Catalyst - Agrichar
In universities and laboratories all over the world, scientists are racing to help find a solution to halt climate change. And the answer may come from deep in the Amazon. In the Amazon basin, huge expanses of dark fertile soil called terra preta are becoming highly prized by farmers and ecologists alike. Full of charcoal, pottery shards and compost, they're believed to have been created by pre-Colombian civilisations. Even after thousands of years, terra preta stores more than twice the carbon of other soils.
In a NSW shed a giant toaster is making syngas by slowly burning crop residues at low temperatures. The by-product of this renewable energy is a charcoal that retains about half of the original carbon. US bio-geochemists studying terra preta are getting together with Australian engineers making biofuels. The result is "Agrichar" technology. It uses the charcoal by-product to bury carbon in topsoil where it's needed for agriculture.
Their early results promise green energy, soil restoration and greenhouse mitigation from an affordable technology that can remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than is released.
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