College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Better biodiesel: ISU graduate students receive grant to continue biochar research

Having a job while in college can be stressful, but creating your own company is a whole other briquette in the fire.For for mechanical engineering grad students Bernardo Del Campo, Juan Proano and Matthew Kieffer, that is their reality.

Their company, Artichar, works to sell the bio-renewable product called Biochar, a charcoal-like substance used as a carbon sequestering resource.

Biochar starts as sawdust from rice husks or pinewood. Then, through the process of biomass pyrolysis, the sawdust is turned into the product of Biochar. It is a charcoal-like substance with a porous surface that acts as a sponge to help clean up farm chemicals from streams and rivers.

The company recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for $150,000. Of that money, $60,000 is to go to the university to continue working on Biochar research. The company will use the remaining money for upcoming projects, one of which uses filtering with salt water.

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