Biochar Research Will Continue Under Hass at West Virginia State University

May 25, 2012

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Research to explore the use of biochar as a soil amendment will continue now that Dr. Amir Hass has joined West Virginia State University as an assistant research professor. Biochar is a carbonaceous co-product from pyrolysis thermo-conversion of cellulosic biomass to a petroleum replacement product, such as bio-oil. The pyrolysis technology can also be used to treat animal waste by reducing waste volume and converting the waste into a beneficial and environmentally benign material.

This project continues research started by Hass at the USDA-ARS Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center in Beaver, WV. He is also collaborating with Dr. Isabel Lima and Dr. Akwasi Boateng from the USDA ARS to evaluate the agronomic use and environmental impact of biochar. In recent study, published in the Journal of Environmental Quality, Hass and his colleagues found biochar produced from chicken manure improved the fertility of a typical Appalachia soil if applied at proper rates. They also found biochar application increased the acid soil pH, while having limited adverse effect on water quality of the soil leachate.

Hass is also teamed up with Ken Moss, CEO of Piedmont BioProduct, LLC in Gretna, VA, who develops commercial scale thermo-conversion technology of cellulosic biomass. This collaborative effort focuses on improving biochar from fast pyrolysis as a value added co-product for the cellulosic biomass thermo-conversion industry. This work focuses on the use of selected binders and additives to modify the physical and chemical properties of biochar and improve its agronomic value.

For more information please contact Dr. Amir Hass at amirhass@wvstateu.edu

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