268855 Biochar Characterization As Part of the Biomass Thermochemical Processing Platform

Sunday, October 28, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Catherine E. Brewer, Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Slow pyrolysis, fast pyrolysis and gasification are thermochemical processes to produce fuel and chemicals from biomass. The char co-products from these processes have much potential as biochars: sustainably produced biomass charcoals used for amending soils and sequestering carbon. As biochar properties vary significantly with feedstock and reaction conditions, biochar characterization is critical for understanding these variations, for obtaining meaningful data from biochar agronomic studies and for determining the most beneficial and economical application of a given char co-product (fuel, sorbent or soil amendment). This presentation describes the biochar characterization work I have done for my PhD research in chemical engineering and Biorenewable Resources & Technology (BRT) as part of Iowa State University’s thermochemical processing research group in collaboration with the Departments of Chemistry and Agronomy. The methods used in this research include proximate analysis, CHNS elemental analysis, BET surface area gas sorption analysis, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), FT infrared spectroscopy with photoacoustic detection (FTIR-PAS), solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), cation exchange capacity (CEC), and short-term soil incubations. I will also describe my future research interests in engineering biochar to improve soil water retention in arid agricultural soils, producing bio-oil and biochar from high-lignin feedstocks, decreasing catalyst inhibition in the conversion of sugar from biomass sources into chemicals, and developing mobile pyrolysis systems.

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