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Title: Biochar from Biomass and its Potential Agronomic and Environmental Use in Washington: A Promising Alternative to Drawdown Carbon from the Atmosphere and Develop a New Industry

Climate change is one of the most serious issues facing the world today. Increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other long-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere continue to warm the planet and destabilize the climate. It has been estimated that the impact from this warming could cost the state 10 billion per year by 2020, and 16 billion per year by 2040. Long-term solutions to the climate problem likely will require that large quantities of CO2 be removed from the atmosphere. In fact, massive CO2 drawdowns from the atmosphere have occurred in earth’s recent past from events occurring in our hemisphere. Studies of those analogs provide insight into the potential magnitude for specific actions to drawdown significant CO2 from the atmosphere. One of these potential actions is the large-scale production of biochar from abundant woody biomass waste and its storage in soils, where it remains stable for hundreds to thousands of years. Moreover, for the carbon emission intensity of Washington’s fuel mix, biochar production from biomass is twice as effective in offsetting GHG emissions as complete biomass combustion of the same biomass. Washington State has large quantities of wood waste biomass that could be purposed for production ofmore » combined heat/power/biochar (CHPB) through existing biomass boilers. We propose to 1) evaluate the quantities of Washington wood waste biomass, 2) inventory existing boiler capacity and assess the technical merits and challenges to repurpose the boilers to CHPB, and 3) apply literature values and analog biochar examples to better quantify the extent of CO2 drawdown that could be achieved in Washington State over the next century using engineered biochar. This white paper explores the potential to replicate the historical drawdowns of atmospheric CO2, a topic the authors think should be part of current climate-change mitigation discussions. This document is a companion to a white paper titled Biochar from Wood Biomass and Agricultural Residues and its Potential Agronomic Use in Washington: A Tool to Improve Irrigation Water Use Efficiency, Energy Efficiency and Sequester Carbon (Amonette, et al., 2016, in preparation).« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  2. Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA (United States)
  3. Washington State Energy Program Office, Olympia, WA (United States)
  4. Washington Dept. of Ecology, Spokane, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Contributing Orgs:
Washington Dept. of Ecology, Spokane, WA (United States); Washington State Energy Program Office, Olympia, WA (United States); Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 09 BIOMASS FUELS biochar; climate change; mitigation; bioenergy; biofuel; carbon sequestration; soil; agriculture; geoengineering; energy