Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Promoting Pollution Prevention Through Information Exchange

GLRPPR Sector Resource: Biochar: Assessing the Promise and Risks To Guide U.S. Policy

Biochar: Assessing the Promise and Risks To Guide U.S. Policy

In this report, we describe biochar production pathways, energy co-products resulting from biochar production and their potential uses, assess the key environmental risks associated with biochar production and utilization systems, discuss estimates of global technical and economic potential for biochar production and carbon sequestration, and give a brief overview of existing domestic and international policies on biochar. We conclude with recommendations for a research agenda to support biochar policy development in the U.S. We find that a critical shortage of pilot and commercial scale biochar production and utilization systems, especially slow pyrolysis, and thus a critical shortage of biochar for field testing, are a major barrier to addressing the uncertainties and risks associated with biochar today. To acquire the data needed to develop a U.S. biochar policy, we believe that several commercial-sized demonstration projects are needed. To develop these projects and analyze results would require about eight years and cost between $100 million and $150 million.


Natural Resources Defense Council

Resource Type:

Date of Publication:
November 2010

Associated Sectors:

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).


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