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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Soil and Water Management Research

2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Production of biochar from distillers grain and corn stover using microwave pyrolysis. 2. Impact of distillers grain and corn stover biochar on soil fertility and carbon sequestration potential.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Overall, we seek to increase the value of distillers grain by sequestering carbon and producing additional renewable energy. More specifically, we will have an optimized process for making biofuels and biochar based fertilizers and soil improvement agents from an existing by-product steam. We will have a short-term demonstration of potential value of a bioenergy co-product to increase soil fertility and carbon sequestration (using soil respiration as an indicator of C loss). The potential long-term outcome of this research is the development and promotion of on-farm energy production using a combination of corn stover and distillers grain as a feedstock to improve the sustainability of corn production with biochar amendments.

3. Progress Report
This was the first year of this 2 year project. The goal of this project is to increase the value of distillers grain by sequestering carbon and producing additional renewable energy resources (bio-oil and syngas) through microwave assisted pyrolysis. The main accomplishments for this fiscal year included: 1. Creation of biochar from the microwave assisted pyrolysis using corn stover and dried distillers grain in 5 different ratios (0-100, 25-75, 50-50, 75-25, and 100-0% w/w). 2. Percentage of each byproduct (char, bio-oil and biogas) was monitored. 3. Residual chars have been sent for chemical and physical analysis. 4. Laboratory incubations have been initiated with the various biochars to evaluate impact on greenhouse production and nutrient cycling. This project relates directly to Objective 1a of the Farming Practices for the Northern Corn Belt to Protect Soil Resources, Support Biofuel Production and Reduce Global Warming Potential research project by determining farming practices that have the potential of reducing GHG emissions at the plot level through biochar additions. Methods of monitoring this project have included discussing project plans at conferences, as well as teleconferences. Personal communication and email communication occur on the progress of the project. Biannual reports are submitted to the funding agency. In addition, the funding agency is updated on the status of the research and publications between the interim reports by email.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 05/29/2017
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