THE demand for energy production as well as agriculture's need for soil improvement is often incompatible. But biofuel and biochar made in the same process could soon become a reality. Curtin University's Fuels and Energy Technology Institute is halfway through a $4.7 million research project that uses mallee trees as the feedstock to produce liquid fuel.
The two stage process converts the biomass into a liquid bio-oil which can be transported to a refinery to produce liquid biofuel. Director Professor Chun-Zhu Li said the high nutrient biochar produced from the process was a source for carbon sequestration that could be used to improve soil conditions. "The carbon in the biochar comes from the carbon dioxide in the air when the plant grows," Professor Li said.
"When the biochar is returned to the field, it is a form of carbon that will stay there for a long time." The three-year project is funded by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Curtin University, CSIRO, Department of Environment and Conservation and the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre. Farm Online