Documentation of long-term carbon stability in biochar

Biochar is produced by pyrolysis under oxygen-deficient conditions from residues and waste products from the agriculture and waste sectors. This biological Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) technique reduces atmospheric CO2 content and has the potential to store large amounts of carbon for geological time. The aim of the project is to use geological analysis techniques as a means of optimizing production of inert, non-degradable carbon for the long-term stability in soil. The proposed project will uniquely utilize the state-of-the-art methods typically used in organic petrology and organic geochemistry together with advanced x-ray and spectroscopy techniques to determine carbon permanence of biochar in the context of the deep geological carbon cycle in the Earth’s crust. The proposed methodology stands on the shoulders of decades of in-depth geological knowledge of organic matter preservation and characterization using organic petrographic, geochemical and thermodynamic modelling techniques. This novel approach to the solution of biochar stability is distinctly different from the common microbiological incubation methods and the project has thus no immediate competitors.

Combination of acquired data and thermodynamic kinetic modelling will enable us to standardize the optimal characteristics of the permanent biochar from comparative study of the geologically preserved natural chars in carbonaceous rocks (e.g., coal and shales). The results of this research can optimize biochar production in terms of heating rate and maximum pyrolysis temperature to achieve the most stable carbon for long-term permanence in soil. Know-how of biochar formation technology and biochar permanence properties may have export potential and a low-cost reliable method to demonstrate long-term stability of biochar could be a game-changer for the biochar industry.

Research on farmer knowledge about biochar and their related perceptions and willingness to adopt the technology in their agricultural production is almost non-existing. Accordingly, both the biochar technology value chain and politicians have virtually no knowledge about Danish farmer’ knowledge, perceptions, and willingness to adopt biochar in their production. However, biological carbon storage will likely have larger citizen acceptance if long-term stability can be demonstrated. Our project will give a solid state of the art contribution to a virtual research gap by monitoring the readiness of biochar among farmers, and test how biochar familiarity, biochar characteristics and information supports the readiness and willingness to adopt. This will be achieved by conducting stakeholder meetings with farmers at farmer association events and carrying out surveys among a representative sample 2000+ farmers.

The project will be efficiently executed in three work packages led by experienced senior researchers/project leaders with a long-standing track record of research, project creation, and project management. The project participants include highly experienced subject matter experts in the fields of organic carbon characterization and social science and humanities, which will secure the necessary expertise is available to fulfill the project’s objectives. The industry partners will cover the producers and distributors of the value chain, while the end-user (consumers) is represented by Danish farmer associations. Regularly project meetings will be held for ensuring project progress and data sharing according to the project plan.

The results of the project will be made available for the project partners (biochar industry and farmers/users) and publicly communicated in publications. The recipe for making long-term stable biochar can be readily applied by the biochar producers and turned into added value for the project partners and the society.


6.893.733 DKK

Funding from IFD: 4.944.788 DKK
Financing from project partners: 1.948.945 DKK

Project lead

Henrik Ingermann Petersen


New INNO-CCUS Pool 2 project. Details will follow.

New INNO-CCUS Pool 2 project. Details will follow.