In conjunction with Earth Day on April 22, US-based gasification technology provider Aries Clean Energy LLC has announced that its Aries GREEN biochar product has earned the 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.
Certification processes needed to ensure consumer confidence
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. However, biochar varies depending on what it is made from and how it is made thus not all biochar is created equal or equally beneficial. Certification processes like the USDA BioPreferred Program or IBI keep the public safe.
The certification of Aries GREEN biochar by both these groups is a great accomplishment. 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. said Gregory Bafalis, CEO of Aries Clean Energy.
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 percent 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.
We applaud Aries Clean Energy for earning the USDA Certified Biobased Product label. 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, said Kate Lewis, USDA BioPreferred Program.
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.
Testing with the University of Tennessee
Bafalis also highlighted that added that Aries Clean Energy has ongoing biochar testing through the University of Tennessee Institute for Agriculture and that the result thus far 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, said Gregory Bafalis.
Together with his students, Dr Forbes Walker, Professor of biosystems engineering and soil science, at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture are currently involved in soil and plant research using biochar.
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 Dr Forbes Walker.
According to Aries Clean Energy, 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 biofuels, thereby reducing carbon dioxide (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.