Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) has been awarded a program from the Department of Energy to demonstrate an economically viable process to produce low-cost biochar for soil amendment applications and reduce the damage to Lake Erie and surrounding communities due to algal blooms.
Lake Erie’s western basin has harmful algal blooms and frequent “dead zones” (areas of low oxygen level). The annual algal blooms threaten water quality of Lake Erie and surrounding communities have seen contaminated drinking water, closed beaches, and damage to fishing and tourism industries. The algae grows out of control when excessive phosphorus enters the lake. The phosphorus comes from agricultural fertilizers, wastewater, and septic systems up-stream of the lake.
PSI is working with local organizations to enable the economic collection of algae and produce a valuable product (bio-char) through pyrolysis, resulting in net negative emissions, carbon sequestration, and phosphorus reduction. We have developed a small-scale, innovative bio-gas (evaporated bio-oils and syngas) burner that provides heat necessary for pyrolysis and will use these community driven design specifications to adapt the small-scale pyrolysis technology to a larger pilot plant to convert algae to bio-char. Biochar will be used as fertilizer for surrounding communities and farms, displacing conventional fertilizers and thereby reducing the amount of new phosphorus added to the ecosystem.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Peter Warren
Executive Vice President, Materials Division
Physical Sciences Inc.
Telephone: (978) 689-0003