Problem: Linear Waste Streams
In the present state of our global economy and its means of production, businessmen and manufacturers operate in a linear fashion. The current goal of a company or corporation is to direct all of its resources to create some product or service that will bring in a profit to the owners of the company.
Generally speaking, this simple model brings with it many harmful threats to the surrounding environment and create waste streams where the company loses money and resources without even realizing it. If these waste streams continue on unchecked, it will greatly affect the efficiency of the companies as well as bring harm to their immediate neighbour as well as their global environment.
Our team is tasked with looking towards one such waste stream that we could close the loop on and could additionally bring a positive impact to its immediate surroundings. Biorefineries are a type of production plant that creates fuel using the chemical energy found in plants and trees. During this process of extraction, however, a byproduct called biochar is formed.
Biochar is a simple material consisting solely of carbon that is produced as a process of pyrolysis, the decomposition of biomass in a low oxygen environment. Biorefineries around the world have either been disposing of this biochar or burning it in a boiler for electricity. These current uses neglect to acknowledge the powerful properties of biochar; biochar possesses unprecedented porosity, a slightly negative charge that attracts and retains life-supporting nutrients, and acts as a habitat for microorganisms. Our team has researched possible alternative applications of biochar and will present manners in which we can implement the following solutions:
Biochar acts as a powerful filtration agent for both emissions and effluent. Its high porosity content can be further enhanced by activating it with a chemical agent. When applied to a subject, it can absorb most contaminants and house them in its pores.
The high porosity and absorbability of biochar allows it to be an effective fertilizer after it has filtered the waste of some biological species. Once it has filtered through the waste, it can retain the nutrients, which can then be input into a fertilizer system, yielding even more accelerated growth.
Many products such as fuel cells are made using activated carbon and dangerous chemicals. Because biochar is created by biomass and does not release new CO2 into the atmosphere, it is a carbon neutral product. Thus, we could market biochar as an alternative that serves the same function, but with a much more environmentally-friendly approach.
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