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ENVIRONMENTAL PYROLYSIS SOLUTIONS

About Sierra Preta
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Sierra Preta means black mountains, and refers both to our lovely region of the Sierra Nevada and to incredibly productive Brazilian Terra Preta soils. It symbolises our ambition to cover the whole of the cultivated Sierra Nevada with biochar in order to increase sustainability and resilience of farmland ecosystems.


At Sierra Preta, we turn problems into solutions. We process agricultural waste to produce high-quality biochar to increase the sustainability and resilience of local farmland ecosystems. We focus on developing decentralized and community-driven pyrolysis processes to create environmental and social value. We are rooted to our local environment, and aim to regenerate Andalusian soils, working towards climate change mitigation and adaptation by stopping the progression of the desert in Southern Spain.

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Starting with our valley, we want to contribute in the reconstruction of a diverse and resilient ecosystem which will be able to mitigate the effect of climate change by reducing further emissions and even begin to reverse it by removing carbon dioxide from the air. In the meantime, biochar fosters adaptation to climate change by restoring soil health, biodiversity, nutrient and water retention. Therefore serving as the perfect tool to reduce both the impact and the frequency of droughts in the region.

We believe that only together, we can raise to the challenge of regenerating our soils, farmlands and ecosystems. Hence, the empowerment of local farmers and communities through developing highly distributed, cost efficient and small to medium-scale biochar production is at the core of our strategy.

Environmental Benefits

  • Agriculture and soil improvement
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Waste Management
  • Water Filtration and Treatment
  • Livestock and Animal Husbandry
  • Renewable Energy
  • Horticulture and Landscaping
  • Ecological Restoration
  • Climate Change Mitigation
  • Aquaculture
  • Construction Materials
  • Concrete and Cement Additive
  • Thermal Properties
  • Lightweight Material
  • Water Absorption
  • Fire Resistance
  • Reduced Cracking
  • Water Utilization

A Single Solution to Multiple Problems

We are located in the Spanish Sierra Nevada, a chain of mountains located on the coastline of Granada. After years of observation, we have identified that biochar production and application on a large scale could be a solution to many of the environmental challenges the region is experiencing.


Global warming is making the difficult dry climate of this region worse than it has been. Current trends are leading us towards desertification through impact on soil quality, which becomes depleted of both its nutrients and water retention capacities. Biochar is the perfect addition for these kind of soils for them to recover their fertility.


Many trees are suffering, and the long-lasting intensive agriculture of the Andalusian coast resulted in worsening the dry conditions of the local mountains. Many reforestation projects are very active to try and counterbalance these effects. However, they are struggling with the low success rate of these new trees due to soil quality and dry conditions. Adding biochar to the substrate of newly planted trees and within tree nurseries themselves could make an incredible difference to the success rate of trees planted in the area.



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Riverbeds in the region have been highly mistreated by a mixture of poor human hydrological management practices and intense cycles of droughts/floods. Stabilizing riverbeds became a high priority for many of the local administration, and biochar can play a role in reintroducing trees and local deep-rooted bushes in riverbeds where soil quality is poor.

The region is home to intensive production of fruiting trees. At the end of the winter, immense quantities of wood residues (mostly olive) are left as waste. This wood is mostly being burnt on site, participating in local air-pollution furthering the impact of climate change. The same olive oil production has another by product in olive pips and pulp, a resource we could consider for biochar production as well. The high environmental stakes and potential political interest in the region makes it a very interesting case study for Biochar production.


Through offering distributed biochar generation to local farmers and approaching local decision-makers, we are thriving to deliver biochar production and the associated co-benefits where it is all needed. Covering the whole of the Sierra Nevada mountain range with biochar!
Biochar and its multiple application
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Biochar, a type of charcoal produced from organic materials through a process called pyrolysis, finds application in various domains due to its unique properties and benefits.

Here are some key domains where biochar is used:

Agriculture & Soil Improvement:

Biochar is often added to soils as a soil amendment to enhance fertility, water retention, and nutrient availability. It can improve soil structure, increase microbial activity, and sequester carbon in the soil, promoting sustainable and productive agricultural practices.

Carbon Sequestration:

Biochar can play a role in carbon sequestration by capturing carbon from biomass that might otherwise decompose and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Incorporating biochar into soils helps store carbon in a stable form for a longer period.

Waste Mangement

Biochar production can be a way to manage organic waste, such as agricultural residues, wood waste, and other biomass materials that might otherwise contribute to landfill waste or open burning. By converting these materials into biochar, waste is repurposed into a valuable resource.

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carbon atom
Renewable Energy

The pyrolysis process used to produce biochar can also yield bioenergy in the form of bio-oil and syngas. This can contribute to the renewable energy sector.

Research & Innovation:

Ongoing research explores new applications for biochar, including its use in composite materials, as a catalyst support, and in specialized environmental remediation projects.

Overall, biochar's versatility and beneficial properties make it a promising tool for addressing environmental and agricultural challenges in various domains.

Animal Husbandry

Adding biochar to livestock bedding or manure management systems can help reduce odors and capture nutrients, thereby improving waste management on farms.

Horticulture and Landscaping

Biochar can be used in potting mixes and soil blends for container gardening, landscaping, and urban agriculture to enhance plant growth and water retention.

Climate Change Mitigation

As biochar sequesters carbon in soils and reduces emissions from organic waste, it can play a role in mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Water Filtration and Treatement

Biochar has been used in water treatment systems to remove contaminants, such as heavy metals and organic pollutants, from water sources. Its porous structure and high surface area make it effective for adsorption and filtration.

Ecological Restoration

Biochar can aid in ecological restoration efforts by improving soil quality in degraded or disturbed landscapes, promoting vegetation establishment.

Aquaculture

In aquaculture systems, biochar can be used to improve water quality by adsorbing excess nutrients and pollutants, creating a healthier environment for aquatic organisms.

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Bichar and Cement
Construction Materials

Biochar has been explored as a potential additive in construction materials due to its unique properties, such as its porous structure, carbon sequestration potential, and potential to enhance certain properties of construction materials. While still an emerging field, there are several ways biochar can be used in construction:

Concrete and Cement Additive

Biochar can be added to concrete mixes to improve their properties. The porous structure of biochar can help increase the porosity and reduce the density of concrete, making it lighter and potentially improving its thermal insulation properties. Additionally, the carbon content of biochar can contribute to carbon sequestration in concrete, helping to offset its environmental impact.

Thermal Properties:

Biochar's insulating properties can contribute to better thermal regulation in construction materials. Incorporating biochar into materials like plaster, insulation panels, or cementitious products can help regulate temperature and reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling.

Fire Resistance

Some studies suggest that adding biochar to construction materials could enhance their fire resistance properties due to its heat-absorbing properties and ability to delay ignition.

Lightweight and Structural Materials:

Biochar's lightweight nature can be advantageous in producing lightweight construction materials, reducing the overall weight of structures. It can be used in the production of bricks, blocks, and other building components.

Water Absorption and Moisture Regulation:

Biochar's porous structure allows it to absorb and release moisture effectively. This property can be useful in materials designed for moisture regulation, such as plaster and coatings that help prevent mold and moisture damage.

Environmental Benefits:

By incorporating biochar into construction materials, the carbon content of biochar can be effectively locked into the material, contributing to carbon sequestration. This can offset the carbon footprint associated with the production of conventional construction materials.

Waste Utilization

Biochar production provides a potential avenue for utilizing organic waste materials that might otherwise be discarded. Incorporating these waste-derived biochars into construction materials can promote a circular economy and reduce waste.

Reduced Cracking

Biochar's ability to absorb and release moisture slowly could potentially help reduce cracking and shrinkage in certain construction materials.

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Sierra Preta is in Collaboration with

Cgo
C-GO - Team Biochar
The New Global Community for Biochar
CGo® is a modular system that enables small- and mid-scale distributed Biochar Producers to be recognised and rewarded for making positive contributions to global climate mitigation.

Click here to explore their forum - Knowledge center for Biochar Producers

OpenEcoLabLasalpujarras
OpenEcoLab
Las Alpujarras
Empower people around the topic technology.

The Open Ecologic Laboratory is a non-commercial project. Creating a local network of technology interested people to make it available for others. To learn, repair, recycle and use technology for our needs.

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