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Standard Biocarbon secures $2m biochar funding

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Standard Biocarbon (SBC) has secured $2 million (€1.7 million) in financing from three Maine, US-based institutions to purchase equipment for producing biochar.

The company will produce high-quality biochar – the near-pure form of carbon made by processing biomass at high temperatures with little oxygen - at the former site of the Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket.

SBC will supply biochar for use in agriculture, environmental remediation, and emerging applications in composite building materials and asphalt. Studies have shown biochar is effective for remediation of PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ and heavy metals. It is also a recognised tool for atmospheric carbon removal.

Biochar does not degrade in nature, so carbon content is captured for thousands of years, whereas biomass, whether burned or left to rot, releases its carbon back into the atmosphere (unless emissions are captured through BECCS, or similar). Therefore, biochar has emerged as a highly efficient, durable, economical, and scalable atmospheric CO2 removal technology.

Coastal Enterprises (CEI) is serving as the lead lender with $800,000 (€686,000), with a further $800,000 (€686,000) participation from the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) and $400,000 (€343,000) from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI).

Once operational early next year, SBC will initially produce around 18,000 cubic yards of biochar annually, with plans for phased expansion in East Millinocket and other sites.

SBC will supply certified carbon removal credits to emerging private carbon markets which offer corporations and individuals the opportunity to ‘buy-back’ their emissions. Markets for biochar and carbon removal have ‘enormous potential’ for scale, said SBC, and Maine has an abundant supply of woody biomass – the key ingredient for biochar.

The loan funds will be used to purchase two advanced carbonisation machines that can continuously process biomass at precisely controlled high temperatures to create a consistent, carbon-rich biochar. The machines, made by Pyreg in Germany, will run 24/7 and process around 500 tons per month of locally sourced mill residuals.

“SBC is creating a new market for local and sustainable wood products to produce high-quality biochar, driving investment in Maine’s forestry industry, benefiting farmers, and delivering on Maine’s climate goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045,” said Daniel Wallace, senior vice-president of lending and investment at CEI.

“The technology that SBC brings to the East Millinocket site is revolutionary in both scope and size for the Northeast. We are pleased to partner with FAME and MTI to make a project like this happen in our home state.”