Canada-based torrefaction technology developer and biochar producer Airex Energy Inc., and France-headed waste management and resources major SUEZ Group have jointly announced forming a partnership to provide solutions to regions and industries on their path towards carbon neutrality. The expertise of the two companies will enable them to industrialize the recovery of biomass residues into biochar, which is essential to the resilience, vitality, and fertility of urban and agricultural soils.
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With expertise in the fields of organic residues, soil amendments, agricultural biofertilizers, and smart irrigation, SUEZ will use the “CarbonFX” torrefaction technology developed by Airex Energy for the global deployment of industrial-scale production plants that transform residual lignocellulosic biomass such as bark, sawdust, and waste wood into a stable carbon with high technical and environmental added-value known as “biochar.”
Airex Energy has operated the first and only industrial biochar/biocarbon production plant in Bécancour, Québec (QC) since 2016. Four large-scale production biochar and biocarbon projects are currently in development to serve the markets of Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia.
We are very pleased to partner with the SUEZ Group to accelerate the deployment of CarbonFX technology on a global scale. SUEZ Group is recognized for its expertise in the management, treatment, and recovery of residual organic materials and is a leading partner to develop the industrial production of biochar. Through this partnership, our goal is to have a sustainable impact on climate by producing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of biochar in the years ahead, said Sylvain Bertrand, CEO of Airex Energy.
Extended carbon sink
The conversion of waste wood residues, from silviculture, sawmills, and wood processing industries, into biochar, enables the extension of the “carbon sink” effect of natural plant photosynthesis, which captures a quarter of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year.
Biochar is seen as a viable solution to keep biogenic carbon from the atmosphere by sequestering it in soils for several centuries. When used as a soil amendment, biochar improves plant growth and yields of urban and agricultural soils by enhancing water and nutrient retention, soil aeration, and micro-organisms activity.
The industrial production of biochar from forest residues, resulting from increasingly frequent natural disturbances such as disease, infestation, and storms, is part of the fight against climate change, the management of its impacts, and the adaptation of ecosystems.
New biomass business opportunities
Biochar provides new opportunities to the biomass segment, by delivering a complementary, credible, and perennial energy recovery alternative. It constitutes a certifiable carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) solution while generating major co-benefits in favor of sound and sustainable agriculture, the preservation of natural capital, soils, their ecosystems and water resources.
Due to its intrinsic properties, biochar can also be usefully mixed and combined with a variety of materials, including cement, and thus contribute to improving the carbon footprint of the final product.
Thanks to this new partnership with Airex Energy, we will provide our customers with access to high-quality carbon credits while helping the agricultural industry strengthen soil resilience and food security. The properties of biochar, in terms of carbon capture, but also fertilization of agricultural soils and optimization of water supply to crops, make it one of the most popular CO2 sequestration solutions on the market. Its development is fully in line with our strategy aimed at providing our customers with 100 percent sustainable solutions and thus contributing to the achievement of carbon neutrality, said Diane Galbe, SEVP – Smart & Environmental Solutions BU and Strategy at SUEZ Group.