DYPER has developed a technology called BYOCHAR that turns soiled diapers into biochar to combat climate change.
Soiled diapers in landfills are harmful
A baby can use up to 8,000 disposable diapers before being potty trained. Four million metric tons of disposable diapers are thrown away every year in the United States. Most soiled diapers are disposed of in landfills, where they can take several decades or even centuries to decompose.
But this makes things happen that are bad for the environment. Not only do dirty diapers put feces into the groundwater, but they also give off methane (CH₄), which is a greenhouse gas 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide (CO₂). Since the beginning of the industrial age, about 30% of global warming has been caused by methane.
DYPER turns soiled diapers to biochar
Biochar is a carbon-rich product that is made by heating organic waste in a process called pyrolysis. This turns soiled diapers into a solid stable carbon that can be used in agriculture and other applications. The process is presented in the following video.
The soiled diapers are collected and transported to a BYOCHAR reactor.
In the reactor, diapers are heated to a high temperature (usually above 500 ºC), which is enough heat to break apart bio-polymers.
Pyrolysis is carried out in the absence of oxygen or with limited oxygen supply. This keeps the material from burning completely and instead helps the organic material break down into different by-products.
As the material is heated, it releases gasses and volatile compounds like carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H₂), CO₂, CH₄, and water vapor. These gasses can be burned on-site to give the pyrolysis process the heat it needs. The remaining solid material in the reactor is carbon-rich biochar.
The BYOCHAR reactors convert DYPER diapers to biochar yielding an 80% reduction in mass. They can process two tons of diapers per day, which is 12 diapers every minute.
DYPER’s BYOCHAR technology cuts down on diaper waste and the need for landfill spaces. It also makes a reusable product that can improve soil and help purify air and water.
Biochar technologies are emerging to combat climate change
In addition to DYPER, many other companies have developed technologies that convert biomass into stable biochar to combat climate change.
Arbor Energy, an American climate tech company founded in 2022, develops a modular, compact system that converts biomass into carbon-negative electricity and clean water, while also permanently removing CO₂ from the atmosphere via a process known as Biomass Carbon Removal and Storage (BiCRS).
Carba, an American climate tech company founded in 2021, develops carbon removal technology using low-temperature pyrolysis (torrefaction) to convert biomass waste into biochar, which can then be buried to seal carbon in place for generations.
Carbo Culture, a Finnish climate tech company founded in 2018, has developed a carbon removal technology known as Carbolysis™, which uses a pyrolysis reactor operating at high temperature and pressure to convert biomass waste into stable biochar, thereby locking carbon safely away for centuries. Additionally, the process produces syngas that can be used to generate clean electricity.
Carbofex, a Finnish company founded in 2016, has developed a thermal pyrolysis technology that produces non-energent biochar from biomass while permanently removing CO₂ from the natural carbon cycle. Carbofex was selected as one of the top 15 teams to receive a $1M Milestone Prize in the XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition.
The interest in BiCRS is growing due to its potential to mitigate climate change and store carbon it in a more sustainable manner. As the technology matures and gains wider acceptance, the BiCRS market is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years.