Why biochar? 

Biochar is a stable, long lived, carbon-like product produced from heating biomass in the absence of oxygen (pyrolysis). It is carbon-rich and can be applied to land to sequester carbon dioxide in soils for an extended period of time. Biochar could therefore contribute to Greenhouse Gas Removal targets, which the Climate Change Committee estimates will need to reach 28-35 million tonnes of CO2 removal each year from land sinks to achieve net zero. In addition it may also provide additional benefits as a soil amendment, through increasing the pH of acidic soils, improving water holding capacity, modifying nutrient exchange between plant and soil, and improving soil aeration and structure. 

Objectives

Through large scale biochar deployment to UK soils and wide-ranging engagement with people and businesses, the biochar demonstrator aims to assess the use of biochar for carbon storage in UK soils and help develop robust business models and policy supported by manufacturing, farming, civil society and finance. 

Our Approach

Field trials are underway to deploy over 200 tonnes of biochar produced from virgin wood over the course of the project. These trials will be undertaken at arable and grassland sites, an open cast coal mine, denuded railway embankments, and forestry sites in England and Wales. Trials are expected to last up to 7 years and assess the long-term stability of biochar for CO2 storage, soil health and any co-benefits. Our work is interdisciplinary; conducting social science research and life cycle assessments, in order to understand stakeholder perspectives and create robust business models supported by manufacturing, farming, civil society, and finance. 

Principal Investigator

Prof Colin Snape, University of Nottingham

Research team / project partners

Investigators: Colin Snape (UoN), Helen West (UoN), Carol Morris (UoN), Paul Wilson (UoN), Tim Cockerill (Leeds), Will Meredith (UoN), David Jones (Bangor), Cheng-Gong Sun (UoN), Jon McKechnie (UoN), Philippa Ascough (Glasgow), Tony Hutchings (Forest Research), Dave Chadwick (Bangor), Katja Lehmann (CEH)


Researchers: Tom Bott (UoN), Rob Brown (Bangor), Disni Gamaralalage (UoN), Maria Majka (Bangor), Catherine Price (UoN), Yuzhou Tang (Leeds), Clement Uguna (UoN)


Institutions: University of Nottingham, Bangor University, University of Leeds, Scottish Universities Environment Research Centre, Forest Research, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology