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Biochar Production & Application

February 22, 2012

Lakeland College is participating in an important research study, with support from Western Economic Diversification Canada and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF), on the many potential applications of biochar.

Biochar is the carbon-rich residue produced by pyrolysis, a process in which organic matter such as agricultural and forestry waste is burned in a low oxygen environment. The resulting substance can be used to improve crop productivity and soils as well as accelerate re-vegetation of uncultivable lands. Further, preliminary studies indicate that biochar has the potential to clean up wastewater in the petroleum sector.

"Our Government is proud to have supported this project which helps promote the standardization of biochar production and application techniques,” said the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. “Through initiatives such as this, we are ensuring Western Canada remains globally competitive while creating an environment that promotes business investment and economic growth.”

“This biochar initiative contributes towards the emergence of a strong bio-economy in Alberta,” said Richard Wayken, AITF General Manager, Bio & Industrial Technologies. “Alberta’s rural-based, small- and medium-sized companies will be able to deploy this green, clean technology to unleash the value in agricultural and forest residues which were once considered waste, and make the most of Alberta’s fibre resources.”

The transportable pilot-scale pyrolysis units will enable Lakeland College’s Centre for Sustainable Innovation (CSI) and industry partners to evaluate the quality of biochar from various feedstocks. Lakeland
will also explore field trials to assess the performance of biochar. This initiative is expected to develop and demonstrate technologies that will enable the large-scale commercial deployment of biochar applications for the benefit of rural Albertans. Further, this initiative will help to establish new markets for biochar products while also generating new employment and capital investment opportunities in the region.

 “This investment and corresponding research partnership with Alberta Innovates- Technology Futures is a perfect fit for Lakeland College as it relates to agricultural sciences, energy, and environmental sciences - three of our four programming pillars,” said Glenn Charlesworth, President of Lakeland College. “The funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada enables us to purchase the equipment needed to produce biochar and ultimately help determine the environmental benefits and applications of this product.”

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