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Senior Lecturer, Al Center acts as advisor on biochar project in Kenya

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ph.D. student Julia Berazneva interviews Kenyan villagers to inventory biomass supply and assess current use.

The increasing costs of fuel for transportation are hampering development of rural communities in developing countries, but an interdisciplinary team of Cornell scientists believes they may have found a sustainable solution: biochar.

The group of soil scientists, engineers and economists are on the cusp of harnessing the power of organic material to fuel an entire village in Kenya.

Launched last year after a $5 million donation to Cornell's David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future from energy expert Yossie Hollander, the Village Scale Pyrolysis project has progressed to building an experimental kiln -- the first continuous slow pyrolysis unit at a U.S. university.

The kiln will allow researchers -- under the leadership of Elizabeth Fisher, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Al Center, lecturer in chemical and biomolecular engineering -- to study the reaction dynamics and evaluate how the kiln can be scaled up to meet the needs of an entire village.

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