Lynchburg bioproduct company plans state's first 'biochar' manufacturing plant in Waverly

·2 min read

The governor's office said Monday that a bioproducts company plans to build Virginia's first producer of biochar, a porous, coal-like substance primarily used in agriculture for animal feed, odor elimination and soil improvement, in Waverly.

Lynchburg-based Restoration Bioproducts LLC plans to invest $5.8 million over the next three years to build the facility in the west end of Waverly, as part of a joint venture with pellet manufacturer Wood Fuel Developers. Restoration senior managing partner Jeff Waldon said the 1.25-acre site will be on land along state Route 40, also known as West Main Street, that is owned by Wood Fuel Developers.

When completed, the gree-energy plant is expected to "create five high-paying jobs and purchase 34,560 tons of Virginia-grown wood products," a statement from Gov. Glenn Youngkin's office said.

Restoration will use technology known as "pyrolysis" to convert wood-waste from Wood Fuel Developers into biochar. In pyrolysis, which is the first step toward total combustion, the wood or other organic substance is exposed to high temperatures in an oxygen-free environment. It never catches fire, but its consistency breaks down into other forms such as biochar.

Synthesis gas, which is a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and a 500-kilowatt electric generator will be used to run the pyrolysis chamber.

In the statement from his office, Gov. Glenn Youngkin called the announcement "further evidence that Virginia is the location of choice for companies looking to transform their industries through innovation.”

“Pyrolysis and biochar application has been identified as an important technological approach to assisting agricultural producers improve soil health, and sequester carbon in soils to address climate change.” Waldon, of Restoration Bioproducts, said.

Part of the new facility will be financed through a $50,000 grant from the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund. Both Sussex County and Waverly will match that grant with local funds,

This article originally appeared on The Progress-Index: Virginia bioproduct company plans its first biochar plant in Sussex