Researchers at the University of Concepción are using the solid waste from poultry and pigs in the region of Bío Bío in central Chile to produce biochar and thermal energy.

Professor Cristina Muñoz and Cristina Segura are exploring the technical and economic issues of using strong heat – pyrolysis – to recovering the energy locked up in organic waste from poultry and pig farms to produce biochar and energy. The process appears to be a green option for the treatment of materials that would otherwise have the potential to add to greenhouse gas emissions or groundwater pollution.

Segura explained that large quantities of organic waste – slurry, manure, bedding materials, feathers and spilt feed – are produced by the region’s poultry and pig farms. The pyrolytic process results in a carbon material known as biochar and thermal energy in a safe, environmentally friendly and cost-effective way, say the researchers.

Due to be completed in October this year, the project is funded by the Regional Government of Bío Bío.

Muñoz explained that the first aim of the project has been achieved, namely to obtain a homogeneous and marketable material. Now, the biochar is being evaluated by the University as a soil improver for a wide range of horticultural applications.