Biomethane Report - California #bioenergy #ad


ROBERT W GILLETT
 

This report was published in January. A big technology push for biochar (489 mentions) in California anaerobic digestion.


Charles Hegberg
 

Thanks Robert –

On another note, have you had a chance to look at the Maryland 2019 GGRA draft plan?  Biochar is in it but they have some real misconceptions and limitations.  If they are going to include it, they should at least have a better understanding.  I think it is something USBI/IBI should send a letter of support but address some of the issues.  Let me know if you get a chance to review it and thoughts.

Chuck

 

From: <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of ROBERT W GILLETT <themarvalus.wabio@...>
Reply-To: "main@Biochar.groups.io" <main@Biochar.groups.io>
Date: Saturday, February 29, 2020 at 1:31 PM
To: "main@Biochar.groups.io" <main@Biochar.groups.io>
Subject: [Biochar] Biomethane Report - California #bioenergy #AD

 

This report was published in January. A big technology push for biochar (489 mentions) in California anaerobic digestion.


Ron Larson
 

Bob and list, adding a cc

I decided not to pay much attention here after reading the first sentence containing “biochar”:

Emphasis added:     "Biochar is a waste product from thermochemical conversion of biomass via gasification and pyrolysis.”  

(This the first time I have seen biochar listed that way - only possible if you come from a world dealing with gases, I guess.)

But I did look at all 489 “biochar” cites, and came away with the view that biochar would make a lot of sense with digesters.  The authors noted but didn’t much accept the view that the biochar becomes MORE valuable after being in the digester.  They kept saying biochar couldn’t be afforded - even though the numbers said the opposite to me.

One option they didn’t look into at all was that the AD operators could make their own char.  In colder climates a good bit of heat is required with digesters - available with biochar production.  Also the pyrolysis gases could themselves be converted into a bio-methane.

All in all - a plus for biochar - but did not demonstrate much knowledge of biochar.

One other thing that was not discussed is that biochar is in direct competition for the same feedstock.  My perception is that biogas is not progressing much - because of the extremely low price for methane today (not mentioned at all in the paper, where the finances were based on 2015 methane costs/prices).  That cost problem for biogas will go away, but biochar could still win out for system size reasons - the final biochar product appears in minutes or hours - not weeks.  And biogas systems are not providing carbon negativity - the current big need.   Biogas can be helpful backing up wind and solar - but so can biochar.

I have added Dr. A.D. Karve to this thread, as he has worked with biochar additions to digesters for many years (as a promoter and user of household scale digesters
 - for cooking and lighting).  AD - Your thoughts on this report?  

Bob - good catch.  Thanks for the alert.

Ron

On Feb 29, 2020, at 11:31 AM, ROBERT W GILLETT <themarvalus.wabio@...> wrote:

This report was published in January. A big technology push for biochar (489 mentions) in California anaerobic digestion.


Nando Breiter
 

Ron,

Interesting report. I've only had time to scan it, but so far I don't see mention of the amount of micropores in the biochar produced. From what I've read in other papers, maximizing the number of micropore sites in a biochar will increase the amount of CO2 sequestered when adding biochar to a digester. This would require an accurate pyrolysis technique and preferably a feedstock that can optimally produce micropores. As far as I understand, micropore formation requires a certain minimum highest pyrolysis temperature, but if the particles get too hot the micropores that have formed tend to fissure open too wide to capture CO2 molecules. 

The increase in value of the biochar would most likely boil down to its ability to adsorb ammonia in a way that is plant available.

My have the impression so far that some combinations of digester feedstock / technique and a certain type of biochar at the correct dosage may be financially viable. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this study doesn't seem to have been designed to nail that down with any precision.

--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland


Ron Larson
 

Nando and list:

I also have not read this report thoroughly, but from my scan believe there is no discussion of pore size optimization - nor optimization of much else.  They strove for small particle size - which gave many problems.  My guess is that using pore and particle sizes optimum for a final use in agriculture might give them the best economics - an approach not even hinted at here,

I haven’t heard much of your own recent biochar work.  What’s happening for you?

Ron

On Mar 1, 2020, at 6:34 AM, nando@... wrote:

Ron,

Interesting report. I've only had time to scan it, but so far I don't see mention of the amount of micropores in the biochar produced. From what I've read in other papers, maximizing the number of micropore sites in a biochar will increase the amount of CO2 sequestered when adding biochar to a digester. This would require an accurate pyrolysis technique and preferably a feedstock that can optimally produce micropores. As far as I understand, micropore formation requires a certain minimum highest pyrolysis temperature, but if the particles get too hot the micropores that have formed tend to fissure open too wide to capture CO2 molecules. 

The increase in value of the biochar would most likely boil down to its ability to adsorb ammonia in a way that is plant available.

My have the impression so far that some combinations of digester feedstock / technique and a certain type of biochar at the correct dosage may be financially viable. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this study doesn't seem to have been designed to nail that down with any precision.

--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland


Kim Chaffee
 

Guys,

I read the Executive Summary twice and have a couple thoughts.  The last paragraph identifies the economic barrier as the requirement that the biochar cost $66.00 to $80.00 per ton to make the process cost neutral.

If the wastewater treatment plant had a biochar gasifier located next to the AD unit, it could use the heat energy to warm the digestate, which should accelerate the digestion process.  Also, it may be possible for the gasifier to co-produce syngas without significantly degrading the suitability of the biochar to improve the digestion process.  The syngas could be cleaned up along with the AD unit’s digestate gas.

This would, of course, add the capital cost of the gasifier to the equation.  However, if the financing were creatively structured, it might just work out.  After all, the biochar supplier has his own plant’s capital costs factored into his selling price.

Also, I saw in the ES that the digester gas would qualify for tax credits, due to its replacing natural gas.  

I’d be interested in any thoughts on this idea.  Thanks.

Kim


On Mar 1, 2020, at 9:17 AM, Ron Larson <rongretlarson@...> wrote:

Nando and list:

I also have not read this report thoroughly, but from my scan believe there is no discussion of pore size optimization - nor optimization of much else.  They strove for small particle size - which gave many problems.  My guess is that using pore and particle sizes optimum for a final use in agriculture might give them the best economics - an approach not even hinted at here,

I haven’t heard much of your own recent biochar work.  What’s happening for you?

Ron

On Mar 1, 2020, at 6:34 AM, nando@... wrote:

Ron,

Interesting report. I've only had time to scan it, but so far I don't see mention of the amount of micropores in the biochar produced. From what I've read in other papers, maximizing the number of micropore sites in a biochar will increase the amount of CO2 sequestered when adding biochar to a digester. This would require an accurate pyrolysis technique and preferably a feedstock that can optimally produce micropores. As far as I understand, micropore formation requires a certain minimum highest pyrolysis temperature, but if the particles get too hot the micropores that have formed tend to fissure open too wide to capture CO2 molecules. 

The increase in value of the biochar would most likely boil down to its ability to adsorb ammonia in a way that is plant available.

My have the impression so far that some combinations of digester feedstock / technique and a certain type of biochar at the correct dosage may be financially viable. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this study doesn't seem to have been designed to nail that down with any precision.

--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland


Charles Hegberg
 

Kim

You are walking down the right path.  Have discussed this with a number of USA WWTP operators.  I think the stated price point is off considerably for many reasons such as the plant buying the biochar rather than producing their own biochar, other operational offsets etc.  Primarily they are not accounting for the many economic and regulation externalities.  For example, in the not so distant future, the USEPA is likely to ban all biosolids land applications including digestate.  This is due to the fact the processes does not get to sufficient temperatures to destroy PFOS, antibiotics, estrogen, microplastics and other pollutants.  Everything is based on harmful bacteria.  However, gasification is one technology that does.     

 

Many places that have already installed AD systems, might as well make them operate better. So add biochar.  However the systems are very sensitive and the regulatory fines and penalties are very large for a system that goes out of balance.  Most operators do not want to take that risk without some assurance that things will not go off the rails.    

 

For those that have AD, the only reason they make money at this time is subsidies and reduced disposal costs.  If they are removed then it all falls a part or becomes a burden on the rate payers.  AD systems really do nothing but extract the gas from the waste and at the most reduces volumes by 50% or less and not at high enough temperatures to destroy the bad stuff other than the bad bugs.  Thus in that case it is worth a gasifier attached to the AD to provide supplemental heat especially in the winter.  For plants in some highly urbanized areas such as the Chesapeake Bay region, they also have a Biological Nitrogen Removal (BNR) system which must also be kept at the right temperature and even more critical than the AD system. 

 

The key is converting it into something that can be spread on the field, forests (Class B) or compost (Class A).  However, few get a payback on it.  Just another disposal method.  An example is Blue Plains in Washington DC.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb16X8gb9ME They spent I believe  $400M for the AD system and will never pay them back.  It was done really to remove odors that would cover the Washington DC especially in the summer.  While they get other benefits, the number one reason was high level public pressure.

 

For those in AD scenario, it would be best to produce biochar from the communities green waste which could be used in the AD system.  Better yet use the green waste to blend with the digestate and run it all through the gasifier together. This process would reduce the volume and destroy all the bad stuff in the biosolids.      

 

If a WWTP hasn’t installed an AD system then it is a waste of money to even consider it.  Go straight to a gasifier and process the biosolids through it. If a plant doesn’t have a BNR, then just look to make some electricity as that is the biggest operational cost to a WWTP.  If it has BNR flip over in the winter for the heat needed.  The processing of biosolids and green waste can be scheduled to fit the plant operations.

 

My only disagreement is on cleaning up syngas from a gasifier.  IMO, it is a waste of time and unnecessary expense.  Best to go straight to electricity or other uses.  In general, WWTPs have a lot of moving parts that must be carefully considered before entering another component.  Agriculture systems don’t have any real constraints as WWTP systems do so might be best to work out the operations on those first.

Chuck H. 

 

 

 

 

 

From: <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of "George "Kim" Chaffee" <kim.chaffee2@...>
Reply-To: "main@Biochar.groups.io" <main@Biochar.groups.io>
Date: Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 2:47 PM
To: "main@Biochar.groups.io" <main@Biochar.groups.io>
Cc: Nando <d.nando@...>
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Biomethane Report - California #bioenergy #AD

 

Guys,

 

I read the Executive Summary twice and have a couple thoughts.  The last paragraph identifies the economic barrier as the requirement that the biochar cost $66.00 to $80.00 per ton to make the process cost neutral.

 

If the wastewater treatment plant had a biochar gasifier located next to the AD unit, it could use the heat energy to warm the digestate, which should accelerate the digestion process.  Also, it may be possible for the gasifier to co-produce syngas without significantly degrading the suitability of the biochar to improve the digestion process.  The syngas could be cleaned up along with the AD unit’s digestate gas.

 

This would, of course, add the capital cost of the gasifier to the equation.  However, if the financing were creatively structured, it might just work out.  After all, the biochar supplier has his own plant’s capital costs factored into his selling price.

 

Also, I saw in the ES that the digester gas would qualify for tax credits, due to its replacing natural gas.  

 

I’d be interested in any thoughts on this idea.  Thanks.

 

Kim

 


On Mar 1, 2020, at 9:17 AM, Ron Larson <rongretlarson@...> wrote:

Nando and list:

 

I also have not read this report thoroughly, but from my scan believe there is no discussion of pore size optimization - nor optimization of much else.  They strove for small particle size - which gave many problems.  My guess is that using pore and particle sizes optimum for a final use in agriculture might give them the best economics - an approach not even hinted at here,

 

I haven’t heard much of your own recent biochar work.  What’s happening for you?

 

Ron



On Mar 1, 2020, at 6:34 AM, nando@... wrote:

 

Ron,

Interesting report. I've only had time to scan it, but so far I don't see mention of the amount of micropores in the biochar produced. From what I've read in other papers, maximizing the number of micropore sites in a biochar will increase the amount of CO2 sequestered when adding biochar to a digester. This would require an accurate pyrolysis technique and preferably a feedstock that can optimally produce micropores. As far as I understand, micropore formation requires a certain minimum highest pyrolysis temperature, but if the particles get too hot the micropores that have formed tend to fissure open too wide to capture CO2 molecules. 

The increase in value of the biochar would most likely boil down to its ability to adsorb ammonia in a way that is plant available.

My have the impression so far that some combinations of digester feedstock / technique and a certain type of biochar at the correct dosage may be financially viable. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this study doesn't seem to have been designed to nail that down with any precision.

--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland

 


Nando Breiter
 

On Sun, Mar 1, 2020 at 03:17 PM, Ron Larson wrote:
I haven’t heard much of your own recent biochar work.  What’s happening for you?
We're developing a horizontal bed kiln, the prototype is nearly ready for testing in upstate New York -> http://biochar.info/?p=en.horizontal_bed_kiln
It's generating a lot of regional interest. John Schwarz informs me that he is running from one meeting to the next. 

At the moment, I'm translating the documentation for the Stockholm biochar urban plant bed project from Swedish into English to place here 
http://biochar.info/?p=en.biochar_urban_landscapes (text is also on the way) as part of a general effort to document a variety of biochar / wood vinegar scenarios as completely as I can. I was in Stockholm to see this project first hand and was very impressed to see how successful it is. I'm informed that it is being replicated in other part of Sweden, particularly in Uppsala (just north of Stockholm), where they are using the biochar structural soil under the roads to increase the storm water retention capacity to 100 year floods. I hope that having the documentation and construction drawings will help other cities to replicate this project. 

AD systems are on my list to research more fully, particularly as we have a dairy farm with a digester 4 miles away from the plant location. We already have an AD research project in the planning stage with someone at Cornell, which is also close to the plant location. 

So far, I've managed to read "A review of biochar properties and their roles in mitigating challenges with anaerobic digestion" (very good paper)  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2018.12.048
and "Biochar increases biogas production in a batch digester charged with cattle manure" http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd24/12/sang24212.htm

So, back to translating ... 
 
--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland


Tom Miles
 

Nando,


Thanks for the update. We look forward to seeing your system in operation.

 

We understand ta there are some anaerobic digesters in Europe which add biochar to their feed. It would be helpful to understand what value the owners see in adding biochar. Stable gas production while varying feedstock quality is one benefit that we have heard.

 

Kind regards,

 

Tom

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of nando@...
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2020 2:34 PM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Biomethane Report - California #bioenergy #AD

 

On Sun, Mar 1, 2020 at 03:17 PM, Ron Larson wrote:

I haven’t heard much of your own recent biochar work.  What’s happening for you?

We're developing a horizontal bed kiln, the prototype is nearly ready for testing in upstate New York -> http://biochar.info/?p=en.horizontal_bed_kiln
It's generating a lot of regional interest. John Schwarz informs me that he is running from one meeting to the next. 

At the moment, I'm translating the documentation for the Stockholm biochar urban plant bed project from Swedish into English to place here 
http://biochar.info/?p=en.biochar_urban_landscapes (text is also on the way) as part of a general effort to document a variety of biochar / wood vinegar scenarios as completely as I can. I was in Stockholm to see this project first hand and was very impressed to see how successful it is. I'm informed that it is being replicated in other part of Sweden, particularly in Uppsala (just north of Stockholm), where they are using the biochar structural soil under the roads to increase the storm water retention capacity to 100 year floods. I hope that having the documentation and construction drawings will help other cities to replicate this project. 

AD systems are on my list to research more fully, particularly as we have a dairy farm with a digester 4 miles away from the plant location. We already have an AD research project in the planning stage with someone at Cornell, which is also close to the plant location. 

So far, I've managed to read "A review of biochar properties and their roles in mitigating challenges with anaerobic digestion" (very good paper)  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2018.12.048
and "Biochar increases biogas production in a batch digester charged with cattle manure" http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd24/12/sang24212.htm

So, back to translating ... 
 
--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland


Robert Lehmert
 

Charles --

Would you be able to expand on this statement:

"For example, in the not so distant future, the USEPA is likely to ban all biosolids land applications including digestate."

There's so much opportunity in that, I need to understand better. By the way, I have asked for an amendment to Vermont's pending Biosolids Bill to specifically specify that Sludge Carbonizate may be considered an Exceptional Quality Biosolid.

Thanks --


Charles Hegberg
 

The answer to your question is nicely summed up in this article.  You will quickly see why it is going to be a crisis. 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/05/biosolids-toxic-chemicals-pollution

 

The PFAS “Forever Chemical” is leading the charge right now.  While EPA has just released testing for drinking water, they still don’t have a clue or have figured out what to do about biosolids.  However, I think the current practices are on life support.  As the article states, one can’t keep spreading biosolids on fields or in woods and not expect all these contaminants not to re-enter the system. 

 

It is being discussed at various levels of government.  As mentioned AD does not deal with the long list of pollutants.  Only gasification and pyrolysis can tend with a majority of them.  It’s a bigger issue than anyone wants to lead on to. 

 

Chuck

 

From: <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of "Robert Lehmert via Groups.Io" <roblehmert@...>
Reply-To: "main@Biochar.groups.io" <main@Biochar.groups.io>
Date: Monday, March 2, 2020 at 1:26 PM
To: "main@Biochar.groups.io" <main@Biochar.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Biomethane Report - California #bioenergy #AD

 

Charles --

Would you be able to expand on this statement:

"For example, in the not so distant future, the USEPA is likely to ban all biosolids land applications including digestate."

There's so much opportunity in that, I need to understand better. By the way, I have asked for an amendment to Vermont's pending Biosolids Bill to specifically specify that Sludge Carbonizate may be considered an Exceptional Quality Biosolid.

Thanks --


Kim Chaffee
 

Hello Nando,

I want to compliment you on the innovativeness of your horizontal bed kiln design.  From what I can see, it represents a major advance in the state of the art of biochar production.  Do you have a projected date for installing your first commercial unit in upstate New York?  Will you begin commercial production shortly after that?

If we are to accelerate the growth of the biochar industry, as I believe we must to deal with climate change, we have to significantly reduce the cost per unit of output of biochar production.  I hope that your kiln will do that.  Can you say anything about the cost at this time?

Congratulations also on your highly informative website.  It’s one of the best I’ve seen in the whole industry.  I would recommend it to people who want to learn about biochar in general.  Keep up your excellent work.

Cheers,

Kim Chaffee
Richmond, Virginia USA   




On Mar 1, 2020, at 5:34 PM, nando@... wrote:

On Sun, Mar 1, 2020 at 03:17 PM, Ron Larson wrote:
I haven’t heard much of your own recent biochar work.  What’s happening for you?
We're developing a horizontal bed kiln, the prototype is nearly ready for testing in upstate New York -> http://biochar.info/?p=en.horizontal_bed_kiln
It's generating a lot of regional interest. John Schwarz informs me that he is running from one meeting to the next. 

At the moment, I'm translating the documentation for the Stockholm biochar urban plant bed project from Swedish into English to place here 
http://biochar.info/?p=en.biochar_urban_landscapes (text is also on the way) as part of a general effort to document a variety of biochar / wood vinegar scenarios as completely as I can. I was in Stockholm to see this project first hand and was very impressed to see how successful it is. I'm informed that it is being replicated in other part of Sweden, particularly in Uppsala (just north of Stockholm), where they are using the biochar structural soil under the roads to increase the storm water retention capacity to 100 year floods. I hope that having the documentation and construction drawings will help other cities to replicate this project. 

AD systems are on my list to research more fully, particularly as we have a dairy farm with a digester 4 miles away from the plant location. We already have an AD research project in the planning stage with someone at Cornell, which is also close to the plant location. 

So far, I've managed to read "A review of biochar properties and their roles in mitigating challenges with anaerobic digestion" (very good paper)  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2018.12.048
and "Biochar increases biogas production in a batch digester charged with cattle manure" http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd24/12/sang24212.htm

So, back to translating ... 
 
--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland