On July 2nd Biochar Products was contacted by Nathanial Anderson of the US Forest Service - Rocky Mt. Research Station (RMRS) out of Missoula, Montana about setting up a 1 to 5 DTPD biochar plant for a study of a commercial biochar plant.
The following project document was included with the initial contact:
ARRA Sustainable Forest Bioenergy Production Objective 1:
A Detailed Productivity Analysis of Mobile Pyrolysis
Researchers at the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, the University of Montana, and the University of Idaho are interested in deploying a commercial-scale bio-oil and/or biochar production system as part of an ongoing research project in the Umpqua National Forest region of Oregon. The objectives of this project are to (1) evaluate the financial feasibility and economic value of using mobile pyrolysis units for in-woods conversion of biomass into bio-oil and biochar and (2) test the impacts of biochar application on forest sites, including enhanced soil properties and retention of site nutrients. Biomass available for processing includes residuals from harvest operations and fuels reduction treatments. The research team is hoping to deploy a mobile system that is capable of processing between 1 and 5 tons of biomass per day.
2. Project details
Ongoing research by the collaborators in this study indicates that mobile pyrolysis has the potential to improve the financial feasibility of converting bulky, low-value forest biomass from logging operations and fuels reduction projects into higher-value energy and chemical products, including bio-oil and bio-char. However, no study to date has performed a detailed productivity study on an integrated pyrolysis-based biomass conversion operation. Such a productivity study is necessary to evaluate the financial feasibility and economic value of in-woods pyrolysis. To achieve Objective 1, we will use ARRA funds to implement a commercial scale biomass harvesting and in-woods pyrolysis operation. This operation will be the subject of a detailed productivity study, which will take place in three parts:
There was further discussion about if this could be on a site other than the Umpqua National Forest, Nate indicated that the study parameters may well be more of a concern than the actual location. So at least for him the consideration of the availability of the 1 DTPD plant on the Wallowa-Whitman would be a feasible consideration that may swing them to working with us at BioChar Products.
We then made contact with ABRI to see if there was a possibility of using the 1 DTPD plant to for a period of about 6 months to support this possible study. They felt this would be a very positive thing and that they would be willing to lease us the plant for that period. This would be a good fit since the plant is already being readied to be sent down to California for a short demonstration in November of this year. So we could share the transport costs.
Upon further discussion with RMRS it appears that we may well be able to be able to put this research project together with the following paramaters.
Estimated Production for the Life of the Study
This project will be funded as a contract for BioChar Products to accomplish the above described project and would provide 3 jobs for people in Halfway for a three month period as described above. This will also give BioChar Products the opportunity learn how to run and maintain a biochar plant before we actually start our full scale plant. It will also demonstrate our ability operate as we attempt to get funding for the startup of our full scale operation.
Another valuable partner in this process is Sustainable Obtainable Solutions - from Helena Mt. They would like to provide this type demonstration to other small rural communities that might be interested in starting a biochar plant. This project may be a model for them to move their effort forward in partnership with BioChar Products. You can learn more about them at: