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Comment Sustainability

Suez and Airex Energy to commercialize biochar carbon-capture technology

By Mary Page Bailey |

SUEZ Group (Paris) and Airex Energy (Bécancour, Quebec, Canada) have formed a partnership in order to provide solutions to regions and industries on their path towards carbon neutrality. The expertise of the two Groups will enable them to industrialize the recovery of biomass residues into biochar (a stable form of organic carbon), which is essential to the resilience, vitality and fertility of urban and agricultural soils.

With expertise in the fields of organic residues, soil amendments, agricultural biofertilizers and smart irrigation, SUEZ will use the CarbonFX torrefaction technology developed by Airex Energy for the global deployment of industrial-scale production plants that transform residual lignocellulosic biomass (bark, sawdust, waste wood, etc.) into a stable carbon with high technical and environmental added-value known as “biochar.”

The conversion of waste wood residues, from silviculture to the lumber and wood processing industries, into biochar enables the extension of the “carbon sink” effect of natural plant photosynthesis, which captures a quarter of global CO2 emissions each year. Biochar is a viable solution to remove carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in soils for several centuries. When used as a soil amendment, biochar improves plant growth and yields of urban and agricultural soils by enhancing water and nutrient retention, soil aeration and micro-organisms activity.

The industrial production of biochar from forest residues, resulting from increasingly frequent natural accidents (disease, infestation, storms, etc.), is part of the fight against climate change, the management of its impacts and the adaptation of ecosystems. Biochar provides new opportunities to the biomass segment, by delivering a complementary, credible and perennial energy recovery alternative. It constitutes a certified CCUS solution while generating major co-benefits in favor of sound and sustainable agriculture, the preservation of natural capital, soils, their ecosystems and water resources. 

Due to its intrinsic properties, biochar can also be usefully mixed and combined with a variety of materials, including cement, and thus contribute to improving the carbon footprint of the final product.

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