Design, Construction, Testing, and Deployment of a Biochar Reactor: A Student Capstone Project<br />Robert Prins and Wayne...
Presentation Map<br /><ul><li>Biochar Primer
what is biochar?
why should we care?
how is biochar produced?
Student Capstone Project</li></li></ul><li>What is biochar?<br /><ul><li>Biomass that has been processed into a soil amend...
Historical usage dates to 450 BC
Terra preta sites in the Amazon
Recent revival of interest as a carbon sequestration technique</li></li></ul><li>What is biochar?<br />
Value of Biochar as a soil amendment<br /><ul><li>High microporosity (~1000 m2/g)
Low density (0.5g/cc)
High cation exchange rate</li></ul>Feltz, 2010<br />Feltz, 2010<br />
Value of Biochar as a carbon sequestration technique<br /><ul><li>Atmospheric carbon is absorbed by plants
Plant based carbon is unstable, plant decay releases carbon to atmosphere
Biochar can remain in soil for 1000s of years</li></ul>J. Lehmann, “Black is the New Green”, Nature, Vol 442, 10 August, 2...
Biomass to Biochar<br /><ul><li>Gasification of biomass via pyrolysis
Heating in the absence of oxygen
Initial heating drives off water vapor (100 C)
Further heating (~350 C +) drives volatiles out of carbon structure
synthesis gas (H2, CO, CO2 )</li></ul>Glaser, 2007<br />
Development of a Farm-Scale Reactor Project is well suited as a student project<br /><ul><li>Student design, construction ...
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James Madison U - Design, Construction, Testing and Deployment of Biochar Reactor - Open 2011

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  • Pyrolysis refers to heating a material –in this case biomass- past its combustion temperature in the absence of oxygen (so it doesn’t burn)Biochar is essentially the carbon matrix that remains after moisture and volatile compounds are driven off of biomassTerra preta sites (Portuguese for “dark earth”), researched by WimSombroek in the 60’s, include 2m deep sections of soil with significantly elevated charcoal content. It is widely believed that the soil was the product of indigenous soil management in which a “slash and char” technique was employed to improve the soil.It has been shown to improve soil conditionsProduce a valuable product (improve soil conditions, offset need for additional soil amendments)Sequester carbon (carbon structure stays intact for 1000’s of years vs. shorter term decay in landfill)
  • We use pine lumber as a precursor so essentially the biochar we produce is charred wood. The wood structure remains intact during the charring process, although excessive heat would produce ash instead of char. Note the growth rings. Lab experiments with temperature controlled processing as part of a parallel project indicated that we had broad temperature leeway with our feedstock. (400 – 600 C)
  • High microporosity: habitat for soil microbes and mychorizal fungi, host for soil nutrients (less apt to leach out)Low density: promotes root penetration and moisture retentionDensity 0.2 – 0.8 g/cc750 – 1369 m2/g High cation exchange rate: biochar is negatively charged – it is instrumental in the uptake of positively charged cations from the soil to the plant. Cations include nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium which are essential for plant growth
  • Picture shows biochar enriched soil from a long time ago – biochar sites date back to 450 BC
  • Approximate pyrolysis; use the water vapor phase to displace air (oxygen): allows for use of an inexpensive chamber
  • A farm-scale reactor is small enough that students can design and build the whole thingThe scale encourages a low-cost approach that emphasizes readily available materialsThis project dovetails with faculty agendas of biochar related research and production, and provision of hands-on intensive projects for students.
  • During independent study phase “behind the scenes” work went into finding an implementation siteUltimate success of project was built on independent study and faculty activities
  • Wood destined for landfill is used as biochar feedstock and process fuelFeedstock is converted to biocharSyngas from feedstock is used to supplement fuelSome process heat is recovered for short-term use as space heat or pond heat
  • Chamber within chamber designA wood fire in the outer chamber heats the inner chamberAs the biomass (wood) in the inner chamber heats up, water vapor is driven off which displaces the air (and oxygen) in the inner chamberAs gasification occurs, syngas from the wood is plumbed to the fire to supplement the heat sourceRudimentary waste heat capture via water tube on roof (~25 MJ recovered vs. 450 MJ input from 15 kJ/g wood)The biomass is processed to biochar with a net mass retention (fuel source and feedstock) of ~21%Typically 15 kg of feedstock and 15 kg of fire wood are required to produce 7 kg biochar
  • Inner chamber is a 30 gallon barrel ($62) plus $30 for the plumbing suppliesGrate is made of steel stock (flat bar and angle iron) ($50)
  • Block base was donated but cost would be $50Fire brick walls $450Roof plate $105Floor plate $30Door plate $30
  • A thermocouple in the pyrolysis chamber tells the story:Initially the fire heats the chamber contents and drives off water vapor (notice the leveling off near 100 C)Chamber contents continue to heat up until volatiles are driven offNote syngas combustion around door of chamberThis version was prone to heat loss (even with door in place)
  • Syngas pressure in the drum varies.Once the off-gassing process is established the pressure is high and results in jet-like flames. As the process continues and most of the off-gassing has occurred the pressure is reduced and the resulting flames are candle-like.
  • Biochar is likely to offset requirement for additional soil amendments because it is capable of retaining nutrients in its structurePyrolysis process can be approximated using inexpensive approachStudent processor required $800 in materialsDemonstrates - usage of waste stream materials as fuel and feedstock - produces biochar - sequesters carbon from feedstock - potential for process heat recovery as space heat or hydroponic pond heat
  • A thermocouple in the pyrolysis chamber tells the story:Initially the fire heats the chamber contents and drives off water vapor (notice the leveling off near 100 C)Chamber contents continue to heat up until volatiles are driven off
  • A thermocouple in the pyrolysis chamber tells the story:Initially the fire heats the chamber contents and drives off water vapor (notice the leveling off near 100 C)Chamber contents continue to heat up until volatiles are driven off
  • James Madison U - Design, Construction, Testing and Deployment of Biochar Reactor - Open 2011

    1. 1. Design, Construction, Testing, and Deployment of a Biochar Reactor: A Student Capstone Project<br />Robert Prins and Wayne Teel<br />James Madison University<br />
    2. 2. Presentation Map<br /><ul><li>Biochar Primer
    3. 3. what is biochar?
    4. 4. why should we care?
    5. 5. how is biochar produced?
    6. 6. Student Capstone Project</li></li></ul><li>What is biochar?<br /><ul><li>Biomass that has been processed into a soil amendment through pyrolysis
    7. 7. Historical usage dates to 450 BC
    8. 8. Terra preta sites in the Amazon
    9. 9. Recent revival of interest as a carbon sequestration technique</li></li></ul><li>What is biochar?<br />
    10. 10. Value of Biochar as a soil amendment<br /><ul><li>High microporosity (~1000 m2/g)
    11. 11. Low density (0.5g/cc)
    12. 12. High cation exchange rate</li></ul>Feltz, 2010<br />Feltz, 2010<br />
    13. 13. Value of Biochar as a carbon sequestration technique<br /><ul><li>Atmospheric carbon is absorbed by plants
    14. 14. Plant based carbon is unstable, plant decay releases carbon to atmosphere
    15. 15. Biochar can remain in soil for 1000s of years</li></ul>J. Lehmann, “Black is the New Green”, Nature, Vol 442, 10 August, 2006<br />
    16. 16. Biomass to Biochar<br /><ul><li>Gasification of biomass via pyrolysis
    17. 17. Heating in the absence of oxygen
    18. 18. Initial heating drives off water vapor (100 C)
    19. 19. Further heating (~350 C +) drives volatiles out of carbon structure
    20. 20. synthesis gas (H2, CO, CO2 )</li></ul>Glaser, 2007<br />
    21. 21. Development of a Farm-Scale Reactor Project is well suited as a student project<br /><ul><li>Student design, construction and deployment
    22. 22. Low-cost design approach
    23. 23. Meets ISAT capstone project best practices:
    24. 24. Real world problem
    25. 25. Situated in a relevant social context
    26. 26. Includes hands-on work</li></li></ul><li>Student Participation<br /><ul><li>Independent study
    27. 27. 2 students, FA08 – SP09
    28. 28. Biochar investigation
    29. 29. Initial design concepts
    30. 30. Senior Capstone Project
    31. 31. 4 students, FA09 – SP10
    32. 32. Final design
    33. 33. Implementation</li></li></ul><li>JMU Biochar Processor Concept<br />Marier, Austin, Clark, Dick, 2010<br />
    34. 34. JMU Biochar Processor (Gen. 1)<br /><ul><li>Chamber within chamber design
    35. 35. Syngas from feedstock is used to supplement heat source
    36. 36. 21% net mass retention</li></li></ul><li>JMU Biochar Processor<br />21”<br />6 1/2”<br />4<br />13 3/8”<br />5<br />28 1/2”<br />3<br />2<br />3<br />1<br />1<br />20”<br />2<br />4<br />6<br />5<br />
    37. 37. JMU Biochar Processor<br />1<br />36”<br />51 1/2”<br />15”<br />54 1/2”<br />38 1/4”<br />3<br />2<br />4<br />
    38. 38. JMU Biochar Processor Data<br />
    39. 39. Syngas Combustion<br />
    40. 40. Summary<br /><ul><li>Biochar is a valuable soil amendment
    41. 41. Porosity
    42. 42. Density
    43. 43. Cation exchange
    44. 44. Biochar is produced from biomass via pyrolysis
    45. 45. Student project to develop a low cost processor was successful
    46. 46. Produced biochar (21% mass retention)
    47. 47. $800 in materials
    48. 48. Demonstrates win-win-win</li></li></ul><li>Future work (Future Student Projects)<br /><ul><li>Gen. 2
    49. 49. Improve sealing of outer chamber (roof, door)
    50. 50. Improve sealing on inner chamber door
    51. 51. Increase robustness of chamber walls
    52. 52. Improve heat recovery system
    53. 53. Gen. 2.5
    54. 54. Improve heat recovery system</li></li></ul><li>Thank you<br /><ul><li>Questions?</li></li></ul><li>Thank you<br /><ul><li>Questions?</li></li></ul><li>

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