KFU is starting the year of 2014 with new cooperation. Kazan Federal University in cooperation with Kazan National Research Technological University (KNRTU) and Lincoln University (USA) will study bio-char.
An International Research and Production Centre is planned to be opened on the basis of KFU in this connection.
Reference information. Bio-char is natural raw material. It is got by high-temperature thermochemical decay of biomass of vegetable origin without oxygen supply (pyrolysis). In contrast to coal which is used for heat production, bio-char is particularly used in agriculture as an ameliorating agent. It helps nutrient substances accumulate in soil and positively influences strength of population, composition and activity of microorganisms living in soil, which determine soil fertility and crop yield. Bio-char can keep carbon in soil, which results in carbon dioxide content decrease in atmosphere and correspondingly facilitates greenhouse effect reduction on our planet. Bio-char also plays important part in moist retention in soil under drought conditions.
According to the head of Pedology Department of the Institute of Fundamental Medicine and Biology, Mr. Boris Grigoriyan, an American scientist, pedologist specializing in bio-char study, Professor of the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences of Lincoln University (Missouri, USA), Mr. Maxim Raymond Bayan, will be one of the project supervisors. When he arrived in Kazan, researchers discussed the idea of an International Research Centre organising with him.
We met with Professor Raymond Bayan after the New Year holidays before his departure to the US.
‑ Professor, could you tell us about the purpose of organising an International Research Centre for bio-char study in Kazan.
- I have been studying bio-char for more than three years already. It’s a unique raw material which can be used in different branches of agriculture, such as corn and vegetable farming, horticulture, animal husbandry, poultry breeding, fishery, as well as in pharmaceutics, foodstuff manufacturing, nanotechnologies, civil and industrial engineering, supercondenser production. Bio-char is a perfect agent to improve soil fertility. It is used as an organic additive retaining water and nutrient substances in soil. My experiments have proved that soy bean crop yield doubles if 2% of bio-char is added to soil only.
Bio-char application as a fodder additive for cows improves milk quality, in poultry farming it improves poultry meat and egg quality. High electrical conductivity permits to use it in solar cell panel production, which is more cost-efficient than use of other materials. Furthermore, absorbing properties of char are widely known, that’s why it is actively used in construction as the wall layer capable of absorbing hazardous substances and smells, to say nothing of biochar application in various treatment facilities. Bio-char production process is amazing: gaseous and liquid fuel is generated therein in addition to bio-char itself, the former can be used both for production itself and other utility purposes.
Thus our goal is to study different bio-char properties and find economically efficient spheres of its application in agriculture, animal husbandry, pharmacology and industry. Such research centres exist all over the world: in the US, West Europe, Japan and Australia. So, we decided to create such a centre in Kazan. For instance, KNRTU is already working at raw material production, while KFU and Lincoln University conduct deep analysis of bio-char properties.
‑ This Centre will be located in Kazan. Are you planning to work remotely?
‑ You see, I am so inspired by the idea of this project implementation namely in Russia – the homeland of my ancestors – that I want to spend as much time in Kazan as possible.
‑ Your roots are here, in Russia, aren’t they?
‑ Yes, that’s right! My ancestors are from Russia, but unfortunately I don’t know from which region exactly. Since my childhood I have been schooled to Russian culture, I have read literature, I know the history of this great country. I was really happy to visit my motherland.
‑ You gave lectures for KFU students. What was young people’s attitude towards them? Did they show interest in them?
‑ I noticed one characteristic feature in Kazan University students – it’s thirst for knowledge, eagerness to study. Postgraduates made me especially happy; they asked so interesting questions, which permitted me to conclude that they knew science really well. They have a potential. During one of our conversations with Mr. Boris Grigoriyan we discussed prospects of exchange programs for students of KFU and Lincoln University. We hope to make this idea a reality.
‑ What are your impressions of this trip to Kazan?
‑ The best ones! I like Kazan very much. It’s my second time here. During this very trip I tried to learn as more as possible about the city: I visited churches, mosques, museums, saw Evgeny Onegin performance, but Kazan University was, of course, the brightest impression. It is one of the oldest universities in Russia and one of the most ambitious, I must say. I’ve heard of its participation in Top-100 program, and I suppose that it has every chance of success.
For Prof. Bayan’s presentation “Bio-char Effects on Soybean Growth and Nodulation” follow the link