[NEWS RELEASE] — Federal approval sets stage for biochar commercialization in Alberta

December 17, 2015

EDMONTON – The Alberta Biochar Initiative (ABI) welcomes the federal government’s recent approval of biochar – a carbon-rich form of charcoal produced by heating agricultural and forestry waste materials in a low or no oxygen environment – for use in soil.

This important development, which is the result of two years of concerted work on the part of ABI partner AirTerra and other provincial biochar proponents to gain Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) approval, sets the stage for the next phase of ABI’s sustained effort to establish a successful biochar industry in Alberta and across Canada.

ABI partners are encouraged by this significant development.

“Regulatory approval is something ABI has pursued since 2012,” said Don Harfield, who has conducted biochar research and development at Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures for more than 10 years and serves as ABI’s technical lead. “It gives ABI partners the opportunity to pursue a wide range of potential commercial applications for biochar in Alberta and other markets.”

Biochar can be used to adjust soil pH and improve soil biology, allowing it to retain more moisture and nutrients. When applied to marginal land, biochar can increase sustainable crop yields. The material can also be chemically treated to clean water, reduce odour and adsorb toxic pollutants.

AirTerra President and CEO Rob Lavoie considers CFIA’s approval of biochar for use in soil a game-changing moment.

“Now that we’ve gained federal approval, I believe interest in biochar and its numerous commercial applications will take off with Canadian consumers and industries,” said Lavoie. “Gardeners, horticulturalists, farmers, forest products companies and industry will see biochar in a new light. Its economic and environmental potential is enormous.”

For more information on AirTerra, go to www.airterra.ca

Note to editors: To arrange an interview with an ABI biochar expert, contact Scott Lundy by phone at 780-246-3222 or by email at scott.lundy@albertainnovates.ca

The Alberta Biochar Initiative was established via a partnership between Lakeland College and Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures to develop and demonstrate technologies that will enable large-scale commercial deployment of biochar products and biochar applications for the benefit of Albertans.

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