Events & Media
Professor Barnes receives NPR recognition for study on biochar
Professor Barnes co-authored a study with Rice University colleagues on biochar, a charcoal substance made from organic matter that has been heated to high temperatures under low oxygen conditions. Biochar has been pegged to improve hydrology and make nutrients more available to plants, but has also been seen as a potential mitigation technique for climate change. Below is the abstract and link to the full article. Be sure to check out the press release describing biochar and the study.
The Rice biochar study also received press on "The Salt", a food blog on National Public Radio on Friday. Biochar may be useful for food growers in getting through drought. Check out the article here.
Hydrologic properties of biochars produced at different temperatures
Authors: T.J. Kinney, C.A. Masiello, B. Dugan, W.C. Hockaday, M.R. Dean,K. Zygourakis, R.T. Barnes
Publication: Biomass and Bioenergy
Date: 20 March 2012
Adding charcoal to soil (biochar soil amendment) can sequester carbon and improve soil performance, although the extent and exact mechanisms of soil improvement are not clear. Additionally, biochar properties can vary significantly with production conditions. Here we characterize the impact of pyrolysis temperature on two important soil hydrologic properties: field capacity and hydrophobicity. We show that pure biochar exhibits a wide range in both properties depending on feedstock and pyrolysis conditions. We find that both properties can be controlled by choice of pyrolysis temperature; 400 °C–600 °C produced biochars with the most desirable hydrological properties (peak field capacity and minimum hydrophobicity). Further, we show that hydrophobicity is strongly correlated (R2 = 0.87; p < 0.001) to the presence of alkyl functionalities in FTIR spectra, suggesting that this property derives from aliphatic domains on the surface of low-temperature biochars. Although we could relate hydrophobicity to biochar chemistry, our chemical characterization techniques were insufficient to describe variation in field capacity of soil–biochar mixtures. Field capacity may be related to large biochar pores, suggesting the need for quantitative techniques to characterize large (greater than 0.1 μm) pores within biochar particles.
► Pyrolysis temperature and feedstock drive variation in biochar field capacity and hydrophobicity.
► Hydrologic behavior of pure biochars does not necessarily predict the behavior of biochar-amended soils.
► Optimum hydrologic properties of biochar occur at production temperatures between 400 and 600 °C, depending on feedstock.
► A full constraint of biochar hydrologic behaviors requires better tools to constrain pore size, structure, and connectivity.
Read Full Article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0961953412000438#FCANote
This event was last updated on 03-26-2012