Biochar Living Lab & Lighthouse

Frank Strie from Terra Preta Developments formed a working group with Geoff Watson of CPT Engineering to establish a Biochar Living Lab and Lighthouse in George Town. A Living Lab is an open-innovation ecosystem for co-designing, testing, and validating new technologies, products, and services. The Biochar Living Lab will focus on pyrogenic carbon, or biochar, including research and development aligned and adjacent to biochar production and use. The Biochar Living Lab is a Lighthouse project for businesses, community groups and local government to connect, experiment and build communities around initiatives and activities that promote regenerative systems in regional areas.

In May 2023, a forum was held in George Town introduced the Biochar Living Lab to key stakeholders. Feedback was positive and the group met with the General Manager of George Town Council to develop a collective vision and identify opportunities for collaboration.

Following the forum, a mobile kiln was installed on-site at CPT Engineering for biochar production and the group commenced practical experiments and demonstrations, using readily available green waste materials on and around the site.

A biochar kiln and water tank for quenching

The first test burn demonstrated the process and how the kiln design generates a “flame curtain”, which prevents emissions to air during the burn, making the process almost entirely smokeless. 

Key businesses in the region were invited to provide sample feedstocks for trials. Representatives from George Town council attended a second trial burn and provided sample feedstock from the local transfer station. Further trials are planned for 2024, focusing on research and development of solutions for reducing bushfire fuel loads in the area, including managing green waste stockpiles.

Image of Frank Strie

“There is no time to waste. George Town and the surrounding areas are ideal for developing a model for regenerative systems in regional areas.”

Frank Strie
Managing Director, Terra Preta Developments

The group met online with the CEO of Kaindorf Eco-region in Austria and the Austrian Trade Consulate to explore collaboration opportunities, understand governance structures, and discuss participation in EU programs like Horizon Europe.

A Discussion Paper has been developed and a skills-based steering group has been assembled to establish a governing body for the Living Lab. The steering group continues to meet fortnightly and has a plan for further action throughout 2024.

Learning into action

What have you learnt from Frank’s experience that you could put into action in your business? Here are three actions you could take right now.

  1. Call your local council and ask them if they’ve considered producing biochar from green waste.
  2. Join the BREP community and let us know about feedstocks or uses for biochar that you would like to investigate.
  3. Check back regularly to hear about upcoming biochar events in May 2024.

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The Business Resource Efficiency Program is delivered by BALT in partnership with the Tasmanian government.