Harnessing and Accelerating Natural Processes
CO2 in the atmosphere is in a state of dynamic equilibrium with carbon stored in the oceans and land. Anthropogenic emissions contribute to this and shift the balance between the various carbon sinks. More than half the additional CO2 remains in the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change and disrupts weather patterns. Oceans take up a further quarter to a third, not least due to their enormous surface area – but increasing CO2 in oceans causes acidification, with potentially damaging effects on corals and shellfish.
By comparison, increasing carbon in the soil can deliver positive benefits in terms of soil quality and plant yields. The top 30 cm of soil stores as much carbon as in the entire atmosphere. However, its net rate of absorption is much slower, not least due to competing carbon release mechanisms such as intensive farming, overgrazing and erosion. Although increasing CO2 in the atmosphere has the potential to improve plant yields, in practice this effect tends to be is dwarfed by rising temperatures linked to climate change that increase evapotranspiration, reducing moisture availability and reducing plant yields. There is a clear need to rebalance carbon levels between soil, oceans and atmosphere.
Using biochar, effectively limitless carbon can be captured in suitable soils around the world under conditions that will enhance soil quality and moisture retention, increasing crop productivity and, in contrast with most other climate mitigation strategies which have a net cost, providing direct value to the local communities where it is applied.
Custom Techniques and Strategies for Every Part of the World
Biochar is a stable carbon substance produced from the pyrolysis of waste biomass, and has been recognized as a potential carbon sequestration medium for many years.
It may be thought of as a more commercially tailored and consistent form of charcoal than has been commonly produced using traditional technologies around the world for thousands of years. Examples such as the Terra Preta soil regions of Brazil demonstrate the longevity of charcoal as a soil quality enhancer and as a net carbon sink spanning many centuries.
Biochar may be produced in a consistent form that has increasingly predictable long-term carbon stability. To date, biochar has not been applied at large-scale as a carbon sequestration option, mainly due to relatively high costs and the difficulty of monitoring its carbon storage and agronomic benefits.
This is set to change. Taking a systems approach to larger-scale integrated bioenergy and stable biochar production with associated agronomic and long-term carbon values, supported via advanced monitoring and data handling capabilities, harnessing economies of scale to the core technological processes via a modular approach, and tailoring local solutions to different soils, crops, climate and local needs by working directly with local communities and experts, permits economically attractive and verifiable solutions to be designed.
Achieving globally material scale
Mitigating climate change requires global-scale solutions. Our approach is based on making commercially attractive solutions that can be adapted to a wide range of market situations, building scale through the widespread distribution of locally attractive initiatives. Global values can be added to local benefits through clearly regulated verification and monitoring procedures linked to advanced communications technologies, collated centrally to ensure consistency and to avoid double-counting. The BionerG system provides a one-stop shop to equip interested parties the opportunity to make a difference. Achieving globally material scale should be the consequence of widespread enthusiasm and demand for the technology, not dependent on political agreements, subsidies and other costly commitments.
Achieving genuine carbon sequestration
Large-scale carbon sequestration schemes such as the capture and concentration of flue gas CO2 from power plants to be stored in underground reservoirs require substantial capital expenditure and are limited to opportunities involving the suitable colocation of major sources and sinks. Unless the power plant is bio-based, the net effect is to reduce the increase rather than to achieve a net reduction in atmospheric CO2. By comparison, the BionerG system puts biomass production and soil at the heart of a much less capital-intensive process, suitable for a far wider range of geographical locations, including more rural and deprived regions.