid neutralizing ability. Recently, a study by scientists in Australia and China looked at the effects of biochar-mineral complexes (biochar coated with minerals) combined with compost (poultry manure) on soil bacteria, soil quality and some plant growth properties.

Some results of the study

  • Biochar mineral complex combined with compost (BMCO) increased bacteria population and nutrient levels of the soil. They attributed this increase to the presence of compost in the mixture; as organic manure applied to soil increases microbial population.

  • Comparing the compost only treatments to BMCO there was a higher content of total soluble nitrogen, organic carbon, nitrate and available potassium in the BMCO than the compost. In particular, soil nitrate was double the amount in BMCO than in the compost pots. They explained that the increased nitrate levels in BMCO, were as a result of increased soil nitrification caused by the abundance of nitrifying bacteria. Nitrification is a process in the nitrogen cycle which ends with the release of nitrate (the plant available form of nitrogen) in soil.

Source: https://www.permaculturenews.org/2016/11/22/biochar-mineral-complex-compost-influences-soil-bacteria-quality/#:~:text=Biochar%20mineral%20complex%20combined%20with%20compost%20(BMCO)%20increased%20bacteria%20population,population%20(6%2C7)

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Source: Thermochemical Transformation of Agrobiomass into Biochar: Simultaneous Carbo Sequestration and Soil Amendment, by Mausam Verma, et al

Biochar is a Powerfully Simple Tool to Combat Climate Change

The carbon in biochar resists degradation and can hold carbon in soils for hundreds to thousands of years. Biochar is produced through pyrolysis or gasification — processes that heat biomass in the absence (or under reduction) of oxygen.

Biochar and bioenergy co-production can help combat global climate change by displacing fossil fuel use and by sequestering carbon in stable soil carbon pools. It may also reduce emissions of nitrous oxide.

https://www.biochar-international.org/sustainability-climate-change/

 

Controlled charring (pyrolysis) can convert up to half of the carbon in plant biomass into chemical forms that are biologically fixed and stable. Biochar has two-fold higher carbon content than ordinary biomass. Moreover, biochar locks up rapidly decomposing carbon in plant biomass in a much more durable form. Once biochar is incorporated into soil, it is difficult to imagine any change in practice that would cause a loss of the stored carbon.

Source: Thermochemical Transformation of Agrobiomass into Biochar: Simultaneous Carbo Sequestration and Soil Amendment, by Mausam Verma, et al