Biochar
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SPECIAL TALK
No. Amer. Biochar Conference
August 12, 2009
Nathaniel Mulcahy
Worldstove in Haiti
Biochar Listserv
an international discussion

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www.carbon-negative.us
Biochar Burners
can — bucket — barrel — tank — masonry — mound — mobile — industrial
Making Biochar
simple methods, low-cost equipment

Ancient Art Media
35,000-year-old charcoal sketch
Chauvet Pont d'Arc, southern France
Making char is easy, needs no equipment, and is relatively safe.

As kid chemist, with test tube and gas burner, I "coked" wood splints into gas, char and tar. My test tube was ruined by residues of thick, sticky, black tar.

Charcoaling is an ancient craft and traditional industry. Humans worldwide made char for millennia in nearly every culture, sometimes by a thriving rural industry, and used it for wide assortment of purposes.

In the eastern United States, most forests were cut and burned in earth-covered heaps or stone kilns to make char and potash. Char had many uses as fuel for cookstoves, blacksmith forges, foundries, and industrial smelters, so markets for char were huge and steady. Any man with hand tools and a wagon could cut up trees, bury them under dirt to smolder several days, and haul the char to town for cash or trade.

In the 1800s, most of eastern U.S. forests were cut to burn into char and potash. Late in the late 1800s, coal, then oil, became cheap substitutes, and local char industries vanished by 1900. Today, char still has many uses, mostly filtration and purification. At home, it’s best known as cooking fuel: barbeque briquettes.

With little or no equipment, you can make charcoal in your backyard or in a woodstove. With little education and no tools, anyone can learn to make reliable, beautiful biochar.

Blue Biochar
irridescent art from the retort
Dale Hendricks, Pennsylvania
Speaking of beauty, charcoal is a simple, traditional art media. Many insist bamboo makes the finest art char. Indeed, char has many varied, practical uses. My Buddhist friends sprinkle char around their temples to soak up bad spirits. Asian farmers feed char to cows for stronger digestion and reduced methane.

At another extreme, charcoal dust was an ingredient in early gunpowder. American farmers till horticultural charcoal into soil to soak up toxic chemicals after accidents and overdoses. Activated charcoal water filters are common in American households.

For centuries, char was easily made in a simple pit, pile, or masonry kiln. Metal burners with variable air vents, chimneys, retorts, and gas taps are modern innovations. Recently, scientists developed high temperature, high pressure pyrolysis systems that can render urban waste into oil, gas and char.

But only in the last decade has the idea to put char in soil gotten any attention. Even among horticulturists, few know roses and orchids love to have charcoal around their roots-or why.

Today, we must re-invent this technology on a larger, landscape scale as local industries producing enough biochar to spread on gardens, farmlands, fields, even forests. We also must create biochar-burners that minimize air pollution, and biomass harvest methods that avoid turning the land into bioenergy plantations. This requires thousands of tons of biochar, but as we begin the 21st industry, making a few hundred pounds will teach us the basics, and yield enough for small test plots.

We also must learn to capture burner exhausts to re-process into biofuel and chemicals. We need to study this process, and learn to control and manipulate it for various applications. Especially, we need to explore household, garden and farm-scale methods and uses.

BIOCHAR:

the video
the story
the source
the miracle
the promise

simpler than the simplest
no equipment
Jerry , Hawaii
Youtube video

simplest of the simple
Barrel+Bucket Retort
Folke Gunther, Sweden
1-Bucket Burner
Lonnie Avery , New York

yes-we-can stoves
Micro-aerodynamics
Jock Gill, Peacham VT

100/50 gallon barrels
Making Biochar
Youtube video

 Rocketstove
  + 5g Retort
 Jim Welch, Troy, NY
world class
Lucia Stove
Nathaniel Mulcahy, Italy
Gasifier
Experimenter Kit
(GEK)
Jim Mason
All Power Labs , California
the pyrolysis dragon
Rocketstove + Retort
Jim Welch, Troy, NY

Rocketstove
+ 30g Retort
David Yarrow
Saratoga Apple
Schuylerville, NY

portable teaching tool
2-Barrel Retort
David Yarrow, Albany, NY

Youtube video
$365 backyard kiln
Barrel in Kiln
Ron, Pacific Northwest


Youtube video
cutting edge industrial retrofit
Woodchip Furnace

Alex English, Kingston, Ontario
Youtube video
Adam Retort
New England Biochar
Youtube video
Frank Jeffers
Athens, GA
Water-cooled Condenser
Mobile Pyrolyzer
Biochar Engineering
Youtube video
Trash Dumpster Retort
Skip Williams
Lexington, VA
clay cookstove
Terra Preta Pot
Biopact, Belgium
household-scale
Tabletop Cookstove
Robert Flanagan, China
Youtube video

portable
Camp
Cookstove
www.woodgas.org

2-burner
Smokeburner Cookstove
Dr. Bhaskar Reddy, India

Anila Stove
Seattle Biochar
Seattle, Washington

Bamboo Vinegar
& Biochar
SAFFE
China

Portable Kiln
UNFAO
Biostove Project
Seattle Biochar
South American traditional
Brazilian Brick Kiln
Richard Haard
farm scale
Cordwood Mound
Larry Williams
Washington
traditional African
Earthen Mound
Chris Adam, Kenya


TERRA: The Earth Renewal & Restoration Alliance — David Yarrow — dyarrow5@gmail.com — updated 11/24/2010
www.carbon-negative.us — www.ancientforests.us — www.nutrient-dense.info — www.OnondagaVesica.info — www.dyarrow.org