Biochar is a renewable form of carbon that can be produced from any carbon-containing biomass. This is done by treating biomass with high temperatures while excluding oxygen. My research focuses on using pyrolysis via gasification technology to produce biochar that can be used as filler materials for rubber composites (replacing carbon black, a byproduct of fossil fuels). Another area of interest is taking advantage of the naturally porous structure of biochar to use it in sorptive media applications. For example, recently I have been collaborating with fellow ARS researcher Steve Vaughn to utilize biochar as a peat moss replacement.
Specific areas of study include:
• Evaluating/characterizing feedstocks for biochar production
• Modifying the surface chemistry of biochar
• Biochar size reduction methods
Results of this research will be rubber composite filler that will be renewable and compete with carbon black, along with improving gasification methods and feedstock selection to help make biochar production feasible on a wider scale.