What is Biochar? How Can You Make Money with Biochar?


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Basic information about biochar describing the benefits of biochar and ways to make money with biochar

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What is Biochar? How Can You Make Money with Biochar?

  1. 1. WHAT IS BIOCHAR?• What is it good for?• How can you make money with it? Kelpie Wilson Wilson Biochar Associates kelpiew@gmail.com
  2. 2. Biochar is baked biomass that you can add to soil*
  3. 3. Biochar Definition and Properties • Biochar is biomass that is thermally altered in the absence of oxygen, ie, it is baked, not burned, and flammable gasses are released (hydrogen, CO) • Heat transforms plant carbon (found in cellulose and lignin) into fused aromatic carbon rings that are very stable • Biochars made from different feedstocks at different temperatures can have very different physical and chemical properties
  4. 4. Biomass to BiocharCarbon Atoms (graphene) Molecular scale Cellulose Lignin Cellular scale
  5. 5. Biochar Benefits - Economic and Social• Climate & pollution• Energy• Soil Improvement• Waste ManagementBiochar Markets
  6. 6. •Biochar and Pollution
  7. 7. Biochar retains fertilizer, reducing nutrientpollution
  8. 8. Reclaiming mine tailings Hope Mountain Mine near Aspen, Colorado. 100-year old mine tailings contaminated with heavy metals re-vegetated with biochar in one year.
  9. 9. •Biochar and Climate
  10. 10. Climate Benefits Depend on BiocharStability
  11. 11. Carbon Cycle and Biochar
  12. 12. Biochar, the Carbon Cycle and ClimateChange "If you could continually turn a lot of organic material into biochar, you could, over time, reverse the history of the last two hundred years… We can run the movie backward. We can un-mine some of the coal, un-drill some of the oil.” ~ Bill McKibben, author, climate activist and founder of 350.org
  13. 13. •Biochar and Energy
  14. 14. Energy-medium scalePhoenix Bioenergy, Merced, California • 500 kW electricity • 1 ton of biochar per day
  15. 15. Energy-small scalebiochar-making cook stoves for developing countries
  16. 16. •Biochar and Soil
  17. 17. Soil Benefits - Biochar can replace depleted SoilOrganic Carbon (SOC) Since the industrial revolution, the conversion of natural ecosystems to agricultural use has resulted in the depletion of SOC levels, releasing 50 to 100 GT of carbon from soil into the atmosphere.
  18. 18. Biochar Benefits to Soils • increase soil carbon levels • improve fertilizer use efficiency • decrease toxicity of aluminum and other metals • increase water holding capacity of the soil • improve soil conditions for micro and macro soil life forms (bacteria, fungi, earthworms) • moderate (usually increase) soil pH • decrease tensile strength and bulk density of soil (easier tillage)
  19. 19. Iowa – natural biochar • Iowa soils – some of the most fertile in the world • Why? Natural biochar from prairie fires • Root zone excludes oxygen, producing char, not ash
  20. 20. Biochar retains soil moisture Iowa corn did better this drought year because the soils are high in natural biochar. Test plots with added biochar at Iowa State showed about 15% better water retention.
  21. 21. Terra Preta – human-created soils in theAmazon are 500-6,000 years old
  22. 22. Habitat for soil organisms“permanent compost” A. Fungal hyphae B. Bacteria C. 100-year old char from forest fire D. 350-year old char from forest fire
  23. 23. Refuge for Roots
  24. 24. Tropical soils show the most dramatic results
  25. 25. Worms Love Biochar Biochar works best when composted with other organic matter before adding to garden soil. This allows life to colonize the biochar.
  26. 26. Plants trials with biochar Beans, Taro, Pine Seedlings – no biochar on Left, biochar on Right
  27. 27. Biochar as a Peat Substitute Biochar on left; Peat on right
  28. 28. •Biochar and Waste
  29. 29. Waste that can be turned into biochar • Paper and cardboard • Construction waste • Urban greenwaste (tree trimmings, grass, etc.) • Fuel-load reduction wood (burn piles) • Manure • Human waste
  30. 30. Pile and Burn Cost: $2,000/acre Return: waste treatment – fuel load reduction Byproducts: smoke, ash, sterilized soil
  31. 31. Alternative to Pile and Burn:Carbon Cultures Mobile Biochar Kiln
  32. 32. Biochar Technology Showcase EventsNovember 6-9, 2012 in Kerby, OR • Mobile Biochar Technology Comes to the Southern Oregon Woods • Waste-to-wealth technology transforms burn piles from cost center to profit center – public invited to demonstrations and lectures offered multiple times during November 6-9 • Hosted by: Carbon Cultures, the Illinois Valley Forest Practices Committee, the Forestry Action Committee, and Illinois Valley Business Entrepreneurial Center • More information at: www.carboncultures.com/carbon-cultures- showcase-event/ • Biochar Technology Showcase Event planning, publicity, outreach and logistics by Wilson Biochar Associates
  33. 33. •Biochar Markets
  34. 34. Emerging Biochar Markets – Wholesale: • Soil remediation and water cleanup – mine tailings, storm water run-off from industrial sites, bio-swales • Re-vegetation of stream banks and eroded, difficult sites like forest landings and old roads; tree planting • Nursery and potting media – tree seedlings, bedding plants • Commercial farming and horticulture, including hydroponics and use in livestock barns for odor control • Commercial composting – accelerates composting process, controls odor • Green roofs • Urban tree care
  35. 35. Emerging Biochar Markets – Retail: • Home gardening amendments and fertilizer blends – branded products sold at garden centers • Artisanal biochar and compost blends sold at local farmer’s markets • Bedding and container plants in biochar soil blends sold at garden centers and nurseries • Biochar-compost blends sold by the yard or pickup load direct from composting facilities • Biochar sold for odor control in horse stalls, chicken coops, piggeries, etc
  36. 36. Biochar products for sale
  37. 37. Popular biochar blends • Biochar composted with animal manure • Biochar inoculated with compost tea • Biochar composted with food waste and bokashi (anaerobic lactobacillus fermentation) • Other additives include minerals, NPK, fungi, worm castings, fish emulsion, urea, etc.
  38. 38. How to make money with biochar – some ideas: • Sell biochar to wholesale markets • Produce blended biochar products and sell to retail markets • Contracts (private, public) to produce biochar for land remediation, re-vegetation and erosion control • Forestry and landscape contractors convert yard waste and logging waste to biochar for large and small landowners • Farmers and gardeners can save money by producing soil amendments for use on the farm
  39. 39. Wilson Biochar AssociatesWilson Biochar Associates specializes in biochar technology and marketdevelopment. We provide strategic advice and services to businesses andorganizations: • Technology Assessment, Research, Analysis and Documentation – reports, white papers, collaborative studies, standards and protocols, technology documentation, product manuals, instructional materials • Communications – press releases, news articles, feature articles, web content, presentations • Strategic Planning – campaigns and programs, organizational development, proposals • Social Networking and Community Development – build support for campaigns, products, projects and ideas in online and local communities Kelpie Wilson Wilson Biochar Associates Home office: 541-592-3083 Mobile: 541-218-9890 kelpiew@gmail.com www.wilsonbiochar.com