Minneapolis Pioneers Urban Carbon Removal with Biochar Initiative

Jul 6, 2024

Minneapolis is launching a municipally owned carbon removal project using a biomass pyrolyzer to create biochar from tree clippings. Biochar improves soil fertility and water retention while sequestering carbon. The city plans to use biochar in public works and distribute it to pollution-heavy areas.

Minneapolis is on the verge of launching one of the first municipally owned carbon removal projects in the United States, centered around the innovative use of biochar. The city recently acquired a biomass pyrolyzer, a machine that converts tree clippings into biochar by heating them in a low-oxygen environment. This process locks carbon into a stable form that can last for centuries, helping to combat climate change.

Biochar offers numerous environmental benefits. It can improve soil fertility, increase crop yields, and enhance the soil’s ability to retain water. Additionally, biochar has the potential to filter contaminants from stormwater.  Minneapolis plans to integrate biochar into various public works projects and distribute it to community groups in pollution-heavy areas, known as “green zones.” The city is also exploring opportunities to sell biochar to other local governments interested in similar environmental initiatives.

Minneapolis’ biochar initiative draws inspiration from a successful project in Stockholm, Sweden. With funding assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Minneapolis was one of three U.S. cities awarded $400,000 in 2022 to develop biochar production facilities.

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