June 02nd 2020

The new black gold – charcoal!

Use of charcoal in “industrial” agriculture

The climate crisis is increasingly noticeable in Austria. Harvests are destroyed by drought and heavy rain, pests and droughts affect the local forests. The topic is extremely complex and only various solutions can cope with this global crisis. A concept that can help to solve this problem is currently being investigated in the EHIL research project at the MCI.

As part of this research project, high-quality compost is produced from regionally available biogenic resources. This compost differs from conventional composts by a small but crucial additive, charcoal. The qualitative charcoal is created as a by-product in a local wood-fired power station, which mainly converts wood into electricity and heat. Initial results show that the use of charcoal can accelerate the composting process. Applied to agricultural land, the new type of compost is intended to help protect the nutrients from washing out and to store the water in the soil in the long term in particularly dry periods. This gives farmers the opportunity to react to the increasing extreme weather events. Previous studies also show that the use of charcoal on agricultural land can lead to increased yield. The highlight of this concept? Charcoal not only contributes to food security, but also stores the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the long term. Climate, water and soil protection with regional added value combined in an innovative concept that must now prove itself in practice.

In the usual MCI manner, this project is carried out in a practice-oriented manner with experts from industry. Giner Kartoffel & Gemüse GmbH, DAKA Entsorgungsunternehmen GmbH & Co. KG and TerraTirol KG are involved in this project. The project is financed by the Tyrolean innovation funding.

For further information, please contact:

Thomas Hämmerle
Teaching & Research Assistant
Department Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
+43 512 2070 – 3245