Biochar as a Building Material: Sequestering Carbon and Strengthening Concrete

M. Brennan Pecha, Lori Tunstall, Julia Hylton

Research output: NRELPresentation


It is possible to offset the carbon footprint of concrete by 60 kg (132 lbs) per cubic yard of ready-mix by deeply sequestering carbon with an engineered biochar additive. Our multidisciplinary team specializing in char production and cementitious materials has demonstrated that for every ton of cement, adding 100 kg of engineered biochar will not only lock in carbon, but also strengthen concrete in all key dimensions via enhancements to hydration and integration into the hardened matrix. As a non-chemical, inert additive the cement sequestration (CemSeq) char product can fully complement other powerful tools to reduce cement emissions and unlock the possibility for carbon negative concrete by 2050. The key findings of our initial research have shown that to achieve this the following are required: tailored milling of the char, using fast pyrolysis to produce the char, and modulating the cement flowability.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the tcbiomass Conference, 19-21 April 2022, Denver, Colorado

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2800-82445


  • biochar
  • carbon sequestration
  • concrete


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