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The Use of Biochar in Composting

TitleThe Use of Biochar in Composting
Publication TypeWeb Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsCamps, Marta, and Tomlinson Thayer
Series TitleInternational Biochar Initiative

Both compost and biochar production are methods to utilize and recycle organic wastes. This paper provides information on the use of biochar in composting and highlights the potential benefits, which include the ability to accelerate the process of composting and reduce the loss of nutrients, among others. Composting is a technology for the treatment and disposal of biodegradable waste. Almost any food waste, industrial food waste, and sewage sludge can be composted. The main advantages of successful composting are a decrease in waste volume; the elimination of most organic toxic compounds, pathogens and pests (potentially present in the original waste); the transformation of organic matter; and associated nutrients into a product that acts as a slow release fertilizer (referred to as ‘stabilization’ in the compost literature). Biochar is a solid material obtained from the thermochemical conversion of biomass in an oxygen‐limited environment. It has a greater persistence than the uncharred precursor biomass. Biochar can be used as a product itself or as an ingredient within a blended product, with a range of potential applications as an agent for soil improvement. When the right biochar is added to the right soil, biochar can, among other benefits, improve resource use efficiency, remediate and/or protect soils against particular environmental pollution, and become an avenue for greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation.