(753d) Biochar from Excelsior Residues for Plantation Production of Hybrid Poplar

Authors: 
Brewer, C. E., New Mexico State University
Sarpong, K., New Mexico State University
Salazar, A., New Mexico State University
O'Neill, M. K., New Mexico State University
Excelsior is a long fiber material made from wood that was used in many packing applications until the rise in the use of expanded plastics. Today, a common use of excelsior is in natural erosion control materials on construction sites. Residues from excelsior production include bark, excelsior fines, and small bits of other materials used with wood in the erosion control blankets and rolls. In this project, we investigate the potential of a three-way material pathway: making excelsior from plantation-grown hybrid poplar (instead of forest-harvested aspen), producing biochar and process heat through slow pyrolysis of excelsior residues, and using the biochar to amend soils within the hybrid poplar plantation to improve productivity. In the Southwestern U.S., many soils have elevated pH, so there is an opportunity to tailor biochar production for properties that would be advantageous for these soils, such as biochars with lower pH and lower ash contents. Results are presented from the first hybrid poplar growth study on soil amended with excelsior residue-derived biochar, as well as our initial findings related to the feasibility of the hybrid poplar-excelsior-residue biochar material pathway.