What Materials Has ARTi Successfully Pyrolysed (Turned into biochar)? The List Is Extensive

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ARTi is consistently working on Research and Development for biochar and pyrolysis under the direction of PhD. Bernardo Del Campo. Dr. del Campo is a biochar expert and co-author of Chapters 3 and 4 of the book Biochar for Environmental Management: Science, Technology and Implementation [1] published in 2015 by Routledge. Dr. del Campo’s chapters focus on Biochar production technology. (Link)

Hardwood: Pine  (Left: Before pyrolysis, Right: Pyrolyzed Material at 350℃)

The study of biochar production technology or pyrolysis technology includes testing out many varieties of biomass feedstock to produce biochar material for various uses and with different characteristics based on the original materials. There are also differences in processing techniques and in the lengths of production times as well. These procedures include tests such as biomass analysis (CHON-S), biochar composition and characterization, surface area analysis for adsorption, filter media performance analysis, and emission testing. At ARTi we have our own laboratory and we communicate and work regularly with other laboratories and researchers in the field. 

ARTi makes biochar, activated carbon, Carbon black and now carbon commodities for the purpose of carbon sequestration. ARTi produces biochar under regulated conditions utilizing various feedstocks, and pyrolysis or gasification methods (within 350-800C) residence times (1min to 5hr). 

  • ARTi biochar is mainly produced from agricultural residues. It is made at high temperatures at low oxygen levels. The process is called pyrolysis. Biochar when added to soil  enhances soil microbes, improves nutrient retention, helps to hold water in the soil for a longer time, improves root growth and development and sequesters carbon dioxide. Biochar’s porous structure helps to trap water and plant nutrients in its surface, making them available to crops when they are needed. 
  • Activated carbon  is a carbon to filter contaminants from gaseous and liquid media.
  • ARTi also makes Carbon Black. Carbon black is an amorphous carbon meaning it has no crystalline structure. It can be used as a conductive or insulating substance in a wide range of rubber, plastic, and ink products.
  • Most importantly, ARTi has been working on carbons produced with the intention of aiding in carbon sequestration. 

How does ARTi’s pyrolysis technology sequester CO2 from the Atmosphere?

ARTi’s primary pyrolysis product to achieve carbon sequestration is biochar. 

How does biochar work to capture CO2?

During a plant’s lifespan it captures CO2 as it absorbs the carbon dioxide needed to perform photosynthesis. When the plant material is pyrolyzed in ARTi’s reactor, the CO2 captured by the plant during its lifetime will continue to be captured for hundreds to thousands of years in its new form as biochar or the other carbons we talked about. As biochar, the carbon is locked and cannot be broken down. In this form, the carbon is called recalcitrant. How are biochars or other pyrolyzed carbons made to be different from one another? 

The feedstock type, the production method such as temperature and residence times as well as the intended use of the carbon product are all factors we take into account. For biochar, the destination soil type is also taken into account so that the right biochar product is made.  Nevertheless, feedstock is the first variable and will determine much of the overall traits of the biochar. Biochars generated from wood, for example, have a higher aromatic character, higher C content, lower H/C ratio, and FTIR spectrum characteristics sohave a larger potential for enhancing carbon storage in tropical soils. Biochar made from bone or plant materials are another story.They are affordable to produce and to activate.. In arid places, manure-based biochar can improve crop productivity by increasing the soil’s water holding capacity and by conserving rainfall water.

Although ARTi’s work with biomass includes a wide range of feedstock sources, forestry biomass, agricultural biomass residues and industrial waste biomass represent the primary categories of focus

In the following table is defined a classification of the different feedstocks pyrolyzed by ARTi´s Biochar Pyrolysis Unit (BPU) system:

Feedstock classification pyrolyzed by ARTi’s BPU system

Biomass ClassificationSpecific FeedstockDescription
Woody crops
  • Bamboo
  • Hemp
  • Woodchips
  • Softwood: Maple Sawdust
  • Hardwood: Pine
Renewable source of feedstock. Carbon is taken up by trees and becomes forest biomass that eventually dies, decays, and releases carbon that is in turn taken back up by renewed forest growth.
Agricultural Residue
  • Oat Hulls
  • Sugar Beets
  • Shea Cake
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • DDG
Organic materials which are produced as by-products from harvesting and processing of agricultural crops. It requires a higher content of volatile matter, lower density and burning time.
Waste Biomass
  • Industrial Refused Biomass
  • Chicken Hatchery Waste
  • Virgin Bleaching Clay
Waste materials are generated from all sectors of the food industry with everything from meat production to confectionery producing waste that can be utilized as an energy source.
Industrial Residues
  • Textiles, Fiber Cake,
  • Bleaching clay,
  • PLA (Polyactic acid) and biochar Polypropylene and biochar
Industry generates residue materials that can be successfully pyrolyzed.

Woody crop derived biochar is one of the most widely available types. This type of  biochar has shown to improve agricultural soil quality and crop yields[2].  The fertilizer being used, original soil quality and levels of compost added  can have a big effect on the ultimate outcome. One first concern with woody crop derived biochar is that the feedstock is sourced sustainably. 

Biochar derived from agricultural residues can have a number of possible beneficial uses such as for biofuels, absorbents or also as a soil amendment[3]. Agricultural residues are by-products of farming and require longer pyrolysis times.  

Waste biomass can include a virtually endless list of potential feedstocks. Nevertheless,, the safe application and non-contaminated output, whether chemical or biological, is important when processing waste biomass into biochar for use in soil or for filtration. ARTi, for example, has successfully processed chicken manure as biochar. This story can be found in a separate article in ARTi Blogs. (Link) One  upside of waste derived biochar is that the feedstock is  inexpensive.and a win-win scenario can be offered to the suppliers and users. ARTi’s processes can handle a wide range of organic feedstocks, including forestry by-products, wood chips, oat hulls, and litter, with varying moisture content levels, with ease. The photos in this blog show some of the feedstocks that we have previously worked with:

Coconut Shell BiomassCoconut Husk Biomass
Wood chipsPellets
Dairy Manure DigestateFiber Cake

ARTi reactor trailer bin (left), dryer bin(middle), reactor bin(right)

ARTi has designed Biochar Pyrolysis Units (BPU) to meet the specific needs of our clients. ARTi’s pyrolysis operations begin with a large truckload of biomass, which then is ground down to minimize particle size. Afterwards, the biomass is dried to get the right texture that’s best for allowing it to enter the reactor which is operating at high temperatures (400-800C) with little air/oxygen. After being pyrolyzed, the product then passes through a cooling tower to lower its temperature before being packaged in bulk bags. 

Our goal is to help farmers, composters and landscapers to be greener, improve their products and enhance their soil. Our carbon products are also aimed at gardeners and biochar enthusiasts. The focus is on supporting  regenerative practices into farming, recycling and landscaping. Our biochar is part of the circular economy.and is made from agricultural and forestry residues.We reclaim previously unwanted biomass and help our customers mitigate their environmental impact. Pyrolysis means making biochar with agriculture and forestry residues transforming these previously unwanted materials into valuable ones. 

[1] Boateng Et al. Biochar for Environmental Management: Science, Technology and Implementation Routledge, 2015

[2]  Xie Et al. Effects of Amendment of Biochar Produced from Woody Biomass on Soil Quality and Crop Yield Tsinghua University, School of Environment, Beijing, China, ASCE Library 2014

[3] Khawkomol Et al., Potential of Biochar Derived from Agricultural Residues for Sustainable Management, Sustainability 2021, 13, 8147.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Philip Treanor

    You show Nut Shells as one of the Biomasses used. What type of shell were used (looks like almonds) and do you have the numbers as required for California Clean Air permitting. We are considering Sludge from Waste water plants together with Pine & Douglas Fir woody products and hopefully Dairy Herd effluent dried down to 35% WB.
    I would assume we will talk further on these issues.

    Philip Treanor

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