55 uses of biochar
[Updated to 60]
Acknowledgement of the original work
The 55 uses of biochar work was originally created by:
Schmidt HP, Wilson K:
The 55 uses of biochar,
the Biochar Journal 2014, Arbaz, Switzerland.
Version of 12th May 2014
Some of the uses detailed already use activated carbon as the solution.
Uses 5-60 are the original work as above, 6 years on we have added some extra uses.
New biochar economy
2/ An alternative mechanism to current carbon credits
3/ A provider of jobs and livelihoods (new industry)
4/ Carbon Zero mechanism to bring together carbon purchasers and sinkers
5/ Silage agent
6/ Litter additive
7/ Slurry treatment
8/ Manure composting
Biochar can be added to silage, litter, slurry and manure (uses 5-8) to reduce the smell/odours produced from the rotting material. It also absorbs the nutrients in the waste via ion exchange and adsorption. The resulting charged biochar could then be used for soil improvement as a fertiliser.
9/ Feed additive/supplement
Many studies have been conducted that suggest if biochar is added to animal feed then it can have multiple positive effects [Ref]. These include, healthier animals with less stomach related illnesses, less methane (CH₄) production from their digestive tracts and increased feed intake. [Methane is a greenhouse gas, x24 more potent than carbon dioxide on the time scale of 100 years].
10/ Water treatment in fish farming
As in other forms of water treatment biochar can be placed in the water via a permeable membrane where it absorbs excess ammonium ions (NH₄⁺), which is excreted by the fish via their gills and is formed from decaying fish feed and other organic matter.
As soil amendment
11/ Carbon fertiliser
12/ Compost additive
13/ Substitute for peat in potting soil
14/ Plant protection
15/ Compensatory fertiliser for trace elements
For more details on all these uses, please see our soil improvement page.
In the building industry
Hemp a natural material mixed with Lime is being used as an insulation material in some green builds. Its low thermal conductivity property is derived from its internal structure where air is trapped and works as a great insulator. Biochar has the same properties with millions of fine air channels. Trials have been undertaken at the Ithaka Institut.
17/ Air decontamination
18/ Decontamination in earth foundations
19/ Humidity regulation
Biochar is very efficient at storing and regulating its water content. As such it can allow a wall to breathe.
20/ Potential protection against electromagnetic radiation though more work is needed to demonstrate its effectiveness for this application.
Decontamination of soil and natural water
21-24/ Soil additive for soil remediation, soil substrates, a barrier for preventing pesticides getting onto surface water, treating pond and lake water biogas production
25-26/ Biomass additive, biogas slurry treatment
Wastewater and sewage treatment
27-30/ Active carbon filter, pre-rinsing additive, soil substrate for organic plant beds, composting toilets
Treatment of drinking water
31-32/ Micro-filters, macro-filters in developing countries
Other industrial processes
33-35/ Exhaust filters – controlling emissions, room air filters
36-38/ Industrial materials – carbon filters, plastics
39-40/ Electronics – semi conductors, batteries. Other forms of carbon are more suitable for these applications
41/ Metallurgy – metal reduction
42-45/ Cosmetics – soaps, skin cream, therapeutic bath additives
46-48/ Paints and colouring – food colourants, industrial paints
49-50/ Energy production – pellets, substitute for lignite
51-53/ detoxification, carrier for active pharmaceutical ingredients, cataplasm or poultice for insect bites, abscesses, eczema…
54-56/ fabric additive for functional underwear, thermal insulation for functional clothing, deodorant for shoe soles
57-58/ filling for mattresses, filling for pillows
Shield against electromagnetic radiation
59/ shield against electromagnetic radiation, very similar to use 20
60/ food conservation