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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Soil and Water Management Research

2012 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 final 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 progress for this fiscal year includes: 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 characterized for chemical and physical properties. 4. Mixture of soil + biochar have been evaluated for potential soil nutrient alterations. 5. Laboratory incubations have been initiated with the various biochars to evaluate impact on greenhouse production and nutrient cycling. 6. Greenhouse studies are underway examining initial growth and emergence impacts of these biochars. This project relates directly to Objective 2a and 2b of the parent research project.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 07/23/2017
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