Ritsumeikan University opened the Japan Biochar Research Center on November 17, 2022 to serve as a hub for implementing demonstration projects with the aim of preventing global warming by using biochar to realize a decarbonized society.
In order to achieve the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015, countries have set goals to achieve virtually zero greenhouse gas emissions globally, i.e., to go carbon neutral. To realize a carbon neutral society, scientists have been focusing particularly on the use of biochar*1, the solid residue of burned biomass that is sowed on farmland and that can trap CO2. In Japan, the application of biochar to farmland was made eligible for J-Credits*2 in 2020, but until now, there were no research centers like those in the United Kingdom and other countries that specialize in biochar research.
Ritsumeikan began researching biochar in earnest with the establishment of the Ritsumeikan University Carbon Minus Project in 2019. In AY2020, Ritsumeikan was jointly selected by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for a commissioned research project called the Decarbonization and Environmental Resiliency Project (AY2020-AY2024), and in September 2022, we became the first Japanese university to purchase credits for the use of biochar on agricultural land under the J-Credit scheme.
The Center aims to be a leading research hub for biochar research in Japan, contributing to the prevention of global warming by utilizing prior research on biochar, promoting biochar demonstration projects in collaboration with industry, academia, and the government, and cultivating human resources in related fields, all while conducting research on the environmental conservation functions of biochar and developing life cycle assessment (LCA)*3 techniques. The Center will also strive for the widespread adoption of biochar.
Biochar is solid material produced by heating biomass at temperatures above 350 ºC with a controlled concentration of oxygen that does not burn. It has been proven to improve soil permeability and sequester carbon in soil.
A system under which the government certifies the amount of greenhouse gas emission reductions and absorption as "credits".
*3: Life cycle assessment (LCA)
A concept for evaluating the environmental impact of products in each process from resource extraction, processing into raw materials, and production to transportation, sales, consumption, recycling, and disposal. It is used to select production methods, alternative raw materials, and alternative products with less environmental impact.
Research Center Overview
Name: Japan Biochar Research Center, Ritsumeikan University
Date of establishment: November 17, 2022
Location: Osaka Ibaraki Campus, Ritsumeikan University, 2-150 Iwakura-cho, Ibaraki City, Osaka Prefecture
Number of researchers: 27