North America

Charcoal from Comets, Asteroids and Wildfires
Tom Miles, May 28, 2007

There is speculation that pockets of charcoal that resulted in enriched soil came variously from comets and asteroids and resulting wildfires, as well as intentional burning. The latest comet event has been reported as 12,900 years ago in North America. See Science Daily:
Did A Comet Hit Great Lakes Region, Fragment Human Populations, 12,900 Years Ago? May 23, 2007

and National Geographic News:
Comet Wiped Out Early North American Culture, Animals, Study Says May 23,2007

Potential extraterrestrial causes of terra preta formation are discussed in the literature from Cornell University and elsewhere. It has also been debated on the Hypography Science Forum.


antria Industries LLC has officially opened an industrial-scale biochar production facility in Dunlap, Tenn., after weeks of testing and a smooth “first burning.”

The company has been working for the past eight months to develop biorefineries that transform biomass waste into biochar through a pressurized partially pyrolytic gasification system.

A standard process system consists of two 3.5-ton autoclave (reactor) units, which are pressurized and sealed once the biomass is loaded into canisters and placed inside. Electric heaters are turned on to ignite the feedstock then turned off, and the autoclave temperature is controlled by a dual-draft process. Under elevated pressure and heat, the feedstock will begin to carbonize at specific temperatures, ranging from 400 to 800 degrees Celsius (750 to 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit). During carbonization, gases from the process are pumped through catalysts, broken down into simpler compounds and sent through filters to scrub them. When the 25- to-40-minute process is complete, the biochar is set in a cooling pool for 24 hours.

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