Sharing our installations, case studies and knowledge.

Biochar Plot Trials

IRSI has supplied biochar produced in Drayton Valley at the Ulysses Slow Pyrolysis System to a small scale farmer to see how much of an impact the biochar material can have on the marginal soils in the area. Biochar has a litany of benefits in soil and range from increased water retention to reduced compaction. The work with Michelle Bossert outside Drayton Valley has had multiple biochar blends produced, including: soil/biochar, soil/biochar/humalite, soil/compost/biochar, and a controlled soil. IRSI will use the findings from this case study to begin working out the key ingredients for a high quality super soil with a biochar component.

Approximately 100 pots have been planted with a variety of biochar blends and IRSI will be working with Michelle to test the soil blends at the end of the season. As biochar becomes more widely known its value as a soil amendment and carbon sink is becoming more clear. The International Biochar Initiative’s website has a number of useful biochar related resources and reports documenting findings of the materials value as a soil amendment.


We Make Char!

Biochar Production Video

The Ulysses slow pyrolysis system has begun to produce biochar in Drayton Valley, Alberta. The optimization of the Ulysses system is still being fine tuned, but the first batch of biochar produce through the continuous feed slow pyrolysis system to be sampled and tested has been verified to be high quality biochar. IRSI’s biochar has been identified as class 1 material under the International Biochar Initiative guidelines. Thank you to the work done by InnoTech Alberta. IRSI will be taking the findings from InnoTech’s report and moving forward with further optimization of the Ulysses Slow Pyrolysis System.

The middle of February 2017 will see IRSI working with the National Resources Canada for three days completing trial campaigns on bailed forestry debris from a vendor located in Drayton Valley. The goal of these trial runs will be to demonstrate the mass reduction of forestry debris through the Ulysses system as well as testing to verify the classification of the biochar material produced. IRSI is excited to see the results and believes that this could translate into a fruitful relationship for all parties involved.

The Home Stretch

The Ulysses Pyrolysis System’s setup in Drayton Valley is heading into the home stretch! IRSI is very excited to begin the demonstration period facilitating the production of large volumes of Biochar for the Western Canadian market. Alberta Innovates Technology Futures will be on site following the start up of the demonstration period to perform full performance validation and testing on the feedstock and Biochar end product. The framework of the Ulysses demonstration project will showcase the Ulysses’ ability to reduce large volumes of waste material (ex. sawmill wood residue, construction and demolition waste), produce high quality Biochar, produce value-added charcoal for landfills, demonstrate the viability of pyrolysis for heat and power generation, and confirm the value proposition of the Ulysses for waste reduction and Biochar production.

IRSI has a number of interested parties, project developers, companies, and academic institutions excited about the start up of the Ulysses Pyrolysis System. Stay tuned for further developments in the next month.


Biochar 2016 The Synergy of Science and Industry: Biochar’s Connection to Ecology, Soil, Food, and Energy

IRSI is very excited to have been accepted for an oral presentation on the second day of the US Biochar Initiative’s fifth conference. The event, as outlined in their title, is aimed at connecting the academic and the corporate spheres looking for environmental solutions utilizing applications for Biochar in a wide range of areas. Recent reports over the last year have indicated that the Biochar market is going to grow at an approximate rate of 18% over the next five years. IRSI believes that the litany of applications for Biochar will only increase in number as more and more industry players begin to explore and work with Biochar in a variety of scenarios. This eventuality is the direct result of increased production of Biochar, spear headed by systems like the Ulysses. Through IRSI’s demonstration project in Drayton Valley, Alberta, beginning in the next 6 weeks, IRSI will soon be the largest single producer of Biochar in Canada. Very exciting developments to come and IRSI is keen to explore the state of the Biochar market and its key players during this event in August.

The event will be held at the beautiful Oregon State University campus in Corvallis, Oregon from August 22nd to 25th. Please click on the image below for a link to the details for the event.

Student Biochar Project

One of the main issues with the development of the biochar market in North America is the awareness of the general public on the benefits of biochar. The attached link is a class project that can be executed in academic institutions to help students understand the value of biochar and its characteristics. IRSI believes that by exposing younger generations to the benefits of biochar, pyrolysis and similar technologies/processes we will be taking a significant step towards shifting the paradigm in the western world for waste management and agricultural practices.

Student Biochar Project



Climate Leadership Plan

Climate Leadership Plan is a plan set forth by the Alberta government to combat pollution and climate change. The government’s plan was released in November 2015 following public consultations and a report by the Climate Change Advisory Panel. Contained in the plan are key areas that will be focused on including; carbon pricing, coal & electricity, emissions from the oil sands, methane emissions, financial support for renewable, gas emitters regulations, and the Climate Change and Emissions Management Act (CCEMA).

Increasing price of carbon is a governmental disincentive for industry to step away from carbon intensive practices. This is aimed at encouraging innovation to produce solutions to reduce carbon emissions. Coal will be phased out by 2030 and replaced with renewable alternatives. The oil sands will have a limit put on the amount of emissions that can generate per year; currently there is no limit. This, similar to the increased carbon price, will be a disincentive for the oil sands to use carbon intensive practices and will hopefully drive them towards innovative practices that reduce emissions. An overall reduction methane emissions from oil and gas of 45% by 2025 is the aim for methane reduction.

Financial support for renewables as well as the CCEMA plan will drive forward change that will set the foundations for future generations’ energy network.

The Ulysses system nicely fits into a number of these categories and can be a significant contributor to a new energy paradigm. The Ulysses will generate thousands of carbon offsets per year that can be sold into the carbon market. In order to properly phase out coal by 2030 an alternative for baseline power requirements is needed and the Ulysses system can be a part of this by producing electrical and thermal energy through the pyrolysis process. Methane emissions are produced during the natural decomposition of material in landfills and by adding biochar (the end product of the Ulysses system) to the alternate daily cover on landfills methane will be absorbed and removed from the atmosphere.

Financial support for municipalities, landfills, and waste haulers to purchase and implement the Ulysses system throughout Alberta would be a tremendous step towards developing this technology as a viable contributor to the government of Alberta’s goals. Finally, the main tenants of the CCEMA plan revolve around emission offsets, improving processes, emissions performance credits, or fund credits paid into the CCEMF. The Ulysses can play a part in these areas by providing improved processes for utilizing waste and sequestering carbon and other greenhouse gases, by providing offsets for the carbon market and by receiving support from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund for sites throughout Alberta utilizing a Ulysses system.

There is no immediate solution, but IRSI and the Ulysses system are keen to take the first steps towards improving our world for future generations! Come be a part of the of the solution!