The St Andrews Prize for the Environment

University of St Andrews


2008 Finalist

Slow Pyrolysis Technology

Slow Pyrolysis Technology

Local solutions to global problems

“I think this is one of the most exciting and important new technologies out there, in terms of stabilising our climate,” says Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers, on Pyrolysis and Agrichar™ production, May 2007.

The slow pyrolysis process has risen to today’s global greenhouse challenge by being the only technology to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits – a world first for energy generation technology.

Slow pyrolysis provides sustainable energy solutions by converting waste material into clean power and creating value added products. These solutions include the provision of clean electricity and heat for local consumption, a high quality soil amendment with proven agricultural benefits, and overall sustainability of natural resources and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Slow pyrolysis decomposes organic material (biomass) at increased temperature and in the absence of oxygen. As feed material is dried, and passed through a heated kiln, it gives off a gas which is continuously removed and used to generate energy in much the same way as natural gas or liquid petroleum gas.

The feed material is converted to a high carbon “char” a product which can be used as a soil amendment Agrichar™, fuel, or as a filtration medium. Carbon stored in the Agrichar™ material is far more stable than in the original biomass and initial research suggests that by the end of this century pyrolysis programmes could result in carbon in soil storage levels of up to 9.5 billion tons per year.

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