[Changes from version 8.1E to version 8.2E from 4/19 2019]

We added some precisions in regard to the certification of biochar based products

10.1 Exclusive use of EBC certified biochar

The risks associated with the use of non-certified biochar in agriculture, livestock farming and in products ultimately destined for agricultural use, such as compost or biogas slurry, are considered to be very high, since in this case pollutants such as PAHs, dioxins and heavy metals may enter the human food chain and accumulate permanently in soils and the environment.

Therefore, products made with biochar can only become EBC certified if the processing company uses exclusively EBC certified biochar for their biochar-based products. The certified company may not use, store or trade any biochar for agronomic purposes that is not EBC certified. Non-EBC certified biochar may be used by means of a written EBC exemption permit for industrial purposes such as in building materials and plastics or as charcoal for barbecue, provided that the spatial separation of certified biochar and the user protection are ensured. Without EBC exemption, no non-EBC certified biochar may be used, stored and traded by the certified company.

11.1 EBC-Logo

Only EBC-certified companies are entitled to use the EBC logo for the labeling of their products.

12. Control and Certification

The pure trade of ready packed and EBC certified biochar is subject to no further control and certification if correctly labeled by the certified manufacturer according to EBC regulations. Thus, if a non-certified company or individual markets EBC-certified biochar or biochar-based products, both the certified producer and the biochar batch must be clearly traceable. The certified manufacturer must therefore be named on the label or delivery note. If the original manufacturer is not mentioned on the packaging or on the delivery note, the company placing the goods on the market must inevitably be EBC-certified, otherwise he may not label the goods as EBC-certified.


[Changes from version 8.0E to version 8.1 from 4/4 2019]

With the new version, only small changes or precision of version 8 have come into force.

chapter 11.3:

[added:]

Furthermore, an internet link or QR code must be printed on the label and the shipping note, via which the analytical values of the biochar contained in the product can be consulted. It does not necessarily have to be the copy of the official EBC analysis of the biochar producer. The inspector checks the conformity of the biochar analysis on the website and the supplier's EBC Eurofins analysis.


Chapter 12:

[added:]

The pure trade of ready-packed and labeled biochar is not subject to any control and certification requirements. The trade in unpackaged, loose goods (for example containers) or underpackaging and repackaging as well as relabelling are subject to the control and certification obligation of processing companies.


[Changes from version 6.3E to version 8 from 1/1 2019]

At the start of 2019, several essential modifications of the EBC standard occure. They concern in particular the chapters 10 und 11. In the new chapter 10, the guidelines for the certification of companies that process EBC-certified biochars are set. In the equally new chapter 11, the labeling requirements, the use of EBC certification logos are regulated. All further modifications are documented in the following passages. Additions are highlighted in red, comments are set in italics:

chapter 3:

3.5  Biochar may only be produced from forestry wood if appropriate standards, laws or certificates (e.g. PEFC or FSC) can proof sustainable forest management.

3.6  Only biomass that was grown in Europe is allowed as feedstocks for the production of biochar.

3.6  Feedstocks used for the production of biochar must not be transported over distances greater than 80 km. An exception is made for pyrolysis additives or special biomasses for use in production tests. [Since the current network of pyrolysis facilities is not yet extensive an exemption to this transport distance requirement can be granted as long as such exemption is only a temporary measure.]

Comment: In principle, we still believe that biomass transport over long distances should be avoided and that biochar should be produced as decentrally as possible. Despite the steady development of biochar production in Europe, however, limiting the transport distance is currently not practicable. For this reason, the guideline point 3.6 is replaced by the requirement that the biomass for the production of biochar be of European origin. This is to prevent biomass production from being relocated to developing countries or countries with low regulatory environmental targets (such as the US), as can be seen in the highly problematic wood pellet trading.

Chapter 5:

[added:]

5.10 The monthly sample bags (3 kg) have to be stored for at least three years at a protected and dry location.

Chapter 6:

It is not the task and purpose of the EBC certificate to provide a complete physico-chemical characterization of biochar. The costs of analyses for such a characterization would go beyond economically reasonable limits. Rather, it is crucial for the EBC certificate to guarantee compliance with all environmentally relevant limit values and to declare all product characteristics relevant to agricultural practice.

The permissible test methods as well as the analytical methods for the individual parameters are detailed in Chapter 13.

Comment: The permissible test methods are only mentioned and described in Chapter 13 and therefore no longer mentioned in Chapter 6.

Chapter 7:

7.1 Biomass pyrolysis must be operated in an energy efficient manner in an energy-autonomous process.

The external energy used for operating the reactor (electricity for power drive systems, ventilation and automatic control systems, fuel for preheating, etc.) must not exceed 8% (basic grade) or 4% (premium grade) of the calorific value of the biomass pyrolysed in the same period. With the exception of the preheating of the pyrolysis reactor, the use of fossil fuels for heating the pyrolysis reactor is prohibited. The use of waste heat from other industrial processes, such as bio-digesters or cement production or the use of solar thermal energy is permitted. If the pyrolysis reactor is electrically heated, the use of renewable energy sources or the use of surplus electricity must be proven.

7.2 The pyrolysis gases produced during pyrolysis must be recovered or burned. They are not allowed to escape into the atmosphere.

[...] However, if pyrolysis gases are trapped and are cleanly burned or used as bio-oil for the chemical industry, the environmental impact is neutral and even improved compared to biomass burning or natural decomposing. The EBC certificate guarantees that only biochar production technology is used that does not release unburned pyrolysis gases to the atmosphere.

7.4 The heat produced by the pyrolysis process must be used

35 to 60 % of the energy contained in the biomass feedstock is eventually contained in the pyrolysis gas. Part of the energy released during the combustion of these gases is usually used to heat the biomass for pyrolysis. However, high amounts of waste heat remain. At least 70% of this waste heat must be used, e.g. for drying biomass, for distant heating, for generating electricity or for similar sustainable purposes. Bio-oil and pyrolysis gases can also be stored for later material and/or energetic uses.

Comment: Pyrolysis technology has evolved significantly in recent years. The research and development of pyrolysis is increasingly oriented towards solutions that convert almost all of the biomass-carbon into a usable and / or sequesterable form. However, if the pyrolysis gases are processed into chemical raw materials and fuels, they are no longer available for heating the pyrolysis reactors. In that case, the heat for the pyrolysis reactors can be provided by renewable electricity (so-called E-pyrolysis). In order to take these new developments into account, the limitation on the use of external energy is removed. The ban on using fossil fuels to heat reactors remains. Added to this is the requirement that, when the reactor is electrically heated, the electricity must come from renewable sources (solar, wind).

chapter 8:

[added:]

8.2 All workers must be informed in writing about possible risks and dangers of and around the production facility and sign the document. In particular, this concerns the self-ignitability of char dust, respiratory protection, contact with bio-oil and tars and possible gas leakage.

chapter 10:

10. Certification of biochar-based products and biochar processing companies

Comment: So far, the EBC has only certified the production of biochar. This, however, meant that companies that purchased certified biochar as raw material for new products could not qualify for EBC certification, as no control was set for the processing procedures. With the rapidly growing market for biochar based products, there was an urgent need to fill this gap. From now on, products containing EBC certified biochar can become EBC certified. It should be noted, in particular, that a manufacturer of biochar-based products can only become EBC-certified if all processed biochar is EBC-certified. The chapter regulates the incoming goods inspection, storage and processing (keeping of processing journals).

For the exact wording of the new chapter 10, please consult the guidelines.

chapter 11

11. Labeling requirements, EBC logos, and sales

Comment: Also newly regulated is the labeling of EBC biochar and biochar based products. This serves better information of the customers as well as any control authorities. Moreover, it sets the standard for transparent product information. The aim of this standardization is not at least to prevent non-certified companies from making unclear product information at the expense of EBC producers.

An important addition is that  an internet link or QR code must be printed on the label and the shipping label, via which the EBC-certified analysis of the corresponding batch can be viewed and downloaded.  

chapter 12

12. Control and certification

[...] If a biochar producer desires to become EBC certified, their entire biochar production site must be controlled and certified, regardless of whether only one batch, several or all batches qualify for one of the EBC certificates. Biochar from non-EBC certified batches may not be sold for agriculture or livestock uses.

[...]

For small biochar-processing companies, a small-scale producer regulation may also apply. If less than 10 tons of biochar are processed into biochar-based products per year, these establishments are exempt from the annual on-site inspection. Compliance with the production and quality guidelines is evaluated by the government accredited inspection body using self-declaration and processing protocols.


[changes from version 6.2E to version 6.3E from 14th August 2017]

added to chapter 4 page 8

Sending the biochar sample to the accredited laboratory:

4.1 The biochar samples have to be sent within the first three days after the start of a batch to the accredited laboratory. As long as it can be guarantied that the same biomass feedstock and the same process parameters are used, the biochar sample can be sent up to three weeks before the start of a batch. 4.2 When sending the biochar sample to the EBC accredited laboratory, the batch number of the sample has to be transmitted to the lab. 4.3 The accredited laboratory has to be informed that the sent sample should be considered as a sample to obtain the EBC certification. 4.4 The accredited lab will then send a copy of the results of the analyses to the accredited controlling organism as well as to the EBC. 4.5 The EBC has the right to use the analytical results anonymised for statistical analyses.

added to chapter 5 page 9-10:

 

5.9          Alternatively, an automated incremental cross-stream sample of 100 g could be taken every 30 min for at least 24 hours. Such an automated incremental cross-stream sample could replace the above-described sampling method.

5.10 Random Sampling

At each control visit, the controller takes a random sample of the biomass feedstock and the resulting biochar, seals both sample bags and let the producer send them to the EBC.

5.11 Retention Sample

In addition to the EBC-analysis sample and random sample, the producers are obliged to take daily an incremental cross-stream sample of at minimum 100g. The time of the daily sample has to be marked in the production protocol. The daily cross-stream samples have to be collected in a monthly sample bag or case. After one month the sample bag has to be sealed and dated. The next 30 cross-stream samples will be collected in a new monthly bag or case. The incremental cross-stream sample can be taken manually or implemented as e.g. presented in Gy (2004). The incremental cross-stream sampling guaranties a most representative sampling of the product.


added to chapter 10 page 21:

Manufactures producing more than 50 t biochar per year are not considered as artisan producers which is independent of the fact if they want to certify only a portion < 50 t of their total production. If e.g. a manufacturer produces 200 t of biochar per year and want to certify only one batch of e.g. 40 t, a yearly on-site inspection by the accredited controlling body becomes obligatory. 


[changes from version 6.1 to version 6.2 from 4th February 2016]

The annual biochar production limit for small scale producers was increased from 20 t to 50 t. In order to be reasonably proportional to the risk assessment and to the environmental protection goals, producers with an annual production capacity below 50 t of biochar are exempt from on-site inspection of production. The compliance with production requirements is controlled by the accredited quality assurance agency via self-declaration and a detailed description of the complete production process. The requirements for biochar batch analyses, thresholds, feedstock sustainability and handling of biochar maintain the same as for industrial producers.

PAH analytical method DIN CEN/TS 16181 (soxhlet-extraction with toluol, to be analysed with GC-MS or HPLC) was added to 6.8

The threshold for Arsen at  As < 13 g t-1 TM was introduced.

 

[changes from version 6 to version 6.1 from 19th June 2015]

The main modifications concern the general requirements for biochar production records listed in chapter 4 which were adapted for the inclusion of small scale production. The terminology of "biochar production batch" was changed to "biochar production series" because in batch pyrolysis systems several batches may constitute one productions series. This is especially relevant for small scale production systems that are mostly batch systems. 

[Modification in chapter 4:]

Each biochar series must be clearly labelled and be given a unique identification number for reconstructing the circumstances of production and guaranteeing the quality of the biomasses used. For each biochar series, separate production records are to be kept. Each series must be tested to ensure compliance with the required threshold values.

A uniform biochar series is deemed to exist when the following criteria are met:

  1. The pyrolysis temperature in °C do not fluctuate more than 20%. Interruption of the production is allowed as far as the production parameters keep the same after the resumption of production. For small-scale production with a yearly production below 20 t of biochar the continuous recording of production temperatures are not requested.  
  2. The composition of the pyrolysed biomasses does not fluctuate more than 15% based on the type of feedstock listed in the feedstock positive list.

 

[changes from version 5 to version 6 from 21st March 2015]

The main modification concerns the inclusion of small scale producers with less than 20 tons annual biochar production. In order to be reasonably proportional to the risk assessment and to the environmental protection goals, producers with an annual production capacity below 20 t of biochar are exempt from on-site inspection of production. The compliance with production requirements is controlled by the accredited quality assurance agency via self-declaration and a detailed description of the complete production process. The requirements for biochar batch analyses, thresholds, feedstock sustainability and handling of biochar maintain the same as for industrial producers.  


[Modification in chapter 5.3:]

5.1   15 subsamples of 1.5 liter each have than to be arbitrarily gathered from different spots of the homogenized biochar lot (ISO (2006) or Bunge & Bunge (1999)). For small scale production of less than 200 liters per day the subsample size may be reduced to 0.5 liters.

 

[Modification in chapter 6.1:]

6.1 The biochar's carbon content must be higher than 50% of the dry mass (DM). Pyrolysed organic matter with a carbon content lower than 50% are classified as Bio-Carbon-Minerals” (BCM). Pyrogenic Carbonaceous Material (PCM).

 

[Modification in chapter 6.3:]

6.3 The molar O/Corg ratio must be less than 0.4

In addition to the H/Corg ratio, the O/Corg ratio is also relevant for characterising biochar and differentiating it from other carbonisation products (Schimmelpfennig and Glaser, 2012). Compared to the H/Corg ratio, direct measuring of the O content is relatively expensive and not standardized. Therefore the calculation of the O content from C, H, B, S and ash content is accepted.

Permitted test methods: DIN 51733, ISO 17247

(Specify for each batch)

 

[Addition in chapter 6.4:]

(Specify for each batch for producers of more than 200 t biochar or PCM per year)

 

[Addition in chapter 6.9:]

(Specify for each production unit for producers of more than 200 t biochar or PCM per year)

 

[Addition in chapter 7.2:]

Most of the global charcoal and biochar production is still done using obsolete technology (Brown et al., 2015) where most of the original feedstock carbon is released as toxic emissions to the atmosphere. Even though the quality of biochar produced in such kilns may meet EBC requirements, the environmental impact of such production techniques is highly negative.

If pyrolysis gases are trapped and used as fuel and bio-oil or are cleanly burned the environmental impact is neutral or even improved compared to biomass burning or natural decomposing. Under the EBC biochar production technology that releases unburned pyrolysis gases are not permitted.


[Addition in chapter 7.4:]

Although it is highly recommended, small-scale biochar production units with an annual output of less than 20 tons are exempt of the heat recovery.

 

[Addition in chapter 9:]

In order to be reasonably proportional to the risk assessment and to the environmental protection goals, producers with an annual production capacity below 20 t of biochar are exempt from on-site inspection of production.  The compliance with production requirements is controlled by the accredited quality assurance agency via self-declaration and a detailed description of the complete production process. The requirements for biochar batch analyses, thresholds, feedstock sustainability and handling of biochar maintain the same as for industrial producers.    

 



[30th November 2014]

[Modification in chapter 4.3:]


The production period of the batch does not exceed 1 year 120 days of production within a maximum of 240 days.


[Modification in chapter 5:]

The biochar samples have to be taken following the procedure described here. Once in the first three years a sample has to be taken by the accredited controlling inspector and sent by him to the accredited laboratory.


[Erasure of point 5.4]

The analysis of black carbon content is not standardized yet and thus not practical for the standard. The thermographic analysis is sufficient to estimate the black carbon content.


[Addition in point 5.9 (former 5.10):]

Modern pyrolysis facilities produce only very low levels of PCB, dioxins and furans, meaning that one control per production unit can be considered sufficient. Dioxin content is mostly dependent on the chlorine content of the feedstock. All authorized feedstock of the feedstock positive list have low chlorine content and will produce during pyrolysis only dioxin contents that are lower than the threshold by several orders of magnitude. If the controlling organism or the EBC considers the risk of chlorine contamination of a given feedstock as relevant, they can require supplemental dioxin analyses.


[Addition of new feedstock on feedstock positive list:]

addition of manure in the section animal byproducts


 

[13th December 2013]

[Addition of chapter 5:]

5. Biochar sampling

Once a year a sample has to be taken by the accredited controlling inspector and sent by him to the accredited laboratory; further batch samples can be taken by the producer himself. 

To obtain a biochar sample as representative as possible (in terms of accuracy and precision) of a total lot (batch), it must be taken in a proper way. For this, the following general guidelines have to be followed:

  • A biochar lot (batch) subject to sampling must consist of at least one cubic meter.
  • Before sampling, the whole lot has to be thoroughly mixed 3 times by turning and piling it upside-down by means of physical replacement with a front loader or comparable technical device.
  • 15 subsamples of 1.5 L each have than to be arbitrarily gathered from different spots of the homogenized biochar lot (ISO (2006) or Bunge & Bunge (1999)).
  • The 15 subsamples have to be united and then milled to a maximum particle size of 3 mm.
  • The milled subsample has than to be homogenized thoroughly by turning and piling it 3 times upside-down.
  • A further 15 sub-subsamples of 150 mL each have to be arbitrarily taken from different spots of the gathered subsample lot.
  • The 15 sub-subsamples (totaling 2.25 L) have to be united and than mixed together thoroughly by turning and piling them 3 times upside-down.

As illustrated in Bucheli et al. (2014), such a sampling procedure my still not be sufficient to obtain truly representative samples, but assures a degree of accuracy (bias) and reproducibility (variance) affordable to compare analytical results with guide values set in this certificate. In case of biochar production by a continuous process, we advise that biochar producers implement and install incremental cross-stream sampling devices as e.g. presented in Gy (2004), allowing for representative sampling of their product.


 

[18th October 2013]


[NEW TERMINOLOGY:]

The term pyrolysis ash for pyrolysed materials with less than 50% carbon content (DM) was changed into Bio-Carbon-Minerals (BCM). We are actually in discussion with the British Biochar Quality Mandate (BBM) and the IBI to harmonize the terminology and the threshold for the carbon content of biochars. 

5.1 The biochar's carbon content must be higher than 50% of the dry mass (DM). Pyrolysed organic matter with a carbon content lower than 50% are classified as Bio-Carbon-Minerals (BCM).

The organic carbon content of pyrolysed chars fluctuates between +/- 3% and 95% of the dry mass, dependent on the feedstock and process temperature used. For instance the carbon content of pyrolysed poultry manure is around 25%, while that of beech wood is around 85% and that of bones is under 10%. 

When using mineral-rich feedstocks such as sewage sludge or animal manure, the pyrolysed products tend to have a high ash content. Pyrolysed chars with carbon contents below 50% are therefore not classified as biochar but as Bio-Carbon-Minerals (BCM).

When BCM meet all other threshold criteria of this biochar certificate, they may be marketed as Bio-Carbon-Minerals (BCM). BCM have a high nutrient content, therefore representing a valuable fertiliser additive. This does, however, mean that they belong to a different product category.


[NEW SECTION:] 5.5. The quantity of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) must be available and listed.

During the pyrolysis process aromatic carbon, carbonates and a multitude of divers volatile organic compounds are formed. The later constitute a large part of the syngas that partly condensates on biochar surfaces and pores. These condensated syngas compounds are substantial constituents of biochar materials (Spokas et al., 2011; Yang et al., 2013), are essential for certain biochar functions and thus necessary for the characterisation of biochar and BCM. The VOC-content related to the temperature of volatalisation is further an important indicator for the evaluation of the pyrolysis process.

Methode: Thermal-Gravimetric-Analysis (TGA)

Principle: The TGA determines the loss of weight of the volatile matter according to the temperature without any oxygen.

Device: Leco TGA 701

Measurement: The empty crucibles are weighed. Afterwards the sample is put in the crucibles, the lid is closed and the software starts the program appropriate to the temperature. The highest temperature is 950 °C. Nitrogen covers all samples in the TGA 701. It is heated with 10 K/min. After finishing the TGA shows the loss of weight accorded to temperature.

 

page 5: [NEW SENTENCE:] The European Biochar Certificate is a voluntary standard.

page 7: [ADDITION:] 3.1 Feedstocks must be free of paint, solvents and other organic or non-organic contaminants. 

page 9: [DELETED:] the following sentences of section 5.1 were deleted for reason of low relevence for the certificate: In the sense of using resources as efficiently and sustainably as possible, it is preferable to compost or ferment mineral-rich biomasses, or for them to be concentrated into fertiliser. In doing so, the nutrients they contain can be recycled more efficiently than by pyrolysis. The specification of carbon content is of particular relevance when working with CO2 certificates 

page 9: [DELETED/ADDED:] section 5.2: Values exceeding 0.7 are an indication of [deleted: poor] [added:] non pyrolytic chars or pyrolysis deficiencies (Schimmelpfennig and Glaser, 2012).

page 10: [DELETED:] section 5.6: Please note that [the following was deleted as the given reason is not complet and of low relevance for the certificate: , due to biochar's high adsorption capacity,] these nutrients may only partly be available to plants. 

page 11: [REFORMULATION:] section 5.7: Some minor reformulation of the first two sentences:  Except some heavy metals that are volatile or semi volatile at the temperature of pyrolysis, the amount of heavy metals contained in the originally feedstock will remain in the final product. As in composting most heavy metals will naturally be more concentrated than in the starting material. 

page 11: [NEW SPECIFICATION:] specific surface area has to be specified not only for premium quality biochar but for all certified biochar and BCM. Measuring water holding capacity of the biochar is not mandatory anymore: 5.8 The delivery slip must specify the biochar's pH value, bulk density, water content and its specific surface area. 

The water holding capacity of a given biochar is a valuable indication on it’s effectiveness in increasing a soil's water holding capacity or for humidity buffering in building materials. However it’s analysis is not mandatory. 

page 12: [NEW SPECIFICATION:] PAHs have to be specified for each batch

 


 

[19th January 2013]

 

5.3 The molar H/Corg ratio must be less than 0.7

Following the discussions between EBC and IBI to harmonize the two certificates, the EBC decided in January 2013 to change the requirement from Molar H/Ctot to Molar H/Corg and changing thus the criteria to 0.7. With exception of the carbon content, all decisive thresholds of the two certificates are thus finally harmonized. 

 

5.7 The delivery slip must specify the biochar's [...] specific surface area [...].

The specific surface area is a measure of a biochar's quality and characteristics, and a control value for the pyrolysis method used. It should preferably be higher than 150 m2/g
DM. [it was added:] In some cases lower specific surfaces area than 150 m2/g might be desirable.