West Virginia University is doing a study, using Fry Poultry Farm's Poultry litter Biochar, to improve nutrient and sediment retention as a part of their Chesapeake Bay (Cacopon River) watershed improvement project.

The West Virginia University Environmental Research Center is evaluating the use of biochar to boost reforestation efforts on reclaimed mined lands; to increase pasture and crop productivity; and as a soil amendment for golf courses and other intensive turf management applications.

They have more about the project on their web site:
http://erc.davis.wvu.edu/projects/research_projects/poultry_biochar

2011 Biomass Energy Foundation at the New England Small Farm Institute
August 7-12, 2011

The Biomass Energy Foundation (BEF, http://www.woodgas.com/) is launching around the world in 2011 its instructional five-day events called “BEF Camps”. Each BEF Camp is a structured learning experience, where the technical foundation, practical skills and fabrication methods of constructing biomass-fueled devices
are taught and put into practice with hands-on efforts by the participants.

See the Attached Flyer for more details

The Biomass Energy Foundation (BEF, http://www.woodgas.com/) is launching around the world in 2011 its instructional five-day events called “BEF Camps”. Each BEF Camp is a structured learning experience, where the technical foundation, practical skills and fabrication methods of constructing biomass-fueled devices are taught and put into practice with hands-on efforts by the participants.

Micheal Palace, May, 2011

Micheal Palace has been kind enough to share the attached poster with some of his initial work detecting Amazonian dark earths (called ABE in the poster) using satellite images from NASA's Hyperion spectrum scans of the Amazon region.

The team of scientists working on the technology have been correlating archeological evidence of the Dark Earths (ABE) and the Hyperion scans of the same areas to see if they can find a way to reliably use the scans to detect other areas of Amazonian Dark Earths. Ultimately, they'd like to use the Hyperion data to find the extent of the dark earths in the Amazon basin, and be able to provide archeologist with the statistical likelihood that there are actually ancient dark earths in the areas indicated by the scans.

University of New Hampshire has a nice write up of Micheal's work:
http://www.eos.unh.edu/Spheres_0610/palace.shtml

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Biochar generated as a by-product of combined heat and power gasification is classified as waste, for which the UK does not currently have a safety protocol for use in the open environment. The UEA is working with the Environment Agency to determine environmental tolerance limits, in order to assess potential environmental risks (ex: PAH contamination). My preliminary study aimed to measure any negative plant growth effects by amended soil with high concentrations of biochar under controlled laboratory conditions.

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Arborists in Chicago are studying the results of biochar on trees growing in urban soils that are typically hostile to trees. This research is part of a larger urban-soils study that includes applications of biochar in greenhouse and field plot settings at The Morton Arboretum. The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories have also been testing adding biochar to the soil mix when planting trees. More information and media coverage of this study about biochar and urban tree care can be found on the Bartlett Tree Experts web site.

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Biochar in the fields of Uttarakhand (part of Himalayas in Northern part of India) - traditional practices as observed. http://biocharuttarakhand.blogspot.com/ During my recent visit to parts of Uttarakhand : Khatgodam - Almora - Berinag - Ramgarh made the following observations on the biochar. Some of the fields have turned dark due the biochar added to the fields over years, the following are the main source of biochar:
1. Burning of crop residue along with the pine needles and other biomass.
2. Biochar from cook stoves, added along with farm yard manure.
Bichar and ash also found in the forests due to fire. Pine needles accumulated on the forest floor catch fire easily.

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This is a very simple Biochar TLUD kiln recently designed for Sarada Mutt (Holy Mother) named as HOLY MOTHER BIOCHAR KILN http://biocharkiln.blogspot.com/, at Almora, Uttarakhand, India. Bricks and clay is used in the construction. This is a TLUD kiln. The biomass is to be added continuously as the fire continuous. The person adding the biomass to the kiln should be cautious and also use a long stick to keep away from the fire while adding the biomass. The primay air source at the bottom should be open as long as biomass is being added. As the biomass pyrolysis happens it occupies less space and more biomass can be added. It is convenient to operate during calm days i.e., less windy days. As the biomass reaches the level just below the secondary air, the process of adding the biomass should be stopped. The primary air inlet should be closed completely. After waiting for some time water should be sprinkled to extinguish the embers (quench). The biochar can be collected immediately or after some time. This is the simplest of the process of using the wasted / waste biomass to convert into biochar. Here pine needles are used for converting into biochar. Pine needles management is a big task in these parts of Himalayas, as often they lead to forest fires destroying many trees.

Holy Mother Biochar Kiln - Design by Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, declared as Open Knowledge / OHANDA
http://okgeo.org | http://ohanda.org

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Biochar Industries in Kunghur NSW Australia was the setting for this momentous occasion. Monday 16th of May 2011.

With an even bigger surprise to come this statement by an Australian Biochar Expert.

“This is the first Adam Retort in Australia and it will be the first commercial Adam retort in the western world” Said Dr Paul Taylor PhD Author and Editor of the Book The Biochar Revolution. This statement had Charmaster Dolph Cooke falling off his chair.

Read the whole story on www.biocharproject.org.

Story by Charmaster Dolph Cooke

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Biochar Basics
with Charmaster Dolph Cooke from
Biochar Industries

When : 28th may at 9:00am…
Where : Bio Organic Farm
2 Boulder Byangum NSW 2484
Duration : 3 hours
Cost : $15.00 per person.
Contact : Zehavit & Avi

E: organic_farm@bigpond.com T: +61 2 6672 7078

You will learn –
• How to make Biochar
• How to condition Biochar
• Some of Biochar’s amazing properties
• How to create your own free kiln
• About Biochar Learning Circles locally
• Hands on practical applications for Biochar

Plus get to have your questions answered over a cuppa and a fire whilst networking with likeminded farmers and gardeners

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=174333195954963
http://biocharproject.org/biochar-basics-show-28th-byangum-nsw-australia/

Charmaster Dolph Cooke

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Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE, Alterna Biocarbon Inc.

As the world of biochar expands, the need for definitive research to answer core questions grows. One such question is “What is the role of adsorption and when does it make a pivotal difference in growing situations?” Answering those questions has been hampered by the historical absence of adsorption as a monitored property in soils and soil components (as compared to CEC) and the lack of a reliable method to create low and high adsorption biochars. While there is little that can be done about the former situation, the later may have a fairly facile solution, which will be presented here.

A study recently completed in New Zealand found that adding biochar to the soils of pastures where Cows (ruminants) were grazing sharply decreased the excess nitrous oxide from the cows urine. It appears that the biochar helps the soil absorb the extra gasses although long term testing of the effect of cow urine and pasture with biochar still needs to be done.

You can get the Full Report, or read the Abstract from the American Society of Agronomy web site:
https://www.agronomy.org/publications/jeq/abstracts/40/2/468

Biochar Incorporation into Pasture Soil Suppresses in situ Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Ruminant Urine Patches
by Arezoo Taghizadeh-Toosi,Tim J. Clougha, Leo M. Condronab, Robert R. Sherlocka, Craig R. Andersonb and Robin A. Craigiec
Published in the Journal of Environmental Quality Vol. 40 No. 2, p. 468-476

A summary is here: Can Biochar Help Suppress Greenhouse Gases?

Jock Gill, April 2011
Peacham, Vermont, usa

For more about making the iCan stoves see: The Peacham iCan TLUD instructions on the Stove site


My little iCan made from a 3 lbs Costco coffee can boiled 1.75 liters of water in 42 minutes this afternoon. Ambient temp was 47 [8.33C]. This was done in 5 batches averaging 350 ml each. A very clean burn. Some soot at the start of each batch when the water was cold. Just a soon as the water in the cup warmed up a bit, the soot stopped.

Of course I also made some biochar as well.

Fuel was a good quality wood pellet. Cost of fuel: about 17 cents assuming pellets at $230 per ton. They can be bought for a good deal less, but I am using a higher number to be safe.

Cost per liter boiled: ~ 7.4 cents, allowing 4 cents as the value of the biochar captured at the rate of 17.5% of the dry weight of the fuel.

Bartlett Tree Experts April, 2011

In Chicago, Bartlett Tree Experts are experimenting with applying biochar to benefit urban street trees. They have more detailed information in their company press release:
http://www.bartlett.com/tree-expert-news-details.cfm?id=72

From the picture it appears that they are drilling holes and side-dressing about 60 existing trees in the Wicker Park/Bucktown community. The application started this year and the study will continue for the next two years.

All trees were aerated with the same number of holes – no matter the treatment.

100% biochar was applied. This was applied by itself, in combination with fertilizer and a fertilizer only treatment was also applied. Control trees only were aerated and immediately backfilled with the soil from the hole. Biochar was applied at a rate of 1/8 pound dry weight per square foot surface area.

from their site:

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I have been making a LOT of charcoal using the PYROMID method: Stack up a lot wood (as from cutting up a brush pile for instance) in a DENSE pyramid, any size. Use tinder to light the apex of the pyramid at the top.

The reaction zone will quitely ignite layer after layer with the upper layers of charcoal protected from burning by the expanded layer of deoxygenated ("dephlogisticated") gas rising by natural convection. Avoid windy days that would blow the protective gas sideways.

Stand by with a hose of watering cans to wet any char that extends beyond the protection and to put out the whole pile when done. After you think it's out, think again because small embers can hide and come alive again.

Tom Reed
Pyrologist

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Hugh and Jerry did a super job of introducing biochar at Heating the NE but obviously next year this session needs to be expanded to a more complete exploration of the potentials.

I'm lucky to have Hugh so nearby to assist me and now that I've found an avenue of biochar use (inoculation). I am in need of some techniques that create as much as possible as easily as possible. Probably the next thing Hugh and I'll be trying is a variation on John Roger's 55 gal. TLUD. My "3 barrel top lit up draft rocket retort" is dead at the moment as I've burned up all my little retort barrels and I want something that makes more than 5 gallons of char/hr.

L. Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, April 2011

Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen's book includes a short section on Biochar. Their book makes their case through including short profiles on people working in the areas they are highlighting. Both the International Biochar Initiative, and Nat Mulcahy's World Stoves project in Haiti are mentioned.

Green Biz has a recent review: http://www.greenbiz.com/business/research/bookstore/2011/04/11/climate-c...

On the Practical Biology web site, there's a nicely done lesson plan that lays out how to do biochar, and biochar + compost tests with Broad Beans

Lesson plan link:

http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/practical-biology/investigating-effects-biochar-soil-fertility

This lesson plan talks kids through laying out a plot test with proper controls and blending biochar.

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Biochar Engineering, LaHave Forests Blog

The Biochar Machine built by Biochar Engineering for LaHave Forests is complete, and ready for testing. They are excited to put it into production on their property in Nova Scotia, Canada.

For the full excerpt see their blog:
http://www.novaforests.com/lahave-blog/biochar-machine-is-now-ready-for-...

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Method and results

Method: Top lit updraft (TLUD) pyrolysis in a small and simple selfmade stove. When the pyrolysis zone hits bottom and the big bright flame reduces to a small blue flame, then the stove is closed airtight with a lid and covered with a can and let cool down. Burn time ca. 35min. Batch size: 325g. Total pellet input: 2264g.

Resulting char:
* Ashes: negligible (mostly from lighting the stove)
* Pellet energy yield: 75%
* Volume reduction: ca. 50% (from visual inspection, To do: measurement from photo)
* Weight: 15%
* Water absorption: 125% of char weight (at ca. 16°C)
* Charred pellets don’t fall apart

"Energy yield": Alas my TLUD stove just gives nice light and is not useable for indoor heating. Modern pellet heating systems run at 85%-95% efficiency. According to the manufacturer, pellets give 5kWh/kg, being 18GJ/t. According to this wood has 18-22GJ/t and charcoal has 30GJ/t, i.e. 8.3kWh/kg. Alas I don’t have the lab to check this with my peculiar kind of charcoal. Energy yield computed as (5 - 0.15 * 8.3) / 5 = 0.751

Volume reduction is roughly in accordance with estimates in en.wikipedia Charcoal and de.wikipedia Holzkohle.

According to en.wikipedia, weight reduction should be 25%. The lower number is to be expected,

* from the characteristics of TLUD pyrolysis: "more of the bio-oil condensates are driven off" (loc. cit.).
* as wood pellets are made from saw dust, the wood pores are more accesible and volatile components easier driven off.

The higher porosity is reflected in the huge water absorption of 125% of char weight:

* Great benefit for use as soil additive
* Probably better control of long term recalcitrance, as the short term decaying matter is burned out. (See discussion on blog here)

Other than standard BBQ charcoal, my pellet charcoal needs not to be cooked to gain its full water holding capacity: A few days in cold water suffice. (To do: determine water holding capacity of BBQ char.)

for more detail see their web page:
http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/Experiments+in+biochar#the_fossil_fools_cost_in_euro_per_ton_4

All Power Labs BEK (Biochar Experimenter’s Kit) is being assembled at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB... the research arm of the Malaysian palm oil industry).

This initiative is part of the biochar research collaboration between MPOB and UniKL MICET. The BEK (Biochar Experimenter’s Kit) is a reconfiguration of GEK components to create a multi-mode pyrolysis machine for characterized biochar and bio-oil making. The BEK supports multiple pyrolysis process modes in direct combustion (updraft, TLUD and stratified downdraft), indirect combustion retort, and sweep gas through bed heat transfer.

Jay from ALL Power Labs in Berkeley, California was on hand to guide the assembly process and provide some initial training. The first solids consumed by the BEK were palm kernel shell, one of the more easily digestible biomass waste feed-stocks from the PO industry. More difficult wastes such as EFB will be targeted for production research and soil trials.

More Information on the South East Asia Biochar page: http://sea-biochar.blogspot.com

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Article originally written by Micheal Rost for the Soil Food Web Insights Newsletter

See the attached Soil Food Web Insights Newsletter for the full report, and check out their web site, http://soilfoodweb.com/ for more information.

excerpt:

The biochar concept has challenged scientists to figure out the best approach to turning waste organic material into stable carbon. This exciting new development has attracted the attention of researchers like John Miedema.

Miedema is collaborating on biochar research with Oregon State University and USDA-ARS
and is funded by a Western Oregon timber company. He was an early adopter of the global warming
concept, and is concerned with mitigating the amount of excess CO2 being deposited in the Earth’s
atmosphere. He’s also concerned about devising new methods to feed the population of the world.

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Swiss-Biochar Swiss-Biochar GmbH

The biochar is produced from urban lop, grape pomace, wood, miscanthus and other suitable biomasse. The biochar production is guaranteed climate-positive and free from eco-toxicological substances. The high quality biomasses are pyrolysed at 400 to 450°C to come up with particularly effective microporosity of the biochar. It is recommended to activate the biochar with ripe compost at a volume ratio of 1:1 until 1:2. We recommend the application of 10 tonnes of biochar per hectare or 1 kilogram per square meter.

For more information please contact:
Swiss Biochar,
http://www.swiss-biochar.com/
La Coulette 5, 1092 Belmont sur Lausanne,
info@swiss-biochar.com

Robert Flanagan, February 2011

An overview of the compounded fertilizer plant here in Hangzhou:

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Trip Allen, February, 2011


Biocharm™ comes in 15-quart bags and is ready to be mixed into garden soil.

Buy Biocharm™ “Pre-charged” Biochar Soil Amendment
at your local garden Center or through their web site:
http://biocharm.com/

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John McLaughlin explaining Biochar at Biomass Day sponsored by The Vermont Wood Pellet Co

Video by Emily Peyton

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