Kochii Oil is produced using the age-old steam distillation process. A by-product of this process is the spent leaf biomass that traditionally has been stockpiled, dried and then used as a solid fuel for the furnace.
Over the years as production has increased significantly so too has the amount of biomass necessitating the need to find other uses for the biomass. One such use, that has greater environmental impact 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 (pyroligneous acid or wood vinegar) and gas (syngas). Each product has its own unique commercial and importantly, environmental benefits.
Pyroligneous acid or wood vinegar contains more than 200 constituents such as acetic acid, methanol, phenol, ester, acetals, ketone, formic acid and many others. Instead of the specific effectiveness of a certain element, in the case of wood vinegar, various elements work synergistically.
Wood vinegar is a natural, biological product that has been used extensively in Japan and throughout Asia for several decades for all sorts of uses and replacement of synthetic chemicals.
While there are many possible applications, one of the most promising markets for wood vinegar is related to agriculture and organic farming. Wood vinegar is an excellent pesticide and fertilizer that improves soil quality, helps elimination of pests and assists in the plant growth control by being able to accelerate the development of plants. It is also often used to increase the amounts of fruits produced in orchards.
Wood vinegar has also been used as an additive to feed as a growth promoter and or preventive antibiotic. It is particularly beneficial in poultry with studies in Japan showing that adding wood vinegar to feed gives chicken meat a clear pink colour and lowers its water content to 3%, increasing the overall quality of the meat. In milking cows, wood vinegar has been shown to help prevent mastitis
The uses of wood vinegar are many and there are still more uses to be explored. Kochii Oil are in the process of installing a pilot pyrolysis plant to capitalise on the opportunity to turn the spent biomass into biochar, clean green gas and importantly wood vinegar – the other oil.