Gains and Threats from Smouldering Combustion to Biochar Production and Storage
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Biochar is an environmentally beneficial way of locking carbon emissions into a solid phase and storage for very long periods of time. On the one hand, smouldering combustion can be used in a pyrolysis reactor to provide energy-efficient conversion of biomass into biochar. This reactor design could run with minimal or zero energy costs and high yield since the smouldering process would provide the energy supply released from the slow oxidation of a fraction of the biomass itself. On the other hand, smouldering fires of organic soils occurs at a global scale and are a mayor menace to biochar storage fields and can reduce them to ashes. This is about the only hazard that can led to an accidental release to the atmosphere of the stored carbon in the biochar. The technology to enhanced production and safer storage of biochar is currently being developed at Edinburgh from fundamental knowledge on smouldering combustion.