Our biochar program reduces tree waste and improves soil health. It also removes carbon from the air.


We are using biochar technology to aid the environment in many ways:

  • Stop climate change
  • Improve soil quality
  • Reduce waste

See how biochar works

See neighborhoods using biochar

Minneapolis is a world leader

  • Minneapolis is one of seven cities in the world to receive grant funding for biochar projects.
  • We are using our funding to build a biochar facility at 670 25th Ave. SE

See biochar facility

How biochar works


Biochar is a specialized charcoal created by heating wood up to 700 degrees. Heating the wood changes its structure by creating small pores.

It helps the environment by:

  • Acting as a sponge that holds nutrients and water in the soil
  • Pulling carbon out of the air and storing it in the soil for centuries

Types of biochar

Biochar comes in many shapes, sizes and types. We can produce biochar different ways to help the environment.

Biochar types can vary based on:

  • The type of wood or material that is used
  • The temperature it’s heated to
  • The amount of time the material is heated

Reducing wood waste

Minneapolis is currently losing tree canopy cover due to the Emerald Ash Borer. The removal of ash trees increases wood debris.

We will use this infested wood to produce biochar to decrease:

  • Carbon emissions
  • Environmental issues

Biochar facility

What facility will do

  • The facility will receive up to 3,600 tons of wood waste.
  • We will be able to convert the waste into 500 tons of biochar each year.
  • The International Biochar Initiative (IBI) Certification Program will certify our biochar.
  • The biochar will go through a series of tests for certification.

Read about the Biochar Initiative


  • Fall 2023: City did site design for the facility. Permit and approvals complete.
  • Winter 2023/2024: We will prepare the site and and begin construction.
  • Spring 2024: We will finish construction and start production operations.

Low levels of emissions

The production machine we will use creates very low levels of emissions.

Our facility will use natural gas to bring the system up to the target heat level:

  • This will take 15 to 30 minutes once per day.
  • When the system is at the heat level, the natural gas supply will shut off.
  • The system will then be self-heated by recycling the gases given off by the wood.
Health Department Carbon Sequestration Program Manager Jim Doten.

Harvesting hope

Jim Doten’s improved food systems around the world. As the city's Carbon Sequestration Program Manager, he’s bringing the benefits of biochar to our community.

Contact us

Minneapolis Health Department




Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 520
Minneapolis, MN 55415