Uses of Biochar, Part 5: Possible Industrial Uses of Biochar
PART 5 - POSSIBLE INDUSTRIAL USES OF BIOCHAR
There are many uses for activated carbons (PAC, GAC etc) manufactured from oil, coal and methane gas We believe biochar made from sustainable resources (eg wood) can replace many activated carbons.
Biochar as an air filtration media
Carbon is used in air filtration (eg HVAC, gas vapour streams, scrubbing gas in coal fired power stations).
The functionality of carbon in terms of adsorption depends on the surface chemistry and surface area. There are numerous carbon 'activation' techniques (steam, acids, nitrogen etc) used to alter the carbon for specific applications. Biochar should be tested and efforts made to fully understand the properties of the old carbon and the potential biochar replacement.
Each raw material used to make biochar or activated carbon contains different levels of trace elements that are often carried forward from the organic material into the charcoal and or biochar. For example, wood contains silica, calcium, iron and a host of other trace metals the tree needed to make vital enzymes. The final biochar (or activated carbon) can contain silica and calcium oxide. In most case these trace mineral items will not harm of interfere with carbon use – but this might not be the case. When the charcoal (activated carbon or biochar) is completely combusted (burnt in air), these trace elements convert to non-hazardous oxides and result in a grey/white ash – think of the white powder left after the BBQ burns out!
Biochar for building insulation
Biochar is both porous (holds air) and is a good heat insulator.
Per deodourisation mentioned earlier. Some researchers are looking at building this into house structures,
Biochar as a carbon black – ie a black pigment
The largest use of carbon black is tyre manufacture. It would take a lot of work to ensure quality and consistency, but it could offer and alternative!
The black ink used in photocopiers is a form of carbon black. In our opinion, it is unlikely as the biochar will be used as carbon black. The pigment is incredibly fine particles created during 'gas phase' reactions from oil. Biochar is made from 'solids and comes out as pieces. These bits would require considerable (an most likely uneconomic) crushing to make a very fine micronized powder.