Can Biochar Save the Planet? well, maybe not, but it is a really cool old/new technology with great applications - some of which can be carbon negative! all the detail you may have missed from the Ignite Portland Talk.
Erin Rasmussen Biochar talk from Ignite Portland 12
Terra Preta of the Amazon
Charcoal in Soils is 3500 year
old technology, still in use today
Terra Preta photos from Peru, where it is found in ancient soils, and in modern gardens.
Biochar is Charcoal
(Biochar is defined by the IBI as stable charcoal for use in soils).
straw & stover
Forest fuel reduction tree thinning
Biochar is made from
(sustainably sourced materials)
switchgrass & post consumer paper
Pyrolized - (heated in
a low oxygen environment)
generating heat and/or power,
with low emissions (clean air is important)
and high quality char = stable char
60% or more
Small fraction of
Organics. + Ash
Biochars pass rigorous Carbon
Biochar is mostly stable carbon (1000+ years)
Biochar is mostly composted
of stable graphene sheets
With SEM see structure from the original material.
Biochar’s structure makes it great for soils!
Biochar is porous.
It absorbs water, soil
nutrients & fertilizers
The surface adsorbs
(sticks to) metals,
toxins. It’s charcoal; it
filters the soil and
provides a good home
for beneficial microorganisms.
Farmers using biochar report their plants do better during droughts!
New England Small Farm Institute
and plants LOVE composted char!
Peru kitchen garden
New England Small Farm Institute
control | biochar+
Give biochar to farmers, and they get results!
Hawaii Biochar, Composted Trial with Pacific Biodiesel’s Project on Oahu
Control (no char)
Control: 1.4 lbs Biochar: 9 lbs (6.4x control)
There are over 1140 articles in scientific journals studying plants and Biochar.
Biochar is stable carbon returned to the soil.
Carbon cycle graphics U.S. Department of Energy Genomic Science program and the website http://genomicscience.energy.gov.
biochar projects can be carbon negative
and a transparent and reliable method
for carbon accounting for biochar projects is
close to completion, after years of
hard work by
International Biochar Initiative already provides trusted 3rd party biochar certification.
It has been in the news….
but, can biochar REALLY save the Planet?
Realistically, biomass and biochar is a small
part of our total US energy picture
but it can still be part of a carbon negative solution.
We should use biochar
take advantage of its strengths, and get the
best possible value out of
carbon negative solutions.
Use biochar with high value crops
and get better drought tolerance, germination,
quality, and yield.
Extra value: Clean Water
2013 field test of Blueberries with
biochar showed improved sugar
(brix), plant health, and yield.
Biochar traps fertilizers, urea,
and micronutrients, in the
root zone of plants,
away from river systems,
resulting in healthier fish and
Use Biochar to adsorb Metals: Cu, Zn
Biochar in improved rain filters, is an
easy way to comply w/ water regulations.
Most rain gardens and improved
storm systems clear the water, but
don’t have a way to filter metals that
hurt fish, like Copper and Zinc.
Biochar sticks to the metals,
dramatically improving the rain filter.
Do something great with Manure (CAFOs)
Combined heat and biochar systems convert manure into
useful biochar, and use burning manure to fuel the process.
Biochar + Compost turns Rock into Soil.
Hope Mine Restoration biochar + turns mine tailings into healthy re-growth.
In the Northwest, native
plant communities are reestablished using a blend
of biochar + compost to
restore road cuts and other
Combined Heat and Biochar Systems
turn forest fire reduction slash
piles into heat for schools,
hospitals, and businesses.
Combining the value of Heat &
Biochar can make renewable
energy systems feasible for
Existing & Planned Biomass Thermal
Source: Oregon Dept of Forestry
Extra value: healthier soils and rural jobs.
Combined Heat and Biochar for Greenhouses
Doug Williams and Tom Jopsen and the Shasta Class gasifier at Cal Forest, N. California
What do you grow in a
greenhouse heated with
products? Baby trees!
Forest seedlings trials in compost plus biochar.
There’s always room for more biochar…
US Biochar Initiative
International Biochar Initiative
Biochar Mailing lists
PNW Biochar Working Group
(for NW Biochar Producers)
sciencedirect.com keyword biochar
Erin Rasmussen & Tom Miles
TR Miles Technical Consultants Inc. http://trmiles.com