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Biochar Research Group - Pakistan

The Biochar Research Group, Pakistan (created 2015) has the following objectives:

  • To make a forum for research & development of Biochar in Pakistan
  • To exploit the potentials (GHG, Soil, Energy, etc.) of Bio-char for Pakistan
  • To establish a data bank of Bio-char
  • To prepare research projects to be submitted at national and international level
  • To introduce low cost technologies for Bio-char production and its applications
  • To arrange capacity building workshops and seminars on Bio-char at different universities of Pakistan
  • To raise the awareness of the community about Biochar utilisatiuon
  • To go for transfer of technology & knowledge to Pakistan related to Biochar
  • To go for publication Biochar related Journal Papers

Lead Scientist/Contacts

Prof. Dr. Amir Haider Malik (PhD TU Berlin, Germany), Centre for Climate Research and Development (CCRD), COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), Park Road, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, Pakistan, Tel: +92-51-9247000-9247002, Fax: +92 - 51 - 9247006
Cell: 0092 - 300 - 58 11 639, ahmalik@comsats.edu.pk; http://www.ccrd.edu.pk

Member Scientists/Organizations

  • Secretary: Mr. Arkham Wahid, Project Manager, Gujranwala Waste Management Company, Gujranwala, Paskistan
  • Dr. ZahidMahmood Khan, BZ University Multan
  • Dr. Abdul Mateen, Geochemist, Geo-engineers, Islamabad
  • Dr. Sajid Hussain Shah, Pyrolysis-Biochar, Deptt of Env Sciences, Abbottabad
  • Dr. Naeem Rasheed, Department of Environmental Sciences, CIIT, Abbottabad
  • Dr. Mohsin Raza, Assistant Professor CCRD, CIIT, Islamabad
  • Mr. Tayyab Shahzad, Consultant to the Ministry of Climate Change, Islamabad
  • Mr. Ishtiaq Khan, Department of Energy Management, CIIT Islamabad
  • Mr. Shafqat Ellahi, Higo Organic (Pvt. Ltd) Company, Haripur, KPK, Pakistan
  • Ms. Habia Khalid, Consultant, Abbottabad, KPK, Pakistan

Future work planning

Under the Umbrella of this group an international workshop will be organized on the potential of Biochar especially in the developing countries with special reference to Pakistan with involvement of DAAD funded project partner i.e., TUBS, Germany.

The Chief Organizer (Lead Scientist) and Secretary of the said research group are already working on the project of “Conversion of organic waste into Biochar” funded by DAAD Germany (2014-15) in collaboration with the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany.

Background

Biochar is a form of charcoal produced through the thermo chemical process of biomass under low oxygen conditions known as pyrolysis. Various types of biomass such as agricultural crop residues, forestry residues, wood waste, organic portion of municipal solid waste (MSW) and animal manures have been proposed as feedstock for biochar production. However, the suitability of each type of biomass as feedstock is dependent on the nature, chemical composition, environmental as well as economic and logistical factors (Verheijen, 2010).

The technology that is most frequently discussed for producing biochar is pyrolysis; its conditions for biochar production, together with feedstock characteristics largely control the physical and chemical properties (e.g. composition, particle and pore size distribution) of the resulting biochar, which determine the suitability for a given application. Biochar is highly intractable in soils, with reported residence times for wood biochar being in the range of 100s to 1000s of years, i.e. approximately 10–1000 times longer than residence times of most soil organic matter (SOM). Therefore, biochar addition to soils could provide a potential sink for carbon (Verheijen, 2010).

There has been much recent interest in biochar as a way of stabilizing photosynthetic carbon, usually with associated energy by-products (syngas, bio-liquid sand/or heat) (Lehmann and Joseph, 2009).

The world energy assessment provides analytical background and scientific information for decision-makers at all levels. It describes energy’s fundamental relationship to sustainable development and analyses how energy can serve as an instrument to reach that goal (Powlson, 2011).

Apart from a more economical use of fossil fuel, the application of regenerative energy source should be advanced in order to reduce CO2 emissions. In order to achieve a noticeable CO2 reduction, as well as fossil fuel substitution, it is desirable to use quite large quantities of biomass for energy production (Deventer, 2007).
Application of biochar to soils is currently gaining considerable interest globally due to its potential to improve soil nutrient retention capacity, water holding capacity, and also to sustainably store carbon, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Enhanced nutrient retention and water holding capacity of soils reduces the total fertilizer requirements and environmental deterioration associated with fertilizers (Yeboah, 2009).

Biochar is charcoal from incomplete combustion of organic waste. When mixed into soil, biochar is stable, and thus its carbon is removed from the carbon cycle.
This mitigates climate change and transfers a waste product into a valuable resource. In addition energy is generated within the combustion process. The offset for climate is substantial; If all rice husk in, for example, Indonesia was converted to biochar and mixed into the soil, it would compensate the whole of Norwegian climate gas emissions. (around 50 million ton CO2 per year).

Due to its alkaline reaction, biochar also increases soil quality by reducing soil acidity. Especially in sandy soils, biochar can increase the water-holding capacity to alleviate water stress of plants. In addition, biochar can also reduce nutrient leaching, pesticide run off and organic pollutant bioavailability. All of these in combination can increase seed germination, plant growth and crop yield.

This related benefits from the Biochar to the environment makes it a unique and emerging filed in last 5 to 10 years and the number of programs and research that focus on biochar have greatly expanded over the last 5 years in all over the world especially in the developed countries. 

Despite of the several applications of Biochar in the field of environment, the research on this component in Pakistan is neglected or comparatively low as compared to other countries and the work done is not disseminated among the scientist working in the field of environment. Thus there is a need of a platform where research on the Biochar should be carried out jointly there is a need to establish such a platform where all the researchers from different institutions of Pakistan should gather and not only work on the Biochar but also make a data bank related to the Biochar which help the research scientists, students, community of farmers and industry interested to work in the field of Biochar. This type of Biochar group will be also act as a platform to prepare & implement joint research projects on national and international level.