Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE, Alterna Biocarbon Inc. , January 2010

Biochar is a vague term that applies to a potentially broad class of charcoal materials intended for addition to soils. Many raw materials and conversion processes can lay claim to producing biochar, and the resulting biochars will have different characteristics. The purpose of this discussion is to formulate a simple scheme for characterizing biochars before addition to soils. Efforts will be made to discuss the logic behind the individual characteristics, in addition to the limitations of the individual assays.

The presentation and content here is consistent with the paper titled

This is a three-part brief description of the World Stove Everything Nice stove made by Al Hislop and Patty Roberts, with Ron Larson participating in the first tests, January, 2010.

World Everything Nice StoveWorld Everything Nice Stove
Plans Available at: http://worldstove.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/EverythingNice_Stove_Instructions.pdf

Richard Haard, January 2010

Here is a simple screening test comparing herbicide inactivation by Biochar and Activated Charcoal. This test can be used to screen the relative adsorbtive capacity of your home made biochar by testing with an easily obtained herbicide, Caseron.

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Upper left treated set from right: activated charcoal powder, biochar granular, Caseron only
Upper right control set from right: activated charcoal, biochar, untreated.

Go to here for original image in high resolution (click original size) to view this up close

This test is with Caseron (dichlorobenil). Many other herbicides, pesticides are neutralized by activated charcoal. Use of activated charcoal is common accepted practice to clean up pesticide residues that result in poor performance via root development, germination, plant growth and vigor. Many herbicides such as Atrazine, Proamide, Amitrole and many others have either residual effect in soil or are transmitted in water. UC Riverside has nice tool for accessing leaching and runoff risk of chemicals as these here And as example here is profile for Atrazine, a widely used herbicide in corn production.

Results in plant performance then obtained with biochar that has adsorbtion properties similar to activated charcoal may be better explained by deactivation of toxins and/or natural/introduced inhibitors. Conversely farmers using herbicides as part of their normal production cycle may lose efficiency of their chemical applications if used coincidental with biochar.

Whether this property of biochar continues over time after active sites are filled up is not known to me and also whether these toxins are eventually degraded or released gradually in diluted form.

Properties: 

Jock Gill, January 2010

Grass Biochar made from a mulch hay tablet, and also from a crushed hay tablet.

See how the structure survives in the uncrushed tablet.

Laurens Rademakers, Biochar Fund
December, 2009

See the attachment for full sized pictures.

we've designed a new biomass stove that produces char. The stove is a simple hybrid of a rocket stove and a retort. We would be glad if you could upload it to the stoves list, because we want to see what the community thinks of it. It is only a concept, even though we've tested some basic design steps.

We will be testing this design at our large biochar site in Congo, where our project soon kicks off.

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Biochar Fund, Kumba, Cameroon
Septemer, 2009

Since December 2008, more than 1500 subsistence farmers in Cameroon's South-West Region (SWR) have been participating in the largest-ever field trial testing the effects of biochar on crop productivity. The first results of this ongoing experiment, based on maize planted in a large series of plots, are now available. The data can be described as 'remarkable', in that they demonstrate how biochar consistently helps to boost crop productivity in tropical soils, sometimes in a spectacular manner.

The preliminary results suggest that biochar may offer a solution to hunger and food insecurity amongst the world's poorest, as well as to soil depletion and tropical deforestation.

Data Page with Current Results

Project Photo Pages with Participant and Plant Photos

See the Biochar Fund Report Page for an the Full Report, and continuing updates

Country: 

Helferty, December, 2009

Biochar Products is in the early stages of developing a biochar 10 Dry Ton Per Day biochar plant to be located on the old Ellingson Lumber mill site near Halfway, Oregon.

http://www.biochar-products.com/
BioChar Products
PO Box 875
Halfway, OR 97834

Product 1 - BioChar
Carbon Negative
Used as soil amendment
Reduces Greenhouse Gases

Product 2 - Bio-Oil
Used in place of fuel oil
Renewable energy source

Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, Andhra Pradesh, India
December, 2009

Vuthisa, November, 2009

They have kindly put together a great How to Make charcoal in your own backyard

I recently did some trials with 2 x 55 gal drums inside my fabricated Portable Metal Kiln. I recently increased the kiln width from 1.1 to 1.4 metre diam to accept 3 x 55 gal drums and although more testing is required I am satisfied with the MO. I have created a Google Group to discuss issues around its construction and usage. http://vuthisa.com/biochar/
Cost: Under $800
Availability: DIY

Regards
Kobus

Updated September, 2012:

Country: 

R. Diermair November, 2009

Attached as a Power Point file and a PDF is a nicely illustrated guide to creating a TLUD (top lit up-draft) biochar retort with two barrels. As he notes, understanding the TLUD is critical to getting reliable, clean take a look at our other TLUD References for more guidance.

The amazing Frank Jeffers demonstrated the art of the distructive distillation of wood at the Northeast Biochar Symposium a few days ago.
It featured water jacketed pipe for condensing pyrolysis products which flowed under baby oil in glass jars, gas storage under a floating barrel and ultimately running an internal combustion engine.

Sean Barry, November 2009

Look what I just made! I used a 46 oz juice can , a 14 oz kernel corn can, a can opener, a strip of tin, and some tin snips.

I will see if it can boil water now and makes charcoal out of wood chips. Then maybe I can send a you tube link. This is my first mock up of of the educational tool about biochar that I was thinking of developing and telling you about in Washington this past September. When it makes char, it should be smokeless, especially with dry feedstock, easy and cheap to build out of normal household stuff. and simple to use.

With a little tiny bit of charcoal (maybe close to a cup?) it could be put into two of four milk carton bottom test pots, then fertilizer in one with char and one without char. They kids could plant something grows fast and maybe edible (beans sprouts?), then measure the performance of their own soil with a real experiment (1/4 control, 1/4 just fertilizer, 1/4 both charcoal and fertilizer, 1/4 just charcoal. (just like my garden).

It could be an experiment started this winter after the holidays and ending late this spring before school let's out.

Chris Adam Kiln Chars Coconut Shells in Kenya
November 5, 2009

Cocnut Husk in Kenya
Coconut Husk in Kenya

A Chris Adam Kiln retort which was built a year ago at the Kenyan Coast.

They are using it 3x a week to carbonize coconut shells and it seems to work well.

--Chris

More information about the Adam's Retort is on their site: http://www.biocoal.org/3.html

Processes: 
Country: 

Nikolaus Foidl, October, 2009

Recent literature suggest that the split from a common ancestor between rice and the ancestor of maize happened some 45 to 60 million years ago. Maize was formed from teosinte as a common ancestor. Sorghum apparently split from the common ancestor with maize sometimes between 16.6 and 11.9 million years ago.

If the environment is overcharging the abilities of the gene set, then the plant seems simply to split up in different lines of development (??), although keeping the, during evolution silenced gene sets, or inactivated subprograms.

Now and then, trigger events, like stress or chemical influence, or not compatible gene sets in hybridizations, cause those silenced subprograms to activate and express themselves causing to see, what

North American Biochar Conference: Proceedings Available
October , 2009

Conference Sessions, Papers and Presentations are now available for the North American Biochar Conference9 - 12 August, 2009

http://cees.colorado.edu/northamericanbiochar.html

Biomass Heating System and Biochar
Burt's Greenhouse , Kingston, Ontario, Canada
http://www.burtsgh.com/index.php/environmental/biomass/

"Since 2005 Burt's Greenhouses have been heating their greenhouses with Biomass. What is Biomass? In our case it is wood. We burn waste wood (wood collected from construction, furniture manufactures, skids, etc. It this wood were not used in this way it would likely be land-filled.

Nando M. Breiter
The CarbonZero Project

0736 shows my kiln, filled with wood to char. Nevermind that it looks a little blacked ( ... aborted previous attempt)

0737 shows the new cover I cut this afternoon, from 3mm sheet steel

0738 shows some firebricks arranged on top of the cover, it's weighted to help seal it. The fact that it's not screwed or clamped down allows for a simple pressure relief valve that won't get clogged with tar.

0739 shows the planned positioning of an afterburner, centered on the cover plate

0740 shows the stove pipe chimney on top of the afterburner.

The retort is surrounded with firebrick and heated from below, using a bit of firewood. It's an air tight process, rather than a restricted oxygen flow process. This allows close control of the pyrolysis temperature.

Biochar on the Farm
Josh Frye, International Biochar initiative, October 14, 2009

Erich Knight, Musical Inspiration

Clock is Tickin' (Bio-Char rap funk blues)

Words by: Don Steck, Tracy Rush, Erich Knight
Music by: Tracy Rush, Don Steck, Frank Skavenski

IBI Conference Updates
Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE, Paul S. Anderson, PhD, Frank E. Shieldsand Thomas B. Reed, PhD

After much expansion and refinement, the final copy (Version 2) of the "All Biochars..." paper has been released back to the NABC (North America Biochars Conference, Boulder Colorado, August 2009) for inclusion in their proceedings.

ABSTRACT

The use of charcoal as a soil amendment and for CO2 sequestration raises many questions about the characteristics of those

MAKING BIOCHAR: with Peter Hirst of New England Biochar

Many thanks to George Packard of Parrot Creek Productions, Warner, New Hampshire for some really fine work. This is the short version of greater works in progress. Very well done by George and much appreciated.

Peter Hirst

Nikolaus Foidl, September, 2009

Some Photos which prove that normal 450 degree Saligna char for barbequu use is quite bug friendly, housing demand for three different bugs is high and the bugs are still alive after digging through and forming there pupae. So high toxicity of the volatiles or the char it self seems to be an issue to overcome by some bugs. ( or its an other urban myth to be busted?) If a swiss cheese would look like this the would advertise him as an aerogel.
Please add the photos to your collection in the bio char list.
With my best regards Nikolaus

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