Life cycle assessment and carbon footprint for the production of biochar as an alternative of soil remediation = Análisis del ciclo de vida y huella de carbono para la producción de biocarbón como alternativa de remediación de suelos
The use of biochar such as a “gentle” in situ soil remediation technique has received attention in recent years. The production and characteristic of biochar are influenced mainly by the operating conditions of conversion process and feedstock composition. Although the commercialization of biochar as a soil amendment is still in its infancy, some companies in the UK have ventured into the production and development of biochar products with very good results in the management of contaminants in soils. The environmental benefits and impacts of biochar produced by fast pyrolysis were modelled and compared with carbon footprint and life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies. Four different kinds of feedstocks were selected. These were two kinds of straw (barley and wheat) and two kinds of wood chips (pine and beech). Pine wood reported the highest net emission with 4.9 1 t CO2 eqt-1 biochar while wheat straw was the lowest with 1.6 t CO2 eqt-1 biochar. This difference was correlated with the composition of lining in the feedstock. At the same time, the major contribution of GHG emission to the system boundary is for the pyrolysis process with the 99% for all feedstocks others aspects also were evaluated. Nine of fourteen impact categories selected were analysed for the LCA methodology. However, absolute values of this assessment remain difficult to interpret, and for that reason a normalisation with European and global loads step was applied. The biggest demonstrable impact from wheat straw charring is on ecotoxicity for aquatic fresh water. It was found that many factors, specially the selection of the type of feedstock in the production of biochar by fast pyrolysis, affect not only the characteristic of the product but also its environmental impacts in a significant level.
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