Over the last three years Kochii Eucalyptus Oil have increased production of our world-class eucalyptus oil by nearly 10-fold. This has led to a substantial increase in our spent leaf biomass, what some would call a waste product from the distillation process but we call an environmental opportunity.
This biomass is stockpiled, dried and used to fuel the furnace in the distillery providing a clean green source of fuel helping to reduce our overall carbon footprint. While this has its benefits it only uses a small percentage of our biomass and we have found other clean, green uses for it.
One such use is to convert the biomass into biochar through a process known as pyrolysis where the biomass is burnt in an oxygen free environment. The pyrolysis process produces a mixture of solids (biochar), liquid (wood vinegar) and gas (syngas). Each product has its own unique commercial and importantly, environmental benefit.
Biochar, which is around 75% to 80% pure carbon, is effective in carbon sequestration as it can lock up that carbon for hundreds if not thousands of years, when used to enrich soil. Aside from carbon sequestration biochar is being used in agriculture to enhance productivity, structure and water retention in soils as well as an additive in livestock feed where it improves rumen function, reducing methane emissions and improving the health and condition of the animals. Did you know that 1 gram of biochar can have a surface area of 150 – 500 m2 and can absorb and hold up to 20 times its own weight of water?
Wood vinegar like biochar is primarily used in agriculture to help improve seed germination and as an enhancer for fertilisers and pesticides. There are also medicinal opportunities for wood vinegar that are currently being researched.
The final product syngas is a green and renewable energy source that can potentially generate mega watts of base load electricity, with our aim, in the short term, to power the distillery and in the longer term to power the town of Kalannie and other regional end of grid communities.
With a global movement to sustainable and organic farming practices we are rediscovering the many benefits of biochar and wood vinegar as we move away from fossil based chemicals and look to alternatives.
Kochii Eucalyptus Oil have commissioned a pilot pyrolysis plant to utilise our spent biomass and produce biochar and wood vinegar to prove the markets for these products. In doing so creating new economic and employment opportunities for regional WA.
Who would have thought that all of this potential could come from these remarkable eucalypts that thrive in our harsh Australian climate