≡ Menu

What is Biochar?

I have found this treasure whilst making my rounds on the site. So I have written it in as part of my blog so many more people can see this gem.

What is Bio Char ?

As far as I understand it it is the separation of the carbon from the rest of the wood by using an oxygen-less environment to cook the other parts out with.

Of course your left with charcoal with varying degrees of success depending on the system you use.

This charcoal has many positive properties and the one I work with is its ability to rejuvenate the planet.

Char char biochar

Biochar has been described as “the single most important initiative for humanity’s environmental future … it allows us to address food security, the fuel crisis, and the climate problem, all in an immensely practical manner.” Prof. Tim Flannery, Australian of the Year 2007

 

What is Biochar?

Biochar is charcoal produced by heating organic material at a high temperature in limited oxygen. It is a stable, aromatic product, very rich in carbon, used to lock carbon into the soil.

What are the benefits of Biochar?

Digging Biochar into the earth has been shown to improve water quality, increase soil fertility and raise agricultural productivity. It can

  • increase the water holding capacity of the soil
  • increase crop production
  • increase soil carbon levels
  • increase soil pH
  • decrease Aluminium toxicity
  • change the microbiology of the soil
  • decrease soil emissions of the greenhouse gases CO2, N2O and CH4
  • improve soil conditions for earthworm populations
  • improve fertiliser use efficiency

The effects of biochar will vary with soil type and the particular biochar used. Studies thus far have shown that the greatest positive effects of biochar applications have been in highly degraded, acidic or nutrient-depleted soils.

How is Biochar made?

Biochar can be produced from any organic material such as household green waste, paper waste or agricultural waste. It is made in a specially constructed incinerator that heats the organic material under pressure at temperatures above 430 °C The process, called pyrolysis, efficiently decomposes the bio matter, producing the biochar solid, a small amount of bio-oil and gases that can be use to create electricity. The production of Biochar is thus a carbon negative process overall.

How does Biochar help with cllimate change?

The burning of trees and agricultural waste contributes a large amount of the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere and is a significant factor in global warming. The production and use of biochar breaks into the CO2 cycle, releasing oxygen and drawing carbon from the atmosphere to hold it in the soil.

Stop Press Thanks Erich J. Knight

Not talked about in the list above are the climate and whole ecological implications of new , higher value, applications of chars.

First,
the insitu remediation of a vast variety of toxic agents in soils and sediments.
Biochar Sorption of Contaminants; http://www.biorenew.iastate.edu/events/biochar2010/conference-agenda/agenda-overview/breakout-session-5/agriculture-forestry-soil-science-and-environment.html

Dr. Lima’s work;
Specialized Characterization Methods for Biochar
http://www.biorenew.iastate.edu/events/biochar2010/conference-agenda/agenda-overview/breakout-session-4/production-and-characterization.html
And at USDA; The Ultimate Trash To Treasure: *ARS Research Turns Poultry Waste into Toxin-grabbing Char
http://www.ars.usda.gov/IS/AR/archive/jul05/char0705.htm

Second,
the uses as a feed ration for livestock to reduce GHG emissions and increase disease resistance.

Third,
Recent work by C. Steiner showing a 52% reduction of NH3 loss when char is used as a composting accelerator. This will have profound value added consequences for the commercial composting industry by reduction of their GHG emissions and the sale of compost as a nitrogen fertilizer.

LCA:
Biochar allows the soil food web to build much more recalcitrant organic carbon, ( living biomass & Glomalins) in addition to the carbon in the biochar.

Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration (= to 1 Ton CO2e) + Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels = to 1MWh exported electricity, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle.

Thank you Erich 

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Erich J. Knight August 30, 2010, 7:56 am

    Not talked about in the list above are the climate and whole ecological implications of new , higher value, applications of chars.

    First,
    the insitu remediation of a vast variety of toxic agents in soils and sediments.
    Biochar Sorption of Contaminants;

    Dr. Lima’s work;
    Specialized Characterization Methods for Biochar

    And at USDA; The Ultimate Trash To Treasure: *ARS Research Turns Poultry Waste into Toxin-grabbing Char
    http://www.ars.usda.gov/IS/AR/archive/jul05/char0705.htm

    Second,
    the uses as a feed ration for livestock to reduce GHG emissions and increase disease resistance.

    Third,
    Recent work by C. Steiner showing a 52% reduction of NH3 loss when char is used as a composting accelerator. This will have profound value added consequences for the commercial composting industry by reduction of their GHG emissions and the sale of compost as a nitrogen fertilizer.

    LCA:
    Biochar allows the soil food web to build much more recalcitrant organic carbon, ( living biomass & Glomalins) in addition to the carbon in the biochar.

    Every 1 ton of Biomass yields 1/3 ton Charcoal for soil Sequestration (= to 1 Ton CO2e) + Bio-Gas & Bio-oil fuels = to 1MWh exported electricity, so is a totally virtuous, carbon negative energy cycle.

  • Biochar Revolution January 27, 2011, 10:21 pm

    I heard about biochar a few months ago from a friend of mine. I never thought that something as simple as charcoal could do so much for the soil and the environment.

    I was amazed after reading “The Biochar Revolution” from http://biochar-books.com/The_Biochar_Revolution.

    Check it out. It was a great help in opening my mind to issues that affect us all.

Leave a Comment

Question * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.