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Telge Återvinning – a first in Europe for Aussie biochar technology

Biochar is a porous material that can be used as a soil improvement medium. In Sweden, municipal waste management and recycling company Telge Återvinning AB will begin producing biochar as a treatment means for green waste in the spring of 2021. The first-of-its-kind technology in Europe is being supplied by Australia-headed Earth Systems Pty Ltd. The batch technology unit will be shipped from Australia and is expected to arrive in Södertälje at the end of 2020.

In 2015, Earth Systems was awarded a contract to build, install, and commission a full biochar production process based around the CharMaker MPP 20 (20 ft container) technology at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) Corporation in Hong Kong. The unit processes locally-sourced woody biomass resources that meet feedstock specifications and transforms this material into a high-quality biochar product (photo courtesy Earth Systems).

The biochar plant from Earth Systems – Charmaker Mobile Pyrolysis Plant (MPP 40) –  is a containerized, transportable batch pyrolysis technology and consists of three 40 ft (12.19 m) containers. Together they weigh about 18 tonnes.

Sales to customers, which consist of soil producers, are expected to be up and running in the spring of 2021. The soil producers can either mix the biochar themselves with self-produced compost or sell pure biochar to the consumer.

It feels good that we can contribute in an innovative way to meeting Södertälje’s climate goals. We manufacture a super product for arable land that at the same time returns carbon dioxide to the soil. This is completely in line with how Telge Återvinning wants to contribute to a better Södertälje, said Håkan Karlsson, CEO of Telge Återvinning.

First in Europe

Naiara Pereira Cunha, Chairman of the Board of Telge Återvinning, is also satisfied and hopes that the company can contribute to further development in the area.

Being the first in Europe to use this technology is exciting. It is of course a commercial activity that will contribute to the company’s finances, but we hope for a great climate benefit and that this activity promotes technological development in the industry, said Naiara Pereira Cunha.

According to Earth Systems, its CharMaker technology is applicable to any log or stick sized woody biomass – chipping of the biomass is not required. The company has already trialed over 20 feedstocks, some with moisture contents over 50 percent.

A carbonized billet – the CharMaker technology does not require a uniform biomass size. However, biochar crushing post carbonization may be required (photo courtesy Earth Systems).

The technology can also be used to make standard barbecue charcoal as well as biochar and is particularly suitable where transport or economic issues make recovery difficult, chipping costs are expensive, or a process is needed for biomass treatment without smoke emissions such as in an urban environment.

It has been exciting for us at Earth Systems to do this business in Europe for the first time. The collaboration has worked excellently despite the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic and have not had the opportunity to meet. We are both happy and proud to now deliver the first biochar plant to Telge Återvinning, said Nigel Murphy, CEO of Earth Systems.

Development spin-out

The CharMaker technology was originally developed by the Energy and Carbon division of Earth System for the North East Catchment Management Authority (NECMA) as part of Victorian State Government’s Smart Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Market Validation Program (MVP) via the Department of Business and Innovation (DBI).

About Earth Systems

Founded in 1993, Earth Systems is a dynamic multi-disciplinary environmental and social consulting firm that provides specialist advice and hands-on capabilities in areas as diverse as water management and treatment, environmental and social management and impact assessments, waste management, international development, energy and carbon, climate change, sustainability, and environmental information. Earth Systems has successfully completed hundreds of projects in Australia, Asia, Africa, South America, North America, and the Pacific in a wide range of sectors including mining, energy, oil and gas, infrastructure development, urban and rural development, water and wastewater and aid and international development.

The Energy and Carbon division of Earth Systems develops and implements innovative and effective solutions in the energy and carbon sector focused on the development of bioenergy projects that deliver energy and carbon outcomes with net beneficial environmental outcomes. This includes the engineering of biomass, bioenergy, and biochar systems, having designed several configurations of gasification, pyrolysis, and batch carboniser plants for energy, biochar, or pyrolysis oil production.

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