Ecoera

Ecoera discovered the recipe for using nearly any agricultural waste – sawdust, straw, energy grasses, bark – as raw material for energy-producing biomass pellets. Now, Ecoera not only can develop systems that turn this bio-trash into ready cash, they are premiering a market-driven platform that transforms the pellets into syngas and biochar, then sequesters the biochar in fields to help keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

BIOAGRO, the residue-to-energy system Ecoera helped co-develop, is now in motion in southern Sweden churning out pellets at a rate of three tons an hour. From there, pellets can be slowly pyrolysed into both syngas, a “renewable” fuel, as well as turned into the stable form of carbon called biochar. Instead of burning that biochar for fuel, Ecoera deploys the biochar back onto agricultural soils, where it enhances crops (by serving as a growth catalyst) as well as reliably warehousing CO2 away from the atmosphere. Ecoera is marketing this stored CO2 as a carbon offset to interested companies, while simultaneously selling the biochar for soil enhancement to farmers. The syngas can currently be sold for heating, or potentially for upgrading to more advanced bio-fuel uses.

Ecoera is calling its system BIOSFAIR – a fair and sustainable method for a) taking ag waste into biogas and biochar; b) turning that carbon-rich biochar back into the soil where it can be held for around a millenia; and c) providing a sequestration service to companies and others needing to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

Estimates put the energy content of available agricultural residue biomass in 16 European nations alone at 471 TWh. If 10% of this potential were to be utilized with Ecoera technology and turned into pellets, this would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 39 million tons by reducing fossil fuel use.

Pyrolysing the pellets into biochar and returning the biochar to soils as a soil amendment is of further climate benefit. The biochar serves as a catalyst for microbial processes in the soil as well as holding nutrients to make them more available for plants. As the biochar is estimated to remain stable in soils for around 1,000 years, its sequestration effects are easy to quantify. The BIOSFAIR system includes a transparent audit trail from the biomass residue through to biochar’s storage as field amendment. Ecoera is geotagging its sequestration areas for tracing and verification.

In 2009 Ecoera made the transition to begin marketing its BIOSFAIR system for biochar creation and carbon sequestration. Four customers signed on for this new carbon sequestration-based offsetting system this year - a US environmental consultancy firm, the International Bioenergy Days conference, a White Guide restaurant, and a business traveller.

Ecoera presented the BIOSFAIR solution at four different venues at the December 2009 Copenhagen COP15 Climate conference, using the talks as a kick-off for the company’s coming year of expanding business endeavors.

David Andersson, Ecoera CEO, M.Sc. Bioentrepreneurship from Chalmers University of Technology and Lund University; and Christopher Hedvall, business development, M.Sc. Chalmers University of Technology. Advisors: Folke Günther, biochar expert and managing director, Holon Ecosystems; Fredrik Carlman, investment manager Swedfund International; Marika Swärdström, senior executive at Carbon Capital Ventures. Board members: Bengt-Erik Löfgren, CEO ÄFAB; Sven Olof Bernhoff, CEO of seed company Skånefrö (adopting biochar in field trials); Morgan Skarin, vice president Encubator Holding AB.