Biochar (the non-fuel use of charcoal) is a carbon-rich residue produced by low-oxygen pyrolysis from biomass (agriculture/forest residues and waste biomass). There is good evidence that soil-applied biochar establishes a long-term, stable and easily measurable carbon sink. Therefore, by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in plant tissues, and by converting it into a highly stable form of carbon, a low cost and effective type of carbon storage emerges. Furthermore, the addition of biochar to poor soils, such as the extensive marginal and solonetzic soils of Alberta hold the promise of increasing crop yields due to anticipated maintenance of soil fertility, quality and productivity.

Biochar is an emerging technology with global impact and considerable potential benefits for Alberta. Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures has conducted biochar work for the past five years, developing small-scale (batch and continuous types) pyrolyzers and producing and testing biochar from different Alberta feedstock. This presentation will explore the potential benefits of large-scale biochar production and use in Alberta and will also highlight the major technology and market gaps that must be filled to achieve these benefits.

Speaker: Dr. Anthony Anyia, M.Sc., Ph.D.

Dr. Anthony Anyia received his Ph.D. in 2001 from the Humboldt University of Berlin. He joined the Alberta Research Council (now part of Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures, AITF) as a Research Scientist in 2002. He is currently a lead Scientist and Manager of the Bioresource Technologies Business Unit at AITF. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta. As a plant physiologist with interests in drought tolerance and water use efficiency, Dr. Anyia has presented results of his work in many national and international symposia and conferences. He is the author of several refereed journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings.

As manager, Dr. Anyia provides scientific and management leadership to programs in Plant Biotechnology & Genomics, Biofibre Feedstock Development, Biomass Processing Technologies, and Engineered Biofibre Composite Products. His portfolio of programs also includes the biomass pyrolysis program that focuses on biochar production and end-use applications development.

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