High Value Carbon Based Materials


Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of carbon enriched materials such as biomass under an inert atmosphere. Pyrolysis has the potential to mitigate environmental impacts of biomass waste while producing value-added product such as oil (liquid fraction) biogas (gas fraction) and biochar (solid fraction). All of these fractions have a commercial value, the solid fraction – biochar – is a carbon rich compound like charcoal. Biochar has many applications such as contaminant adsorbent, fertiliser, soil ameliorant and can be used for energy production. However, some of these applications have low commercial value. To increase the interest of these products new value-added applications have to be developed.

James Cook University has expertise in pyrolysis of biomass and impact of pyrolysis conditions on biochar properties and yield. We are currently developing value-added applications for the biochar. We are using this biochar to adsorb emergent contaminants, which represents a serious problem to global population, and in Queensland, Australia these emergent contaminants are having a negative impact on the Great Barrier Reef. In addition to an environmental application, the principal focus of our research is in the production of high value carbon structures, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes from biochar, of which there are many high value applications.

figure 1

Figure 1. Schematic flow chart of biochar value add production stages.

We also seek to change the approach of transforming waste to materials. Value-added materials will be advanced into innovative filaments for 3D printing (see diagram). This concept will allow people to apply a localised process to convert waste into production of their own materials where and when is required.

Further Details

J Env. Management Vol. 203, 2017, page 264‑272 https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.07.071

  • Zero-waste production (using waste to produce high value products)
  • 3D printing of value-added materials for specific applications
  • No storage of spare parts
  • In-situ manufacturing

3D printing of carbon based polymers can be tailored for many applications, such as:

  • Defence industry
  • Aerospace industry
  • Aeronautical industry
  • Electronic industry

The commercial opportunities in this field are many, and large. JCU are seeking to establish research partnerships with industry to understand and explore challenges around waste disposal and / or developing high value manufacturing materials. JCU are committed to investigating these challenges with our partners in search of new and environmentally sustainable products.


  • Development partner
  • Commercial partner
  • No patent
  • Know-how based
  • Copyright