In the context of climate change mitigation, technologies for removing the CO2 from the atmosphere are key challenges. The transfer of carbon from the atmosphere into useful carbon deposits is currently one promising option.Transferring biomass to carbon-rich materials with potential mega-scale application is an option to sequester carbon from plant material, taking it out of the short-term carbon cycle and therefore binding CO2 efficiently and even in a useful, productive, way into longer term non-atmospheric carbon pools. EuroChar will investigate carbon sequestration potentials that can be achieved by transforming plant biomass into charcoal (or Biochar) and add that to agricultural soils. Biochar production will be demonstrated using thermochemical (TC) or hydrothermal carbonization processes (HTC) that can produce energy and store 15 to 20% of the Carbon originally contained in the biomass. Detailed ISO-accredited whole Life Cycle Assessment will be carried out according to the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook on LCA, for both TC and HTC production systems to evaluate the net Carbon sequestration capacity associated to Biochar production. Physico-chemical properties of Biochar will be analysed in a series of laboratory studies that will use standardized analytical protocols, and a specific phyto-toxicity test will be made using molecular approaches involving a model plant. Part of the study will also address the short versus long-term stability of Biochar using recently produced and aged charcoal samples coming from archaeological sites. Specific investigations will also be made to assess Biochar decomposition using CO2-efflux measurements from 13C labelled Biochar. Three large-scale field experiments will be made in Italy, France and UK to analyse “realistic scale” application of Biochar. Upscaling will be considered by scenario analyses that will both consider the potential C-sequestration actually achievable at the european scale and the climate warming balance associated to carbon sequestration and potential changes in the mean surface albedo, due to massive use of Biochar as soil amendant. A number of stakeholders will be involved to review project’s activities. For this the EuroChar Stakeholder Committee will be created and met periodically during annual project meetings. Dissemination activities will be implemented to make project’s results available to a wider audience and the media.
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