News Column

Recent Findings from Department of Agriculture Has Provided New Information about Biotechnology

June 18, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Biotech Week -- Researchers detail new data in Technology. According to news reporting originating from Florence, South Carolina, by NewsRx correspondents, research stated, "Biochars for both soil improvement and bioenergy applications are affected by the choice of both the parent feedstock and the pyrolysis temperature. As such, controlling these two variables may yield an ideal product with engineered properties-a 'designer biochar.' The potential for a designer biochar comes from its ability to combine the properties of manure-based biochars, which are nutrient-rich and alkaline, with lignocellulosic biochars, which are carbon-rich and neutral to acidic."

Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from the Department of Agriculture, "In this study, two such feedstocks (poultry litter and switchgrass) were blended at different ratios (100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, and 0% litter), pelletized (6 mm diameter), and then subjected to slow pyrolysis at different temperatures (350 degrees C, 500 degrees C, and 700 degrees C) to create test biochars. The biochars were tested for energy characteristics, pellet durability, and proximate composition. The results indicated that the blended biochars had lower pH, electrical conductivity, and ash contents than the pure poultry litter biochars. This suggests that a blended biochar is more appropriate for soil application. The blended biochars also had higher energy content (HHV), and the rate of mass loss during combustion was largely due to the increase of biochar carbon content. However, blending decreased the end temperature of combustion (compared to pure poultry litter biochars), suggesting that the blends contained more labile C. Structurally, the pure poultry litter pellets, regardless of pyrolysis temperature, were more durable, as indicated by less dust emitted, than the pure switchgrass pellets."

According to the news editors, the research concluded: "Even though blended biochar pellets degrade more rapidly during handling and storage, blending manure and plant material for biochar production alleviates some of the other application issues when using pure manure-based biochars for soil improvement or energy conversion applications."

For more information on this research see: Poultry Litter And Switchgrass Blending For Biochar Production. Transactions of the ASABE, 2014;57(2):543-553. Transactions of the ASABE can be contacted at: Amer Soc Agricultural & Biological Engineers, 2950 Niles Rd, St Joseph, MI 49085-9659, USA (see also Technology).

The news editors report that additional information may be obtained by contacting K.B. Cantrell, ARS, Dept. of Agriculture, Coastal Plains Soil Water & Plant Res Center, Florence, SC, United States. Additional authors for this research include J.H. Martin and J.M. Novak.

Keywords for this news article include: Poultry, Florence, Technology, Agriculture, United States, South Carolina, North and Central America

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Source: Biotech Week

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