Benefits & Uses of Biochar

Session Title

Biochar in Renewable Energy

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B&U Session 6 - Huggins.pdf (2755 kB)
Tyler Huggins

B&U Session 6 - Rao.pdf (1459 kB)
Meghana Rao

Location

CC 101

Start Date

15-10-2013 3:15 PM

End Date

15-10-2013 5:00 PM

Session Description

Microbial Fuel Cell – M. Rao, high school student

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0Rdrf7tkHA

This novel research studies the performance of biochar cathodes. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have the potential to contribute to the increasing demand for sustainable energy. Large-scale application of MFCs is yet to be implemented because of low power generation and high electrode costs. Currently, one of the largest obstacles is the development of a feasible and environmentally friendly cathode. Platinum catalyst cathodes are expensive and make up 60% of the cost of microbial fuel cell. The goal of this research was to determine if biochar, pyrolized organic matter that is a soil amendment, could operate as a feasible cathode in a microbial fuel cell.

Biochar was made out of three feedstocks: mixed wood chips, Douglas fir, yellow pine at different temperatures. By cost, the biochar cathode was 98.4% cheaper than the platinum cathode ($22-44 vs. $1500). The cost effectiveness of the biochar cathode makes it potentially viable if its current densities can be increased. Future research involves testing a broader variety of feedstock as well as developing a biochar/platinum hybrid.

Microbial Fuel Cell – T. Huggins, University of Colorado

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45ZNVtpv-40

The high cost of electrode materials is one major challenge facing the full scale application of the microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology. We demonstrate here for the first time that high temperature (>800°C) biochar can be a cost effective and sustainable alternative to traditional granular activated carbon (GAC) and graphite granules (GG) as MFC electrode materials. Using locally available waste-biomass, exothermic manufacturing process, and end of life agricultural benefit, biochar can be manufactured for around 51-365 US$ tonne-1, up to 10 times cheaper than GAC (500-2500 US$ tonne-1) or GG (500-800 US$ tonne-1) and have significantly greater life cycle advantages. The use of biochar as the MFC anode rings in a new era of alternative electrode material options with economic and environmental benefits.

Bio and Photo

Meghana Rao is a student at Jesuit High School in Portland Oregon and is the Founder and Director of PortlandJuniorScientists.org

Mitchell Tyler Huggins is the Co-founder/Senior Sustainability Engineer at Full Sustainability Consulting, a Research Bioengineer for the U.S. Department of Defense, and a Research Engineer at the University of Colorado Denver focusing on clean tech development in water/wastwater treatment, environmental remediation and bioenergy production.

 
Oct 15th, 3:15 PM Oct 15th, 5:00 PM

Biochar in Renewable Energy

CC 101

Microbial Fuel Cell – M. Rao, high school student

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0Rdrf7tkHA

This novel research studies the performance of biochar cathodes. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have the potential to contribute to the increasing demand for sustainable energy. Large-scale application of MFCs is yet to be implemented because of low power generation and high electrode costs. Currently, one of the largest obstacles is the development of a feasible and environmentally friendly cathode. Platinum catalyst cathodes are expensive and make up 60% of the cost of microbial fuel cell. The goal of this research was to determine if biochar, pyrolized organic matter that is a soil amendment, could operate as a feasible cathode in a microbial fuel cell.

Biochar was made out of three feedstocks: mixed wood chips, Douglas fir, yellow pine at different temperatures. By cost, the biochar cathode was 98.4% cheaper than the platinum cathode ($22-44 vs. $1500). The cost effectiveness of the biochar cathode makes it potentially viable if its current densities can be increased. Future research involves testing a broader variety of feedstock as well as developing a biochar/platinum hybrid.

Microbial Fuel Cell – T. Huggins, University of Colorado

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45ZNVtpv-40

The high cost of electrode materials is one major challenge facing the full scale application of the microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology. We demonstrate here for the first time that high temperature (>800°C) biochar can be a cost effective and sustainable alternative to traditional granular activated carbon (GAC) and graphite granules (GG) as MFC electrode materials. Using locally available waste-biomass, exothermic manufacturing process, and end of life agricultural benefit, biochar can be manufactured for around 51-365 US$ tonne-1, up to 10 times cheaper than GAC (500-2500 US$ tonne-1) or GG (500-800 US$ tonne-1) and have significantly greater life cycle advantages. The use of biochar as the MFC anode rings in a new era of alternative electrode material options with economic and environmental benefits.