We are developing our project with the intent of starting as a small operation that can be replicated and scale almost indefinitely. Being located in the mountaineous region of the Alpujarra, we have therefore decided to start by impacting our direct environment, in which wood from olive and fruit trees prunning is by far the most available feedstock. Additionally to being widely available, it has the advantage of an inconvenience to local farmers and landowners who mostly burn the fresh wood on site, which in turn is responsible for high air pollution and risks of wildfires in every valley of the region during the pruning season (December to February).
Recently, the regional government has announced it is planning to pass a law prohibiting the burning of pruning residues altogether (due to the risk of wildfires being increased with climate change). This will leave local farmers and landowners with fewer opportunity to dispose of the accumulating biomass.
We are aiming to split the project into various phases, each will involve different feedstock type:
Phase 1: October - December 2023
Use of a prototype kiln (Kiln 1) built using reused metal from a local steel workshop in order to make biochar out of wood residues left from previous seasons. The amount of biomass available will be limited (less that 2 tonnes), but the aim at this stage will be to produce biochar for demonstration purposes, in order to have the preliminary results necessary to convince the local council to support our project in initiating phase 2.The feedstock available has been identified as:
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus sp.) - between 1 and 2 tonnes
Nettle tree (Celtis australis) - 300 kg
Mulberry tree (Morus sp.) - 200 kg
Apricot tree (Prunus sp.) - 50 kg
Pictures of the identified feedstock have been provided as part of this post. We are currently working with local landowners to gather more dry feedstock for this phase 1.