IRSI Blog

Sharing our installations, case studies and knowledge.

The Many Possibilities of Biochar

In a recent article (https://ariescleanenergy.com/article-biochar-if-you-make-it-will-they-come/) the U.S Director of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence outlined various growing biochar markets. Among the more common markets like soil amendment and livestock feed, Ms. Draper also talks about newer markets like water filtration, composting, and as an alternative for activated carbon. Here at IRSI, we are hard at work commissioning our equipment and getting our site ready for full time operation. Over the next week we will be receiving the final pieces of equipment we need in order to make our process more autonomous. Once we are running full time, we are confident that the consistent quality of our biochar will lend itself well to any of these markets.

The 61S Has Arrived!

We have just received our 61S system from BET! We will be taking possession of the rest of our supporting equipment in the next couple weeks. Once we have all of our equipment in place we will begin the process of commissioning and testing our system. After our commissioning and testing phase, we will be ready to begin producing biochar and thermal energy from various waste streams on a daily basis.

There will be more updates in the near future so check back regularly for further info!

Biochar Shows Potential as a Feed Additive

Two recent studies at the University of Western Australia and the University of Lethbridge are evaluating biochar as cattle feed additive. Over the course of their lives, cattle emit large amounts of methane, both through their manure and through minute-by-minute belching and flatulence. It has been estimated that this methane production accounts for over a third of all greenhouse gas emissions produced by Canada’s agriculture sector. Both studies aim to show that adding a small amount of biochar to the daily feed ration can reduce the amount of methane produced by the animals substantially, as well as increasing the animals’ feed efficiency and increasing their overall bulk.

It is believed that the high porosity of biochar increases the amount of bacterial activity in the cattle’s digestive system. This bacterial activity helps to inhibit the number of microbes that produce methane. In addition to reducing methane produced by the cattle, biochar as a feed additive can improve the health of the soil after the animal has excreted the biochar. Not only does the biochar reduce the amount of methane released from the manure, it helps to improve soil health.

IRSI will be keeping a close eye on both of these studies. We are excited to see another environmentally beneficial use for the biochar being developed and supported in Canada and across the world.

Edmonton Mayor Calls For Drastic Measures to Reduce Emissions

In a recent interview, Edmonton mayor Don Iverson stated that drastic measures would need to be taken in order to meet the city’s emissions reduction goals.

Mayor Iverson also pointed out that this is an economic opportunity for companies looking to innovate with new processes and technologies. IRSI will be at the forefront of companies looking to capitalize on this interest in emissions reduction. With the setup and operation of IRSI’s thermal treatment technologies, we will be able to prevent waste carbon from degrading in landfills. Instead, this carbon will be transformed into various biochar products that will stay stable for thousands of years. Additionally, the thermal energy generated in the pyrolysis process can be used to heat buildings or run additional processes, curbing the need to burn fossil fuels for extra thermal energy. By turning waste materials into biochar and thermal energy, IRSI is doing our part to ensure a greener future.

IRSI Partners with BET

IRSI has partnered with Biomass Energy Techniques (http://biomassenergytechniques.com) to produce thermal energy and biochar in Edmonton. BET’s 61S will be able to handle up to a ton of feedstock every hour, allowing us to process over 100 tons of waste material every week! In addition to keeping this material out of our city’s landfills, we will be turning this waste into useful thermal energy and biochar to be sold in a variety of markets. Work on the needed support systems is running full steam ahead as we prepare for arrival. We are very excited to get BET’s 61S system in place and commissioned in the next few weeks.

Final Plant Pot Trial Update

The close out of the growing season has had some fruitful results for the IRSI biochar blends in Drayton Valley, Alberta. Michelle Bossert had positive results with the biochar blends that were produced, in part, from the Ulysses Slow Pyrolysis System working cooperatively with the Clean Energy Technology Centre. The best combination of ingredients was humiliate and biochar, which had a significant increase in the overall production of the plants. As the season closes out IRSI will sample and test the different soil mixtures to assess the characteristics of each blend and compare them to the plant production. This testing will inform future work by both IRSI and Michelle. Michelle will be planting with the same soils next year to measure the residual positive impact of biochar on marginal soils. IRSI is excited to continue their work next year with Michelle and further promote the value of organic soil amendments!