Hopp til hovedinnholdet

Division of Environment and Natural Resources


Photo: Erling Fløistad/NIBIO
Active Last updated: 11.01.2024
End: dec 2026
Start: jul 2023

Cascading recycling of organic N-sources with next-generation biochar fertilizer for Norwegian agriculture


Cornell University:
Cornell University is a renowned institution with a focus on research and education across a wide range of disciplines. The university is known for its leading research in agriculture, natural sciences, and environmental studies and has a strong commitment to promoting sustainable practices and solutions globally.

Dr. Johannes Lehmann is Professor of Soil Fertility Management at Cornell University, and a world-renowned expert on biochar. He has led pioneering research on biochar's potential to adsorb ammonia and methane. The collaboration with Lehmann's group ensures that AgriCascade's research activities build upon decades of biochar research and find cutting-edge solutions.

SINTEF Energy AS is a part of the SINTEF Group, one of Europe's largest independent research organizations. SINTEF Energy focuses on research in energy production, energy conversion, and energy efficiency, with a particular focus on sustainable solutions.

Dr. Liang Wang, Senior Scientist at SINTEF, is a specialist in biomass pyrolysis processes, industrial charcoal, and biochar production and characterization.

Dr. Roger Khalil is an expert on monitoring gases from industrial processes and farm facilities.

NTNU is a leading university in Norway, renowned for its research and education in technology, natural sciences, and related fields. The university plays a key role in driving innovation and research across various disciplines.

Prof. Francesco Cherubini is the director of the Industrial Ecology Programme (Indecol) at NTNU and is specialized in assessing interactions between biomass systems, land management, and the environment.

Dr. Otavio Cavalett is a senior researcher at Indecol with deep expertise in environmental impact analysis of land-derived bio-based products.

OBIO AS is an organization specializing in the application of biochar and similar products in agriculture. Their work includes research, development, production and implementation of biochar technology to promote sustainable agriculture and resource management.

Einar Stuve MBA is the CEO of OBIO AS, developing the company over 12 years from a startup to a profitable company with 56 MNOK turnovers. OBIO has been working with pyrolysis since 2014.

Norsk Biokullnettverk:
Norwegian Biochar Network serves as a collaborative platform, uniting diverse stakeholders, experts, and organizations involved in the study, research, and applications of biochar and related products in Norway. Their work contributes to knowledge exchange and the promotion of biochar technology across different sectors.

Mia Ulvin is a project manager in the Norwegian Biochar Network with expertise in networking and communication.

Start - end date 01.07.2023 - 31.12.2026
Project manager Daniel Rasse
Division Division of Environment and Natural Resources
Department Biogeochemistry and Soil Quality

Ammonia emissions from animal manure and composting represent a significant environmental challenge in agriculture. It contributes to respiratory diseases, soil acidification, disruptions in ecosystems, and substantial losses of valuable organic nitrogen for fertilization. While NH3 itself is not a greenhouse gas, it contributes to indirect emissions of N2O. Sorption of ammonia onto biochar and use of the resulting product as a fertilizer has been proposed as a measure to improve the nitrogen cycle in agriculture, but functional value chains are lacking.

Now, the conditions are present for developing a value chain for such a fertilizer product. The Norwegian biochar industry is expanding, supported in part by the CARBO-FERTIL project, which has contributed to establishing the knowledge base for biochar-based fertilizers in Norway. The main objective of AgriCascade is to create a next-generation fertilizer made from capturing polluting agricultural NH3 emissions onto novel high-sorbent biochar produced from wood and forest residues. The project builds on recent advances made in biochar-activation technology for sorbing NH3, as well as on the development of industrial production capacity for biochar in Norway. Currently, Norway can viably produce biochar on an industrial scale using various feedstocks, including wood chips and forest waste, presenting a favorable life-cycle assessment perspective. AgriCascade will further build upon this work by:

  1. Developing and characterizing novel biochar sorbents. Our industrial partners will produce a variety of biochars subject to comprehensive characterization.
  2. Conducting laboratory trials and scaling-up to a pilot scale. NIBIO will test a selection of biochars for ammonia adsorption in laboratory conditions, and with the help of international partners conduct an advanced characterization of the resulting N-loaded biochars. Based on the laboratory scale results, biochars produced at a larger scale will be tested in pilot experiments (attached to manure tanks, chicken coops or composters) to assess their effectiveness in adsorbing gaseous NH3. We will also evaluate the capacity of these filters to remove CH4 or to be coupled to biochar-based bio-filters designed for CH4 removal.  
  3. Assessing the fertilizer value of NH3-enriched biochars.  A well-balanced fertilizer product will be created by pelletizing the N-loaded biochar filter along with P and K-rich materials (e.g. ash, clay). The fertilizer value and N-use efficiency of the resulting product will be investigated in a greenhouse pot experiment.
  4. Analyzing and document reduced pollution, climate benefits, and economic impacts in the value chain through life cycle analysis. The sustainability aspects of implementing activated biochar filters in Norwegian manure and compost storage will be examined, considering the entire value chain and circular economy, including aspects such as the availability of forest residues to pollutant removal efficiency and the impact of N-enriched biochar on agricultural soils. The contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be quantified.
  5. Creating opportunities to use new filter and fertilizer technology in a wide range of agricultural applications through dialogue. The project's findings will be shared with farmers through newsletters, farm visits, and workshops. Knowledge will be openly available via academic publications and through the Norwegian Biochar Network, enabling other companies and researchers to understand the processes involved in developing similar or complementary solutions.

The project will help Norwegian companies to develop within the field of organic fertilizer production, nutrient recycling and greenhouse gas mitigation. It will help the growing Norwegian biochar industry (of around 30 companies) to create new biochar products with a range of environmental and agronomic benefits, based on local resources. Farmers will benefit from the project by gaining access to new bio-based fertilizer products with high recycled N content that help them reach their soil carbon sequestration targets while simultaneously fertilizing the soil. This technology is also less affected by geopolitical disruptions than mineral fertilizers. The project will provide the agricultural sector with concrete, measurable solutions to decrease ammonia emissions, contributing to meeting ammonia reduction targets outlined in the Gothenburg Protocol and thus benefiting the public sector.

Reduction of methane emissions and increased soil carbon sequestration will be additional benefits. The project will support the transition to a sustainable circular economy, and contributes to six of the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG 2 - Zero Hunger: The project contributes to increased food security.

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being: The project contributes to reduced air pollution.

SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production: The project contributes to increased N recycling and utilization of forest residues in a circular economy perspective.

SDG 13 Climate Action: The project contributes to mitigating emissions of GHGs and achieving Negative Emissions.

SDG 14 - Life below water: The project contributes to reducing nutrient runoff from land-based activities.

SDG 15 - Life on Land: The project contributes to increasing soil carbon storage.