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Program Areas in the Center for Carbon Capture and Conversion

Center for Carbon Capture and Conversion



Coal-Derived Soil Amendments


As part of the Carbon Engineering Initiative (CEI), the CCCC has developed coal-derived soil amendments to provide a new, non-thermal and a potentially high-volume use for Wyoming coal. A soil amendment is any material added to the soil to improve its physical or chemical properties.

The coal char soil amendments promote increased crop yields, improve soil fertility and retain moisture in a sustainable way.

The research team is investigating the use of coal char as a soil amendment that has been produced from Powder River Basin coal and comparing its effects to conventional Wyoming agricultural practices – such as the use of more expensive bio char – to determine its viability as an agricultural product.




greenhouse study

The initial phase of the project began in a greenhouse study. The greenhouse experiment examined plant growth and soil properties with both biochar and coal char in different soil types.

coal char field

The field study involved pouring coal char on sugar beet crops at the UW Research and Extension Center in Powell, and on field corn and alfalfa crops at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Lingle. 


The research team collected soil data on the coal char plots and compared the results to data collected on plots treated with biochar to determine changes in soil health.


The research team monitored crop growth on the treated plots and collected data once the crops were harvested in the fall of 2021. More studies are planned in the upcoming growing season. 

What is Bio Char?

Bio Char is made from a wide variety of biomass feedstocks, including wood and plant matter, food and agricultural waste products, and manure. The plant waste is fired to ash in an oxygen starved environment resulting in a pure carbon by-product. The use of bio char is an industry standard practice in the agricultural sector to enhance crop yields.

What is Coal Char?

Pyrolyzed coal or coal char is a by product of the fast pyrolysis process that consists of rapidly subjecting coal to extremely high temperatures for very short periods of time, in an inert or hydrogen rich environment. While liquids are produced, control of the process also produces ultra-high purity coal chars that are highly porous and completely safe for the environment.


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