Canadian Biomass Magazine

USDA, International Biochar Initiative certify Aries Clean Energy biochar

April 22, 2019
By Aries Clean Energy

April 22, 2019 - In conjunction with the celebration of Earth Day today, Aries Clean Energy is pleased to announce that its Aries GREEN biochar product has earned the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Biobased Product label and certification from the International Biochar Initiative (IBI). The product is now able to display the USDA label and the IBI Certified biochar seal.

Third-party verification for a product’s biobased content is administered through the USDA BioPreferred Program, an initiative created by the 2002 Farm Bill (and most recently expanded by the 2014 Farm Bill). One of the goals of the program is to increase the development, purchase, and use of biobased products.

Independent labs are also utilized for the IBI certification process. In each instance, samples are tested, and the results are sent to USDA and IBI for analysis and final approvals. IBI is the world’s foremost authority and source of credible information on biochar, and it has established itself as an international leader in helping to make sustainable biochar systems commercially viable in order to combat climate change and enhance soils.

The addition of biochar to plants and crops returns carbon to the soil. It also improves plant life by retaining water due to the carbon content of the product. Biochar varies depending on what it is made from and how it is made. Not all biochar is created equal. Certification processes like these keep the public and the planet safe.

“The certification of Aries GREEN biochar by both these groups is a great accomplishment,” said Gregory Bafalis, CEO of Aries Clean Energy. “This will give our product an edge in today’s biochar marketplace. It’s further validation that downdraft gasification is a green solution for wood waste streams.


“Consumers can confidently use this on houseplants, lawns, and gardens knowing that nothing in it is harmful because it has been through independent testing. We are currently working to take Aries GREEN biochar to the public later this year.”

Bafalis added that the ongoing biochar testing through the University of Tennessee Institute for Agriculture is encouraging. “Although results have not been published because the testing is ongoing, preliminary findings show that biochar does make a difference. The crops planted on soil with biochar added are visibly larger and healthier. It has also helped reclaim flood-induced, sand-dense soil into crop producing areas.”

“Our preliminary findings have shown that biochar can be a beneficial soil enhancement because its carbon properties capture and hold water, leading to deeper roots and increased growth,” said Forbes Walker, professor of biosystems engineering and soil science, at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. He and his students are currently involved in soil and plant research using biochar.

“We applaud Aries Clean Energy, LLC for earning the USDA Certified Biobased Product label,” said Kate Lewis, USDA BioPreferred Program. “Products from Aries Clean Energy LLC are contributing to an ever-expanding marketplace that adds value to renewable agriculture commodities, creates jobs in rural communities, and decreases our reliance on petroleum.”

The USDA Certified Biobased Product label displays a product’s biobased content, which is the portion of a product that comes from a renewable source, such as plant, animal, marine, or forestry feedstocks. Aries GREEN is 96 per cent carbon. Utilizing renewable, biobased materials displaces the need for non-renewable petroleum-based chemicals.

The USDA says biobased products, through petroleum displacement, have played an increasingly important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate global climate change. Biobased products are cost-comparative, readily available, and perform as well as or better than their conventional counterparts.

A primary goal of the IBI Biochar Certification Program is to create consumer and marketplace confidence and quality assurances around biochar by creating a standardized, recognized system to certify biochar that meets the IBI Biochar Standards.

The biochar community recognizes IBI as a credible brand. Buyers are assured that biochar with the IBI Certified biochar seal meets the IBI Biochar Standards for material characteristics and passes screening tests for certain potential toxicants.

According to a report that USDA released in 2016, biobased products contributed $393 billion to the U.S. economy.

Biochar used as a soil conditioner has the potential to:

  • Capture excess nitrogen and toxins – protecting waterways and groundwater quality;
  • In making biochar via gasification, create an alternative energy source for generating heat and power, and valuable by-products of syngas and bio-fuels, thereby reducing CO2 emissions;
  • Divert waste wood from local landfills and fees associated with its disposal;
  • Reduce the need for (and use of) fossil-fuels and conventional fertilizers;
  • Turn biomass and biowaste into value-added products while creating jobs, and
  • Safely sequester CO2 for thousands of years, which slows climate change.

For more information about IBI, 

For more information on the USDA program,

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