Bouygues installs Carbon Gold SuperChar 100 kiln for Ashgabat biochar production.
Carbon Gold has installed the pioneering SuperChar 100 Mk II biochar kiln at the Turkmenistan base of French civil engineering company Bouygues.
The French engineers and their families who live in Turkmenistan requested fresh fruit and vegetables that could not be locally sourced. Aware of biochar’s inclusion in Super Vegetable Gardens, which provide nutritious food to local communities in areas of severe desertification, the decision was taken by Bouygues to make and use biochar to grow produce for their employees.
Biochar is a highly porous, high carbon form of charcoal used to improve soil nutrition, growing conditions and soil structure. It is made from waste stream biomass that has been charred at a relatively low temperature with a restricted supply of oxygen – a process called pyrolysis. Biochar naturally helps improve soil structure, enhances soil fertility and boosts soil health whilst sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide for hundreds of years.
Biochar also helps to retain mineral nutrients that would otherwise be leached away by rain. It acts like a sponge, significantly improving the water-holding capacity of soil or compost, lessening the risk of drying out and reducing the frequency of irrigation.
So that Bouygues can have a sustainable source of biochar, Carbon Gold installed a SuperChar 100 Mk II kiln on the parks and garden site. This pioneering kiln can process a wide range of new feedstocks – an ideal waste management solution for the surplus wood shavings from Bouygues engineering works. Local Turkmen employees were expertly trained by Carbon Gold over a 12 day period in how to assemble and operate the kiln. In the 9 trial burns, over 2000 litres of biochar were produced. Due to the sophistication of the pyrolysis system and the dry climatic conditions, burn times were as short as 3 hours.
The biochar was used by Pro-Natura agronomists to develop a 30x15m Super Vegetable Garden. In the arid Turkmen soils, the water retentive biochar is fundamental to keeping the poorly irrigated land fertile. Bouygues employees and families now have a plentiful supply of tomatoes, courgettes and aubergines – crops that were previously unimaginable in local growing conditions.
Bouygues’ biochar will not only be used to grow produce, it will also play an environmentally important horticultural role in the work being undertaken in the city of Ashgabat, where the state has commissioned the construction of key public buildings. In the capital of Turkmenistan, a country that is over 80% desert, a significant number of trees are being planted and swathes of parks are being conjured from the sand.
Trees and shrubs are already being successfully planted with the biochar produced from Bouygues’ waste stream. By adding biochar to the planting pit at a rate of 5% by soil volume, or by top dressing established trees, tree health is dramatically improved and transplanted trees stand a higher chance of survival. This pioneering planting technique is now being implemented throughout the city, not only to ensure the survival of Ashgabat’s many trees, but also as an effective method of carbon sequestration. One tonne of carbon locked away in biochar represents three tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent being removed from the atmosphere – a claim that, in today’s environment, every company would be proud to make.