ILLINOIS BIOCHAR GROUP (UNITED STATES)

 

The Illinois Biochar Group coordinator is currently Steve Peterson who is a research chemist with the USDA’s Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. The news for the group can be found at www.illinoisbiochargroup.org.

The Illinois Biochar Group encourages research in the production and use of biochar. For example, research and development is needed to establish standardized biochar production methods and to understand how to produce biochar suitable for agricultural use so that it is beneficial and does not have any adverse affects on crops or the environment. Further research is needed to assess the impact of biochar on soil ecology and processes.  We also hope to inform and educate others about biochar and it potential for applications in agriculture and site remediation and in carbon sequestration as well as about bio-oils which are produced in the pyrolysis process of making biochar.

Our group was initially established by Paul Wever and Paul Anderson of Chip Energy, Inc., in Goodfield, Illinois, who were interested in biochar production. Researchers at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, became involved with the group in 2010.  ISTC hosted a Biochar Symposium on September 1, 2010, which was attended by a mix of approximately 60 scientists, engineers, businessmen, and agricultural specialists from throughout the Midwest. The presentations from that symposium can be viewed at www.istc.illinois.edu/research/biocharsymposium2010.cfm. From that start, the Illinois Biochar Group has grown to over 35 regularly participating members and usually holds 2 – 3 meetings a year as well as a workshop or conference. It co-organized the first Midwest Biochar Conference in June 2013. For IBG meeting and conference information and archived presentations, please see the IBG website. Anyone interested in any aspect of biochar is welcome to attend our meetings.

Recent research and other projects of our members include examining: (1) production of biochar from a variety of waste biomass and testing its characteristics; (2) use of biochar as a soil amendment for sustainable agriculture;  (3) potential environmental implications associated with biochar use such as on PAH bioavailability or changes to soils, etc.; (4) application of biochar in site remediation projects or for landfill covers or in riparian buffer zones; (5) modifications of biochars for improved carbon sequestration; (6) use for reduction of GHG emissions from soils; (7) use of biochar as a replacement for activated carbon or other compounds in products; and (8) new design of various pyrolysis furnaces and testing of production methods.

If you would like to join the Illinois Biochar Group or have more information about the group, please contact Steve Peterson by email at steve.peterson@ars.usda.gov.