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what is BIOCHAR?

Biochar is a new word for an old idea: producing charcoal and adding it to the soil to make it more productive. I have a separate pinboard "Wood Gasification" which is related; volatile compounds in biomass may be gasified for energy, but you only get biochar if combustion air is closed off. All these images lead to well produced web pages and articles worth reading. Click through!

By making biochar from brush and other hard to compost organic material, you can improve soil — it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer.

Making Biochar to Improve Soil

Dolph Cooke demonstrates biochar making for farm scale with the Moxham open barrel kiln. The "pyrolysis front" of flame consumes any unburned gases coming from the charring biomass at the bottom.

Craig Sams' company Green & Black's makes chocolate from cacao grown in organic agroforestry in Belize, and biochar made from farm-scale retorts enhances the soil sustainably.

Solar-Powered Toilet Unveiled - the product of a grant from the Gates Foundation, this equipment produces safe natural fertilizer from human waste, using biochar and solar heat. This addresses critical sanitation problems in many parts of the world which lack conventional sewage systems, and recycles the valuable nutrients that sewers waste.

Solar-Powered Toilet Unveiled

With landfill space evaporating, this disposal firm in Edmonton, Alberta sees growth potential in biochar.

VermaChar is a biochar product inoculated with a material called Ambrosia which is enriched worm castings. It is produced and sold in the Los Angeles area.

Startup Meets Los Angeles' Demand for Worm Castings

From Forbes Magazine, mainstream business attention: "Cool Planet: A Company That Makes Biochar And Gasoline"

Cool Planet: A Company That Makes Biochar And Gasoline

Frank Strie says Tasmania needs to develop a carbon economy with biochar at the centre of the state's 'clean energy' mix. "Yes, it is a revolution but a friendly one. It's far more than just looking at biochar as a single entity. It's part of a much bigger process, and it fits into organic farming, with a clean, green and clever image and land restoration."

From Carbon Gold: "Biochar has in turn been proven to improve the health and survival rates of living trees, keeping more of our CO2 absorbing trees alive and strong." This article describes demonstration projects with soil enhancements including biochar.

Using biochar to create supercapacitors

Cool Planet’s biochar production process features an extra step that tailors the biochar to best fit a particular application. As a result, field trials have shown Cool Terra can increase crop yields while reducing water and fertilizer inputs by as much as 50 percent.

The future of sustainable livestock production is here, say Cambridge researchers. Not a biochar article, but biochar could contribute to these techniques.

Biochar quiets microbes, including some plant pathogens. In this experiment, E.Coli cultures are tested for microbes' ability to signal each other in the presence of biochar with various characteristics. The goal is to provide a simple guide to tailor production temperatures for intended uses.

"Working on solutions to some of the world’s threatening environmental challenges and creating the world we want to live in is a thrilling opportunity. At Remineralize the Earth we are doing just that – working on research that has the potential to alleviate many of the environmental and agricultural problems humanity faces today, such as climate change, air pollution, unsustainable agriculture, and poor water quality."

Kelpie Wilson writes about Baron Justus Liebig, who researched the applications of charcoal long before the age of industrial agriculture: "In the 19th century, the issues that biochar could help solve were related to health, disease, poverty, and above all, the recycling of human sewage to replenish the soil."

Kiwi Biochar Experiment -- a blogger on his discoveries with biochar

Arctic News: Turning forest waste into biochar

another video by Bob Cirino, also known as Biochar Bob. on a visit to Haiti where there's been time for the soil improved with biochar to show its productivity. "be cool to the planet!" Carbon Roots International

Biochar and Prairie Biodiversity - YouTube video with Laurie Biederman of Iowa State University on using 1% and 3% biochar amendments to plantings in prairie soils. Second year of test shows increased biodiversity.

Biochar used for filtration at dirty energy's Ground Zero, Alberta: "On the tailings water we can remove up to 90 per cent of the organics and that should reduce significantly the amount of greenhouse gases that are produced when those organics in the tailings ponds get chewed up by the bacteria that live in those ponds and create methane gas."

Promising New Technology Could Reduce Emissions Using Waste

A teaspoon of soil may have billions of microbes divided among 5,000 different types, thousands of species of fungi and protozoa, nematodes, mites and a couple of termite species. How these and other pieces all fit together is still largely a mystery. [..] “The greater the soil diversity, the fewer diseases that emerge in plants,” said Eric B. Nelson, who studies soil and disease ecology at Cornell.

Josiah Hunt on Open Pit biochar production: "you 
are constantly covering the char that has been made with fresh layers of wood, which become char, which are soon covered with fresh layers of wood, which become char, and so on."

Biochar Burn Demonstration - Hawaii Biochar