USDA, PNNL and Washington State University research energy and environmental potential of biochar

RICHLAND, Washington , February 28, 2010 () – Scientists in Eastern Washington are researching a material that could be a new fuel source, a way to improve soil and to capture carbon that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the federal Department of Agriculture's research station in Prosser and Washington State University are studying biochar, a charcoal-like material. Biochar is produced when biomass such as wood, plant and animal waste is burned in low oxygen conditions so it doesn't combust.

The USDA estimates biochar has the potential to replace about 25 percent of the annual oil consumption in this country. They say it especially seems promising as a soil amendment and to lock up greenhouse gases.

Information from: Tri-City Herald,

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