IRSI BlogSharing our installations, case studies and knowledge.
Graphene is a material with a multitude of industrial applications. It consists of a single layer of carbon atoms in a hexagonal lattice that can be used in concrete or asphalt, solar cells, LEDs, touch screens, sporting equipment, and energy storage. Currently one of the biggest issues facing the graphene industry is production methods to produce large enough volumes. A new method of producing graphene, called flash graphene, promises to produce sufficient quantities to drive commercial applications of the material.
Graphene can be made from anything with a high carbon content. Waste plastics, petroleum products, wood clippings, food waste or biochar are all candidates for producing quality graphene. Our raw biochar is a great precursor for graphene production as it has an abundance of carbon in a readily available form. Our raw biochar is renewable, produced from waste materials, and is consistent enough to ensure repeatable results. We look forward to exploring all of the new and expanding markets for our biochar in the near future.
Biochar has shown strong potential as an organic growth medium for the growing cannabis sector. The porous structure of biochar allows for the cultivation of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and various microorganisms that help support plant growth. Unlike some other growth mediums, biochar has the added benefit of being organically produced in a local, sustainable fashion. These attributes make biochar a great option for cannabis. In fact, Adam Drury, a writer for Benzinga Cannabis, in one of his most recent articles lists a biochar blended soil as being one of the top 5 soil mixes for growing cannabis.
Here at IRSI, we have just received certification by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) to sell our biochar as an organic soil amendment. Initially we will be selling raw biochar for people that want to create their own soil blends, and we have future plans to produce a biochar soil mix for people that want a ready to plant solution.
In a recent article published in the Edmonton Journal (https://edmontonjournal.com/life/homes/gardening/garden-hits-myths-gardeners-embracing-biochar-trend-in-2020), horticulturist Jim Hole talks about the various benefits of biochar as an additive to potting soils. Combined with high nutrient materials like potting soil, biochar can act like a sponge, soaking up water and nutrients and retaining them long after they would normally get washed away. Biochar also acts as a long-term carbon sink, keeping carbon atoms locked in the soil for thousands of years. From both a grower’s perspective and an ecological perspective, biochar just makes sense!
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.
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!
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.