June 27, 2018 – Air Burners, a US-based manufacturer of air curtain burner systems, and the US Forest Service have entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) that will explore the use of patented Air Burners technology to convert unwanted biomass into Biochar.
Within the US Forest Service’s core mission is the promotion of sustainable forest management, including restoration efforts. Forest restoration projects leave behind a significant amount of wood waste or biomass. As biomass has low market value and is expensive to process and transport, it is typically collected into large piles and burned or left to decompose. However, a product called Biochar can be created from biomass and is proving effective in aiding the regrowth and rejuvenation of forests after forest fires. At a cost of around $1000/ton, Biochar is also highly marketable, translating to more affordable forest fuels management and more restoration efforts overall.
The US Forest Service has identified Air Burners technology as a potentially highly effective vehicle for producing this valuable Biochar. Air Burners systems are widely recognized as the most environmentally friendly machines in the world for rapidly eliminating biomass. However, by virtue of their design and operation, they produce only a modest amount of Biochar.
The goal of the Federal CRADA is to explore design augmentations and operational adjustments to Air Burners machines, starting with its BurnBoss®, to optimize the production of Biochar in the forest where Biochar production is the primary objective. This would allow for the elimination of wood debris from harvest operations and the production of Biochar directly in forests, enabling the onsite application of Biochar to the forest floor or the collection of the Biochar for use elsewhere, as needed.
Brian O’Connor, President, is enthusiastic about the implications of the agreement. “We’re truly excited about the prospect of our technology helping bring American forests back to life. It’s rare for an organization of the size and scope of the Forest Service to partner with a medium-sized company such as ours and being invited to work together to solve a real environmental challenge is both an honor and a testament to the proven effectiveness and promise of our technology.”
This is the second CRADA Air Burners has participated in, the first being with the U.S. EPA.