October 16, 2023 – Clean AgTech company Qualterra has been awarded a second competitive Industrial Symbiosis grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce (DOC) to expand on its project from the initial round of Industrial Symbiosis Grants in 2022. This newly awarded DOC grant funded project is distinct from Qualterra’s year 1 project in that the biochar formulations produced from industrial/agricultural biomass residues will be used in extensive greenhouse trials at Qualterra’s R&D Farm in Spangle, WA, wherein Qualterra will test the impact of biochar derived from different feedstocks on a variety of different crops, and at multiple concentrations. The research will support studies on application rates and formulations conducted in agricultural crops typical to Washington state. “This new industrial symbiosis grant funded project represents the logical next step in Qualterra’s efforts to make its Biomass Processing Unit (BPU) technology and ARS concept a mainstream avenue for climate-smart industry and agriculture in Washington and in the U.S.” said David Drinkard, VP Of Engineering at Qualterra.
Qualterra received support from the DOC Industrial Symbiosis Program beginning in 2022 to develop a pilot “Agriculture Regeneration Station” (ARS) for the processing of agricultural, timber, and other industrial biomass waste. In the pilot project, Qualterra set up a biomass processing unit the site located outside of Spangle, Washington, conducted a carbon lifecycle analysis, and demonstrated the feasibility of processing agricultural and timber waste streams into useful end-products while generating carbon-negative renewable energy that will be used in the Qualterra greenhouse. The first year’s work established proof of feasibility for Qualterra’s BPUs’ capacity to convert biomass waste that would typically be burned or decay over time (releasing CO2 into the atmosphere) into a carbon sequestering product. “This work will be critical to understand what types and amounts of biochar are most conducive to growth of specific crops. It is already known that different crops, and even different cultivars of the same crop, respond differently to different biochar treatments; however, efforts to establish the best biochar regime in a crop-specific way are limited, especially at the applied level”, explains Dr. Seanna Hewitt, Senior Genomics Scientist and Grants Management Specialist at Qualterra.
Qualterra CEO Mike Werner shared said: “We are grateful for our partnership with the Washington State Department of Commerce as they share our vision for industries working together to develop climate smart solutions that can be implemented immediately. The team at Qualterra is committed to working tirelessly to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to support the agriculture industry.”
Qualterra is an agricultural technology company on a mission to create innovations in agriculture and sustainability. Qualterra’s platform of technologies follow a plant life cycle from molecular plant testing and breeding support to propagation and nursery technologies through ag biomass waste processing and carbon capture technologies. Qualterra, headquartered in Washington State, USA, has three commercial facilities located in the main agricultural production area of the state.