Scientists are reporting that biochar, which is a material that the Amazonian Indians used to enhance soil fertility centuries ago, has the potential in the modern world to help slow global climate change. Mass production of biochar could capture carbon that otherwise would wind up in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Their report appears in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a bi-weekly journal.
It has only recently been realized that pyrogenic carbon or biochar or charcoal, can make up a significant fraction of the organic carbon in soils and sediments. As such, it is an important but poorly understood portion of the global carbon cycle. Biochar also may be useful as an additive to soils to enhance fertility.