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Sustainable Use of Resources with Biocoal

Joint Project of Freie Universität, Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, and Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin

№ 176/2017 from Jun 29, 2017

Scientists from the Department of Earth Sciences at Freie Universität are developing low-emission and environmentally friendly waste management at the Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde zoo by producing and using biocoal. As part of the CarboTIP project, they are testing whether, in addition to wood, the extensive foliage biomass at the Tierpark Berlin can be carbonized and thus converted to biocoal and energy. The aim of the researchers is to improve the CO2 balance of waste management in the zoo. They also hope to be able to estimate the possible applications of biocoal technology in waste disposal in Berlin. The "CO2-Sequestrierungspotential Tierpark" project (CO2-sequestation potential in the Tierpark zoo; project duration: 12/2016 to 01/2020) is being funded by within the Berlin Program for Sustainable Development (BENE: Berliner Programm für Nachhaltige Entwicklung) with funds from the European Fonds for Regional Development (EFRE) and the State of Berlin (funding code: 1123-B5-O). It is being implemented in collaboration with the Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde and the Botanic Garden and Botanic Museum Berlin.

"The utilization of organic and other waste materials spares fossil resources and makes a substantial contribution to climate and environmental protections," said Prof. Dr. Dr. Konstantin Terytze from Freie Universität, who heads the project. He says that biocoal could become an important tool within a sustainability strategy. Over the long term, biocoal stores CO2 from the atmosphere, reduces greenhouse gases during composting, and minimizes the leaching of nutrients into the groundwater. In addition, the production of biocoal provides energy that can replace fossil fuels.

With an area of 160 hectares, the Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde is one of the largest landscaped animal parks in Europe, and it is therefore an excellent location for research on and application of biocoal technology, explained the coordinator of the project, Dr. Robert Wagner. He said, "Especially the amount of foliage, 16,000 cubic meters annually, is a huge untapped potential for the production of biocoal and the associated storage of carbon." Building on the findings and experiences of the TerraBoGa research project in the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin from 2010 to 2015, the scientists will test this technology in the Tierpark zoo and include new and expanded aspects.

"In this project, the researchers will investigate the suitability of foliage for the production of biocoal to improve the efficiency of carbon and energy (use of waste heat for heating the display rooms and animal housing)," said Prof. Dr. Dr. Konstantin Terytze. For this purpose, the collected leaves are treated and pelletized. The biocoal is produced from the foliage pellets in the carbonization facility at the Botanical Garden Berlin at Freie Universität. The plans also include controlled composting of the manure and plant wastes with biocoal and the production of substrates tailored to the different planting concepts of the zoo park. The various environmental effects, such as greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient leaching, and effects on plant growth will all be tested on site.

Once the project has been completed, the findings will be compiled into an overall ecological survey, and economic considerations will be analyzed in the context of cost-benefit analysis. A manual will be prepared to facilitate the transferability of the research results to other locations and by other actors.

Further Information

Dr. Robert Wagner, Department of Earth Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-70435, Email: r.wagner@fu-berlin.de