Canadian Biomass Magazine

News Torrefaction
SUEZ Group, Airex Energy partner to restore soil quality via biochar solution


June 21, 2021
By Airex Energy

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A partnership has been formed between the SUEZ Group and Airex Energy, enabling the parties to industrialize the recovery of biomass residues into biochar.

Biochar is a stable form of organic carbon that is important to the resilience, vitality and fertility or urban and agricultural soils.

SUEZ will use the CarbonFX torrefaction technology developed by Airex Energy for the global deployment of industrial-scale production plants. The plants transform residual lignocellulosic biomass into a stable carbon with high technical and environmental added-value, known as biochar. Lignocellulosic biomass includes bark, sawdust and waste wood.

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, it improves plant growth and yields of urban and agricultural soils by enhancing water and nutrient retention, soil aeration and micro-organisms activity.

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The industrial production of biochar from forest residues, resulting from increasingly frequent natural accidents – such as 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 favour of sound and sustainable agriculture, the preservation of natural capital, soils, their ecosystems and water resources.

“The properties of biochar, in terms of carbon capture, but also fertilization of agricultural soils and optimization of water supply to crops, make it one of the most popular CO2 sequestration solutions on the market,” Diane Galbe, SUEZ Group SEVP, Smart & Environmental Solutions global business unit and strategy, said. “Its development is fully in line with our strategy  aimed at providing our customers with 100% sustainable solutions and thus contributing to the achievement of carbon neutrality.”

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

“SUEZ Group is recognized for its expertise in the management, treatment and recovery of residual organic materials and is a leading partner to develop the industrial production of biochar,” Sylvain Bertrand, CEO of Airex Energy, said. “Through this partnership, our goal is to have a sustainable impact on climate by producing hundreds of thousands of tons of biochar in the years ahead.”