Technology transfer :Efficient wood gasification stoves that save 50% on firewood and enable smoke-free cooking. As this is a pyrolysis technology, biochar is produced as a by-product. Once the biochar is in the soil, the soil quality improves and carbon is stored.
Local environment :Avoidance of deforestation in the region and reduction of indoor air pollution, fertilisation of depleted soils after years of chemical fertiliser use
Further advantages :Time and cost savings in the procurement of firewood, fewer respiratory diseases thanks to almost smoke-free cooking, additional income
Jobs :New jobs in the coal collection chain, in the production of fertiliser and in agricultural consulting
Project partners :Sapient Infotech (small company from Calcutta)

In India, atmosfair produces biochar directly in the villages and without expensive machinery, using our small Indian-made household stoves from our local partner Sapient Infotech. In the pilot project in West Bengal, India, employees collect the charcoal produced from the household stoves, crush it and enrich it with fertiliser. In a next step, they distribute the enriched biochar to farmers, who apply it to their soil during the planting season. The application of biochar creates a CO2 sink, while at the same time adding valuable nutrients to the soil.

The procurement, enrichment and introduction of biochar

In the pilot phase of the project, we buy the charcoal from 1000 households that cook with the efficient household stove. The biochar is a by-product of regular cooking activities with the household stove. Each household produces around 30kg of charcoal per month, which is collected and purchased by field assistants on a weekly basis. Our Indian partners crush the collected biochar and mix it with the collected cow urine to make a valuable fertiliser. They then take a precisely measured quantity of sacks to the fields where crops are grown. During the planting season, the farmers then apply the biochar fertiliser to the soil.

The development of a local infrastructure

The pilot project in West Bengal is establishing the necessary infrastructure to build a bridge between the production of biochar and its use on agricultural fields. The establishment of this structure will create a local biochar network. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions by creating a carbon sink using biochar, the project creates important local jobs and offers educational opportunities for farmers to effectively cultivate fields without conventional fertilisers. What is particularly exciting is that we receive feedback, especially from older farmers, that they remember how charcoal was also used in their own childhood to make the soil fertile. With this project, we are also revitalising centuries-old knowledge.

A look into the future

The infrastructure created by our pilot project is an important basis for the future development of the project. We plan to expand the project by purchasing larger quantities of biochar from households and processing it in a centralised fertiliser factory into an organic fertiliser that is perfectly adapted to the conditions. We offer the buyers training in the best techniques for fertilising and planting.

Backgroundinformation biochar

Plants absorb CO2 from the air through solar energy and incorporate carbon into their cell structures. In doing so, they naturally remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Humans can process plant biomass into biochar before decomposition begins, preventing the release of CO2. The carbon remains stored in the earth for centuries in the form of biochar, even when it is simply applied to the topsoil or plowed under. Biochar resists biological decomposition in the soil due to its unique structure. To ensure its effectiveness, the ratio of hydrogen to organic carbon in the composition of biochar must fall below a certain threshold, as outlined in the document (Persistence of biochar in soil). This can be conclusively tested in the laboratory. When this ratio is achieved, science indicates that a maximum of 0.3% of biochar is decomposed annually, as stated in the document (Senkenpotenzial), resulting in minimal CO2 emissions. After 100 years, at least 74% of the carbon is securely bound in the soil. This calculation subtracts all emissions generated during the project when determining the negative emission.

Biochar has many other positive effects. In addition to binding CO2 in the soil, it can also be used as a carrier material for nutrients and thus to enrich the soil. In tropical soils in particular, it can lead to increased crop yields. The biochar absorbs the water from heavy rainfall in the monsoon and releases it back to the plants over a period of weeks. As a water reservoir, it prevents nutrients from being flushed out of the soil. Other important factors also come into play: the basic cycles of the ecosystem are maintained. The biochar is returned to the soil exactly where the plants grew. Important minerals and trace elements are retained and the soil does not leach out. Biochar thus combines carbon storage with sustainable agriculture.

Our Partner

Sapient Infotech is a small company from Calcutta. In all its activities, Sapient always has the well-being of the climate and the local population in mind. Sapient operates the stove factory and does not shy away from going directly into the villages and working with the people there. In rural areas, Sapient has built up a network of field assistants and sells the cooking stoves directly to the families. For the biochar project, Sapient is venturing into new areas and is building a fertiliser factory together with agricultural experts. Once again, the ultimate goal is to provide farmers with an organic and efficient fertiliser for their fields and to allow the local population to benefit directly from the project.

Klara Kellner
Project Manager
M.Sc. Civil Engineering
+49 (0) 30 120 84 80 69