Energy balance and greenhouse gas emissions from the production and sequestration of charcoal from agricultural residues

Highlights

This study assesses the production and landfilling of biomass-based charcoal.

Centralized and portable systems for charcoal production were considered.

GHG emissions over life cycle of charcoal production and landfilling were assessed.

The cumulative energy demand was the lowest for portable systems.

The GHG emissions reduction was highest in the portable systems.

Abstract

Agricultural residues (wheat/barley/oat straw) can be used to produce charcoal, which can then be either landfilled off-site or spread on the agricultural field as a means for sequestering carbon. One centralized and five portable charcoal production technologies were explored in this paper. The centralized system produced 747.95 kg-CO2eq/tonne-straw and sequestered 0.204 t-C/t-straw. The portable systems sequestered carbon at 0.141–0.217 t-C/t-straw. The net energy ratio (NER) of the portable systems was higher than the centralized one at 10.29–16.26 compared to 6.04. For the centralized system, the carbon sequestration and the cumulative energy demand were most sensitive to the charcoal yield. Converting straw residues into charcoal can reduce GHG emissions by 80% after approximately 8.5 years relative to the baseline of in-field decomposition, showing these systems are effective carbon sequestration methods.

Keywords

  • Greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Charcoal production;
  • Net energy ratio;
  • Life cycle assessment;
  • Lignocellulosic biomass

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