EUR 80,000 in funds for biochar research at University of Hamburg

"Klaus Tschira Booster Fund" for postdoctoral researchers - scientist hopes to find new production means
30 August 2023
Uni Hamburg

The "Klaus Tschira Booster Fund" has announced EUR 80,000 in funds for a project by Dr Maria-Elena Vorrath, a geoscientist in the Department of Earth System Sciences at the University of Hamburg. Her research focuses on a new method of producing biochar, which can store carbon, provide heat and electricity and reduce greenhouse gases.

Biochar for a circular economy

Although biochar can bind nutrients and improve the quality of soil, it can have adverse effects as up to 95 per cent of climate-damaging carbon released when it decomposes is permanently bound therein. The "Rockchar" project, led by Vorrath, aims to produce biochar from biological waste and industrial by-products such as steel slag or concrete waste. "On the one hand, carbon dioxide stored by biochar remains in it, but the rock components dissolve in the water in the soil. That converts CO2 from the soil and binds it for thousands of years," she pointed out. Biochar produces waste heat and gas to generate electricity. That could help set up a circular economy

Funding for postdoctoral researchers 

"If I can prove its decisive effects, that may have an immediate, positive impact on agriculture and the climate," said Vorrath. The partners to the project include the Technical University of Hamburg, the University of Wageningen (Netherlands) and the Hamburg-based companies Novocarbo, Thyssenkrupp, Sibelco and Silicate. The grant is presented by the "Klaus Tschira Foundation" and the "German Scholars Organisation" for postdoctoral researchers. Emphasis is on the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. Sixteen postdoctoral researchers have received grants hitherto.