**Beyond Carbon Zero – Hot Lime Labs secures funding for biochar project from MPI**
“We are thrilled to announce project funding of $707k from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund as part of a $1.77m project. This project aims to demonstrate a circular economy model that can transform large commercial greenhouses into carbon-negative hubs, by converting green waste into char (aka biochar).
Underpinning this project is Hot Lime’s core product which turns waste biomass into CO2, to boost productivity in greenhouses. Char is a byproduct of the Hot Lime process, and when made well it can be buried and lock up carbon in the ground for hundreds of years while having absorption properties similar to activated carbon.
As part of this project, we will optimise Hot Lime char for use as a filter to help clean up wastewater, with an initial focus on grabbing onto nitrates – while also ensuring it is also suitable for long-term carbon burial. We will test this at an initial site near Taupo with the long-term vision of being able to roll it out across the country as we roll out other Hot Lime systems.
Hot Lime Chief Growth Officer Tijs Robinson says “High-tech greenhouses are incredibly efficient environments to grow fruits and vegetables. With this project, we are looking at how we not only use our system to let growers access renewable CO2 and move closer to carbon zero but also to capture some of the carbon from green waste and get greenhouses past carbon zero and become carbon negative”.
We are thankful for the support of MPI’s SFF Futures fund, and our shareholders, who are making this work possible.”
HLL are probably the closest thing we have in NZ to a biochar industry development story. Biochar is not their focus but it looks like it is growing importance in their business plans. From their latest newsletter:
Rod’s plantation was hit by storm damage recently, leaving him with a lot of wood-fall to clean up. This lead to a busy day of biochar production … just the 2nd run in a new WarmHeart 2000L flame cap kiln (search “warmheart” for other posts on this kiln).
Paulownia bark & leaves are ‘animal ice-cream’ but it also produces a very interesting biochar and is very easy to process (rocket fuel). Rod will have pawlownia biochar available for clients soon. Do get in touch if you want to connect with him.
Could we see the Allblacks playing above AllBlackEarth one day soon? Now, if we could get the national team to offset their rather large carbon bootprint via CDR & biochar voluntary markets, then that would be a nice circular story.
Here is a link to the Yarrow stadium FB page with more on this story, including video of application work.
He mentions biochar in the discussion… ““Soil carbon has been quite controversial, as I understand it, in this approval process, quite what the role of biochar is (producing charcoaling effects from biomass and then locking it up in the soil), there are problems with doing that, so it’s not going to be a simple solution.”
A search on ‘biochar’ in the nearly 3,000 page report pulls quite a few results with some attention in bioenergy (chapter 6) but some dedicated coverage in Chapter 7: (22.214.171.124)
There are some NZ names listed as authors of this section:
I’ve attended one of the virtual HWEN road shows and today, a followup Q&A session. I managed to squeeze in two short biochar related Qs from my phone. Both Qs were answered by Dr Jacqueline Roweth:
1.) “Biochar can be easily measured. Why not this as soil carbon” (my followup to someone else’s Q on why HWEN was not supporting using soil carbon which JR answered verbally)
2.) “Why not allow a farm to baseline their soil carbon to best science practice and then monitor to an agreed standard. Individual farm option“
Note the reference to NZAGRC in each of the replies and my previous post on the new NZAGRC 2021 report. So, the big Q for me is: can the biochar community & BNNZ address these foreseen issues with biochar and soil carbon?