Biochar Facility

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What is biochar?

We're opening a Biochar Facility at Lysterfield Waste Transfer Site which we anticipate will be ready by October 2022.

The biochar produced will be available for sale to farmers, horticulturalists and home gardeners.

Biochar is a carbon-rich form of charcoal that can be added to soil providing many benefits including:

  • Increased soil fertility
  • Increased water holding capacity
  • Improved crop yields
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions

By creating biochar, we are effectively capturing carbon and locking it into the soil. This helps draw down carbon from the atmosphere which mitigates climate change.

How is biochar made?

Biochar is produced from woody materials such as prunings and fallen branches.

The process for turning woody materials into biochar is known as Pyrolysis. Pyrolysis involves heating the woody materials in an oxygen-limited environment. 

In the future we also hope to capture some of the excess heat and transform this to electrical energy to help run the facility and export to the grid.

Watch the webinar

 

Biochar FAQs

What is biochar?

Biochar is a carbon-rich product made from woody material, such as branches and pruned material. The waste is transformed into biochar at high temperatures in a low oxygen environment, during a process known as “Pyrolysis”


What can biochar be used for?

The biochar product can be used to promote healthy plant growth and capture carbon:

  • In Council tree planting projects
  • On farms and in gardens


What are the benefits of biochar?

Biochar is a soil enhancer. When applied correctly it makes available nutrients and moisture for healthy plant growth, its production draws down net carbon from the atmosphere and creates employment opportunities.

The process of creating biochar also can contribute to improved air quality, through reduced burning off.

Why is Council establishing a biochar facility?

Council’s Liveable Climate Plan states that Council intends to be sourcing 100% renewable energy by 2030 and be at Net Zero Emissions by 2040. A future enhancement of the facility will see the heat energy produced converted into electricity.

The Yarra Ranges region has a lot of woody material, some of which is disposed of through open air burning or being chipped for mulch. By establishing a biochar facility, we can produce a high value product from low value woody material.

Council is committed to mitigating climate change and offering innovative support for our local farming and horticulture community, along with home growers in the region.

What is the difference between biomass and biochar?

Biomass is a term used to describe the biological source or feedstock to produce biochar. In this case the biomass is woody material from fallen trees and branches from road reserves, parks and gardens that in turn gets turned into biochar.

What kind of wood waste can be used in the making of biochar?

  • Fallen branches from gardens, reserves and roadsides.
  • Pruned material from farms, roadsides and back yards.
  • Wood waste from arborists.

Council’s preference is for the woody material to be sourced from within the Yarra Ranges or neighbouring local government areas.

How much biochar is expected to be produced?

It is expected that approximately 1000m3 of biochar can be produced each year, or the equivalent of 9 -10 double decker buses.

What emissions are produced from the biochar facility?

Emissions are extremely low and are within EPA guidelines.

Will there be any odour from the facility?

It is not expected that there will be any noticeable odours from the facility.

What noise is produced by the biochar facility?

The noise from plant and machinery is not expected to be noticeable outside the Waste Transfer Station.

What hours will the biochar facility be operating?

Normal operating hours will be from 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday. It is not expected that the facility will be in operation during the weekend though Council reserves the right to allow weekend operation in accordance with the current permissible operating hours of the Waste Transfer Station.

How big is the plant equipment?

There will be several pieces of plant used on site. The main “continuous” plant will be housed under a special roofed structure with an area of less than 100 square metres.

This will all be contained on the existing Lysterfield Waste Transfer Station.


How many truckloads per day are expected to the biochar facility?

It is expected that there will be approximately two truckloads per day, bringing in woody material to the site.


Can I use the biochar facility for my own wood waste?

In the first stage the facility will not be available for the general public to use.


Will there be a need to remove any vegetation to set up the biochar site?

No.

How is this biochar facility being funded?

This initiative is funded by $500,000 from the State Government’s Growing Suburbs Fund and Council matching this.

Why was the Lysterfield site chosen for this facility?

The Lysterfield Waste Transfer Station was chosen as it is a Council owned facility, with 3 phase electricity supply and current waste operations on site. The site off Wellington Rd is easily accessible from the Dandenong Ranges and also neighbouring local government areas of Knox and Cardinia.

 

Contact

For more information on the Biochar facility please contact Julian Guess on 1300 368 333 or mail@yarraranges.vic.gov.au.