The FINANCIAL — The director of the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University has been appointed to the Board of the International Biochar Initiative (IBI).
Professor Andreas Hornung who is the Director of the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) took up this position on 23 January 2013 in the same month as being appointed Director of the Institute branch Sulzbach-Rosenberg of Fraunhofer UMSICHT alongside his EBRI role.
The IBI is a non-profit organisation that offers support to researchers, commercial entities, policy makers, farmers and gardeners, development agencies and others committed to sustainable biochar production and use.
Biochar is produced when biological material (biomass) is heated in the absence (or under reduction) of oxygen. The carbon in biochar resists degradation and can hold carbon in the ground for hundreds to thousands of years. It can therefore improve soil functions and reduce emissions from biomass that would otherwise naturally degrade to greenhouse gases.
In addition to creating a soil enhancer, biochar production systems can produce oil and gas that can be used as fuel, providing clean, renewable energy. It is the IBI Board’s task to further the organisation’s mission to promote the development of biochar production systems that follow ‘cradle to grave’ sustainability guidelines.
One such biochar production system is an innovative bioenergy technology developed by Professor Hornung and his team of researchers at EBRI. The Pyroformer is unique in its use of multiple biomass residues to generate cost-effective heat and power. It uses a patented heat transfer mechanism to pyrolyse and chemically process residues in a single step using a dual Archimedes screw system and an externally heated jacket. As Aston University said, the Pyroformer is an effective way of generating biochar, as well as producing heat, power and other by-products such gas and biodiesel. The Pyroformer is capable of processing up to 100 kg/h of biomass feed and when coupled with a Gasifier it will have an output of 400 kWeI – the equivalent to providing power for 800 homes.
Professor Andreas Hornung of EBRI, said: “Biochar and bioenergy co-production can help to combat global climate change by sequestering carbon in soils. It is vital that more research and development is conducted in this area. When the biochar is buried in the ground as a soil enhancer or ‘fertilizer’, the energy production systems producing biochar as a byproduct can become carbon negative. My roles at EBRI and at the Fraunhofer UMSICHT will help the IBI’s mission to promote the development of truly sustainable biochar production systems. I am thrilled to be appointed to the Board of IBI.”
Professor Hornung is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. In 2012, he received the Green Leader Award of the West Midlands. Currently the IBI Board has eight members from different regions of the world.