Tag Archives: adam retort

Adam retort is a biochar kiln made by a Chris Adam. Its plans are protected but in my opinion not very well made. Same concept as a roman bath.

Picture of charcoal

Charcoal making with the Adam retort Biochar Kiln

Charcoal and biochar are interchangeable words down here at biochar project Kunghur NSW Australia. Yeah we know the difference but do we care ?

Picture of charcoal

Charcoal or soon to be Biochar

Biochar is charcoal made specifically to put in the soil.

Charcoal could be used for many things some one once said to me it was use for over 8000 things. I wonder if anyone has catalogued them all.


Biochar or Char probably have many more diverse things it can do however we at biocharproject.org really like to pursue it’s unique climate properties and its unique agricultural benefits and flow on effects.

The way charcoal absorbs and adsorbs in a rather greedily like fashion makes it perfect for cleaning up toxins in the environment.

The way charcoal holds onto anything it has devoured is very useful in high rainfall areas. Or even to stop chemical leaching down to the water table.

Charcoal has so many uses its unbelievable.

Anyway back to the story we have been working with an Adam retort biochar kiln actually the first one ever built in Australia. I have been documenting it and we have been learning how to use it.

Here is another short clip of last Thursdays trial and tribulations.

Opps no clip. If you want to see my private videos send a few bucks to cover postage and I will send you everything we do. Biocharproject.org Po Box 6146 Tweed Heads South NSW 2486.

Here is my recap

Some comments regarding what we were doing wrong were left on our website under last weeks update. We tried them and they worked.

It took us all day to dry the wood

We were able to shut the charcoal retort off for the very first time.

Our wood is fairly dry and awaiting this Thursday for the community to get together and finish the job we are looking forward to a big batch of charcoal this week.

I am happy to be getting this far along now however I am sad that it took me to verbalising my frustrations before the help came.

Looking forward

Charmaster Dolph Cooke



picture ontop of the fire box with the words biochar industries written in cement

Adam retort biochar kiln community firing at biochar project

Adam Retort community kiln firing 29th of Feb 2012 report.

Captured partly on video and temperatures were recorded so folks can see what was going on. I will try and be as neutral as possible in my critique of the days event. : )

An Introduction to the Adam retort.

The Adam retort community biochar kiln project idea was created from the wishes of the late Geoff Moxham (Australia’s Grand Daddy of Biochar). He once won a Grant to create such a project and you can view his grant here.

This is the second time this Adam retort biochar retort has been fired properly. See the first report here.

The Adam retort Biochar kiln is a technology better suited for the third world as it takes a lot of man hours to fill / Unload / maintain the fire / Build.

However it is a great tool to learn about retorts on.

Our goal at biochar project is to create biochar as friendly to the environment as we can get it. This includes using waste biomass instead of living trees and making sure it is atmosphere friendly in relation to emissions, and of course that we make sure the charcoal produced is destined for the earth and soils rather that as fuel.

Apparently the Adam retort biochar kiln we have is not created exactly to the plans that Adam released it has been modified somewhat by Paul Taylor a man who has edited a book on biochar who lives local to us. I have never seen the plans that Paul worked off in their entirety however I was shown glimpses of it during the construction period.

The kiln works by separating the wood to be charred from the wood that is burnt as fuel. The charbox sat on top of a maze like chamber who’s job is to distribute the heat evenly.
Sort of like having a pot of water sitting on top of a fire. However once the box of char starts releasing gas you can easily direct the gas into the fire to create a perpetual fire until the gas is all removed.

This is supposed to reduce emissions and lessen the amount of wood used as fuel.

Lets see how we went.

The day started at 9 am we erected a deflection device above the chimney.

The fire was lit and the paper work was readied.

We checked the temperatures at intervals to get an idea of what is going on.

We did not weigh the amount of wood inside the box nor did we weigh the amount of wood we burnt as fuel. Much to Uncle bucks Horror :(

Here are the Times and Temps from the Community Adam retort firing.

Looking inside the Adam retort firebox

Fire Box

Time /Temp

9.42 am 488
10.00 am 648
10.20 am 597
11.00 am 704
11.20 am 714
11.40 am 717
12.00 pm 709
12.20 pm 783
12.40 pm 748
1.00 pm 644
1.20 pm 773

picture ontop of the fire box with the words biochar industries written in cement

On top of the fire box

1.40 pm 822
2.00 pm 665
2.20 pm 637
3.00 pm 708
3.50 pm 681
4.49 pm 638.5
5.40 pm 656
9.00 pm 649
10.30 pm 828
2.00 am 736


Top of Box Time/ Temp .c

The face of biochar


9.42 am 76
10.00 am 75
10.20 am 73

showing the steel lid on the adam retort

Adam retort lid

11.00 am 95
11.20 am 98
11.40 am 127
12.00 pm 155
12.20 pm 166
12.40 pm 180
1.00 pm 187
1.20 pm 188
1.40 pm 207
2.00 pm 232
2.20 pm 231
3.00 pm 225
3.50 pm 190
4.49 pm 222
5.40 pm 220
9.00 pm 212
10.30 pm 204
2.00 am 200

LID Time / Temp .c

9.42 am 72
10.00 am 58
10.20 am 52
11.00 am 47
11.20 am 51

11.40 am 57
12.00 pm 62

the inspection hole of the community adam retort

Inspection hole looks inside the retort

12.20 pm 59

a pic of a brick chimney at biocharproject in kunghur

The 1st Chimney

12.40 pm 58
1.00 pm 62
1.20 pm 62
1.40 pm 65
2.00 pm 67
2.20 pm 70
3.00 pm 74
3.50 pm 64.5
4.49 pm 81.6
5.40 pm 65
9.00 pm 63
10.30 pm 74.9
2.00 am 84.7

1st Chimney
Time / Temp.c

9.42 am 34
10.00 am 34
10.20 am 33
11.00 am 36
11.20 am 38
11.40 am 42
12.00 pm 45
12.20 pm 39
12.40 pm 40
1.00 pm 45

a flue on the adam retort vent box

second chimney

1.20 pm 45
1.40 pm 44
2.00 pm 45
2.20 pm 51
3.00 pm 50
3.50 pm 49
4.49 pm 61.3
5.40 pm 43
9.00 pm 43.9

10.30 pm 53.2

2.00 am 56.9

Inside the box

Time Temp
9.42 am 45
10.00 am 48

Inside the box afterwards

10.20 am 50
11.00 am 65
11.20 am 70
11.40 am 87
12.00 pm 78
12.20 pm 101
12.40 pm 101
1.00 pm 110
1.20 pm 110
1.40 pm 111
2.00 pm 118
2.20 pm 122
3.00 pm 151
3.50 pm 151
4.49 pm 171
5.40 pm 169
7.00 pm 165
8.00 pm 212
9.00 pm 220
10.30 pm 230
2.00 am 239
4.00 am 253

2nd Chimney Time / Temp .c

9.42 am 35
10.00 am 37
10.20 am 36
11.00 am 37

the end wall on the retort

Stone Wall

11.20 am 39
11.40 am 41
12.00 pm 55
12.20 pm 53
12.40 pm 57
1.00 pm 61
1.20 pm 56
1.40 pm 56
2.00 pm 60
2.20 pm 68
3.00 pm 66.1
3.50 pm 61
4.49 pm 3.3
5.40 pm 61
9.00 pm 63.3
10.30 pm 75.3
2.00 am 66.5


Time  / Temp .c

9.42 am 28
10.00 am 30
10.20 am 29
11.00 am 31
11.20 am 33
11.40 am 36
12.00 pm 36
12.20 pm 30
12.40 pm 36
1.00 pm 36
1.20 pm 35
1.40 pm 37
2.00 pm 40
2.20 pm 42.7
3.00 pm 42
3.50 pm 35
4.49 pm 49.8
5.40 pm 52
9.00 pm 39.2
10.30 pm 53.3
2.00 am 49.7

Sorry for the crazy formatting you get that :)


It took over 19 hours to reach the hottest temp 253c which is far to cold for good biochar and far to long to be manning a kiln for any country.

The kiln did not enter exothermic condition and consumed a lot of heating wood.
The kiln did not cool down overnight as suggested and took 4 days until we finally put it out with water.

In my honest opinion I feel that this kiln in its current state is not suited to making biochar.

On the upside it was a great learning exercise and it brings the community together for like minded fun. Feel free to ask questions.

Charmaster Dolph Cooke

P.s A few good comment recieved have shown us some problem area with our version of the kiln Mainly sealing the retort from sucking air
we will try again on Thursday (Community Kiln Day) keeping this advice in mind. Thankyou Charfolks : )

Happy days are here again

Adam Retort Biochar Kiln Shed Just in time for summer.

Adam retort biochar kiln used to sit out in the weather and await its fate. Well it has been nine month’s since we started this project and at long last it is now complete.

Adam retort Biochar kiln

Happy to get started Again

I think the main reason why nothing happened for a long time is the shed itself had chosen the builder it wanted to build the roof so it new it would get quality workmanship.

Wow roof going on YEAHHH

So over the 9 months we have had many starts on it with many builders who said they knew what to do when they really did not. But this time over the weekend we saw the project completed in enough time for the rainy season.

Big thanks goes to Paul, Jim and Wombat for sticking to the job and making it such a handsome shed. I just need to fasten a pulley above the kiln door and a winch at the back of the shed to lift the moster 180kg kiln Lid. Then this project is complete.

Adam retort Biochar kiln

More action looking good

Adam retort biochar kiln

Face Book page

once wet could take a further 4 hours of burn time to dry out again so this has hampered our use of the kiln. We plan to do a big run this week and video the choice parts and record the data so Uncle Buck can enjoy the event from his arm chair.

I am really elated and full of happy energy to see this finished. I will create a vegie patch behind the kiln so that the water that runs off the new roof can feed my veggies for me.

Wow allo the panels all on

As usual the hill of abundance has provided everything we need for free and I wish to use this moment to thank the universe for such a great couple of days. Thank you Universe.

I have talked with Paul at length and he would like to help me build the sustainable biochar education centre hall when it is time for that project to start. So look out as we create a truly sustainable building for biochar education and advancement.

Happy days are here again

Big rustic and bold will be the order of the day.

Charmaster Dolph Cooke

biochar kiln adam retort holly cow pat

biochar kiln report at biochar industries. Kunghur NSW

Biochar kiln report is a continuation from this story. So if your new to this website read it first to give you some background.

Once upon a time their was a charmaster who liked to experiment with fire. He found himself settled in an idyllic situation where he could work with fire and create biochar. One day however things went pear shaped.

yesterday we ignited the Adam retort biochar kiln and took some temperature samples below is a table showing how it was going.

TimePlugChimney 2Chimney 1Lidfirebox

Well the trouble began when the First shift went for dinner. The second shift started getting false readings from the IR temp scanner and by the time the first shift came back the scanner was no longer being coherent.

Aha it was a flat battery oh well we will seal up the

Adam Retort biochar kiln

and try again tomorrow no biggie. So we set about putting out the fire and sealing the firebox then we sealed each chimney and went of to bed.

biochar kiln adam retort holly cow pat

biochar kiln adam retort look at the lid holly cow pat

The next morning I awoke in horror to the sound of “Holy Cow Pats” look at the kiln lid it is WRONG. I ran down to see what was going on and nearly fell over.

The kiln had ignited all by itself sometime during the night and the intense heat had bent the lid open so it could continue to operate as a big pit fire. Holy cow pats batman.

So the team was assembled and we went to work on battening down the hatches and trying to work out what had went wrong.

biochar kiln battening down the hatches

biochar kiln battening down the hatches

Check out these pictures of the Adams retort biochar kiln blowing its lid fellow scientists and send me your thoughts or comment on this post and together we can work out a fix.

Bending the lid

Bending the lid

I will continue this report on the adam retort biochar kiln in the next post as I like to keep them short and sweet so I don’t loose your attention.

Charmaster Dolph Cooke



Biochar production started today at Kunghur

Biochar production as promised 1st August 2011. Adam retort.

Biochar production started today at Kunghur

Biochar production started today at Kunghur

Biochar production

started today on schedule (just like I told everyone). If you have not guessed as yet here is a quick rundown.

1. We are removing the dead fallen trees and the left behind stumps from the 1960’s sawmilling hey days

2. We are removing weeds and the thinnings from plantation forests.

3. We are turning the lot into biochar through biochar production.

4. We are creating an education centre

5. We are creating a Sustainable Biochar Industry Pilot.

6. We are doing  all sorts of scientific trials and plots

7. We are creating sustainable living systems.

Here are the photos to give you a feel for what we are doing. Lots of Photos so enjoy. Biochar production now a reality in Kunghur.

Started to do some results until the batteries went flat in the IR scanner so we called it a night. Results will be added next post.

Charmaster Dolph Cooke

Koby the angel

Adam Retort Biochar update report. Kunghur

Hey Folks, Check this out : ) The biochar project Adam retort 1st Australian biochar kiln ever made has finally been completed.
Boy this lid was extremely well made and heavy.

Adam retort biochar kiln lid by Peter Neilson for biochar industries

Adam retort biochar kiln lid by Peter Neilson for biochar industries

A very big thank you to Organic Farmer Peter Neilson of Federal for creating a masterpiece to crown our project with.

Biochar adam retort builder Peter Neilson for biochar industries Kunghur

Biochar adam retort Lid builder Peter Neilson for biochar industries Kunghur

What a sensational day nature put on her best dress and gave us a beautiful winter-sun day to help us get this project finished.

koby sally peter paul and daniel at biochar industries

koby sally peter paul and daniel at biochar industries

Some really funny jokes were told today while everyone made fun of everyone else. We started at 10am and finished at 4pm with no lunch.

The lid for the adam retort biochar kiln arives via Jeep

The lid for the adam retort biochar kiln arives via Jeep

I had made an amazing connection with Koby and started a beautiful friendship in fact this was the highlight of my day.

Koby the angel

Koby the angel

So what a great day I had seeing my oldest project come to completion and sharing my veggies with someone who appreciates nature as much as I do.

peter helping out big time on the adam retort biochar project

peter helping out big time on the adam retort biochar project

Can’t wait to fire her up (I mean the Adam retort :P) but I guess that will be another post. Peter, Koby and I graffiti-ed the new cement we just made like kids in a lolly shop we couldn’t wait to sign our names.

koby sally peter paul and daniel at biochar industries

koby sally peter paul and daniel at biochar industries

Paul was teaching us all about the Adam retort and peter was really taking it all in.

paul teaching peter about adam retort biochar project

paul teaching peter about adam retort biochar project

Daniel showed me how to make concrete and cement correctly and peter had fabulous ideas that we ended up going with talk about a brainy fella.

The dogs wombat and sally were having fun playing with each other and we all worked very well together.

charmaster dolph hamming it up biochar

charmaster dolph hamming it up biochar

Koby was on assignment creating a documentary about biochar and had an idea she would video me. All was going great until I tried to recount my dream of a biochar Industry and the link I share with Geoff Moxam. I got all emotional. Every time I think about helping the earth and mankind I get so passionate I loose my composure. I am glad only Koby saw me cry I’m sure the boys would of hassled the heck out of me.

Thank You wonderful team and thank you Universe you are providing me with everything I have ever wanted in such a magical way.

Charmaster Dolph (I am so really happy)Cooke
Adam Retort Biochar Kiln Completed May 2011.

Australia's First Adam Retort biochar Kiln Kunghur NSW

Australia’s first Adam retort Biochar Kiln

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introducing Australia’s first Adam retort Biochar Kiln….it is nearly complete

Australia's First Adam Retort biochar Kiln Kunghur NSW

What are we going to call her ?

after today’s huge effort by the Biochar Industries team Kunghur NSW.
Update from our previous post Adam Retort . We did a colossal day on the tools today resulting in a big boost for our morale.

adam retort building up the firebox at biochar industries Kunghur

building up the firebox

To make the occasion even more special Biochar Expert Dr Paul Taylor PhD was on hand to break this amazing news.

adam retort Biochar Kiln finishing the block work at biochar industries australia

Finishing the Block work

“This is the first Adam Retort in Australia and it will be the first commercial Adam retort in the western world” Said Dr Paul Taylor PhD Author and Editor of the Book The Biochar Revolution. This statement had Charmaster Dolph Cooke falling off his chair.

Adam retort Biochar Kiln setting the chimney Kunghur Australia

Chimney starts to ascend

“I knew I was working hard to get the Biochar Industries and education centre up and running but I never realised I was creating history at the same time”

adam retort biochar kiln building the roof of the fire box at Biochar Industrieskunghur NSW

Firebox roof goes on next

Dr Paul Taylor Phd is the sole licensee for the Adam retort Biochar kilns in Australia. He used his research skills to improve on the award winning design and has spent six month’s on this project. The result is a bigger, leaner and stronger model that will outlast the hardiest Charmaster : )

Adam Retort Biochar Kiln with stainless steel bottom plate waiting to go in

Ohh Stainless Steel bottom sheet : )

Here are a few pictures of today’s efforts and I would like to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank those quiet achievers on my team who have helped me get further than I had imagined and who will be by my side for a long time to come. I thank you.

adam retort inside the box biochar industries kunghur Nsw Australia

Inside the Box

Some facts about the Adam Retort Biochar Kiln :
Capacity 1tonne to 1.5 tonne Biomass
Output 300kgs – 500kgs of Biochar
Cycle approximately 8 hours
Efficiency 50kgs of wood can pyrolyse 1.5 tonne through self heating mechanisms. 30:1 ratio
Today’s Team
Dr Paul Taylor, Steve Graham (Kiln Builder), Chris (Photographer) Charmaster Dolph Cooke. Special thanks to Murwillumbah Landscape Supplies.

Charmaster Dolph Cooke working on Adam retort biochar kiln at Kunghur

WTF is Charmaster Dolph Cooke doing ?

Charmaster Dolph Cooke

P.s Thanks for putting up with me : )

a picture of discarded wood at biochar industries kunghur education centre for biochar

New moon effects on Biochar Industries look like this… :)

Here is one for the closet psychoanalyst in you. We down here in the forest are starting to become one with nature. Example we like to plant our seeds for our veggies and fruit gardens by the moon calendar. We also like to think we are more than just this meat suit we wear each day.

We also like to make new moon intentions and watch as they become fulfilled at the next full moon. Normally quiet simple concepts however one of our team members is a full blown astrologist with a deep understanding of spiritual concepts and she was quite amazed with my last new moon intention.

I usually do a whole bunch of intentions but this last Sunday I only wrote one out.

“I intend to complete my projects this month” while she was studying her astrology guides she made the discovery that even thou I have no idea about astrology my Intention fitted perfectly with how the current new moon was supposed to be.

A mercury retrograde was happening which is not a good time for new projects and I felt it somehow and magically went with the flow.

So here is how it looks like when the new moon effects Biochar Industries.

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Biochar Industries Project – Adam Retort Biochar Kiln

Hello Biocharians or should I say fellow inhabitants of this wonderful planet ? Yes it is true Biochar Industries is now taking on more projects so bookmark this website and keep looking for updates. www.biocharproject.org or www.biocharindustries.com here is a progress report on project Adam retort.

Paul looking at foundations for the Adam retort that are half done

Paul looking at foundations for the Adam retort that are half done down at BiocharIndustries Kunghur education centre

This project started out as a Bush mechanics exemplar project from one of Biochar Industries team members but has quickly become a many hands make light work type of a project.

Foundations cemented but to our horor where not good enough

Foundations cemented but to our horor where not good enough

For more information on the fantastic learning system we have here at Biochar Industries please look at this web site http://www.kalgrove.com/adultlearning/ also if you have a project or a scientific trial you would like to get started please email me at dolph@biocharproject.org and we will see what we can do.

Enjoy the photos and the captions of Biochar Industries Project – Adam Retort Biochar Kiln.

Looking from North to south

Looking from North to south

Stay Tuned more photos to come

Charmaster Dolph

The adam retort biochar making kiln was selected for its abillity to make charcoal out of all kinds of wood sizes. Here at Biochar Industries we are going to put it through its paces and write a full report so other biocharians can learn critical information to help them select the right technology for thier needs. We are also making the charcoal available for purchase.

For more information about our Biochar for sale please send emails with subject to Biochar Industries re Biochar for sale. to me dolph@biocharproject.org

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Working hard to make a living!!!!

I think Jimmy Barnes said it best when he said “Working Hard to make a living building shelter from the rain a fathers son left to carry on blue denim in his veins” as part of the song working class man.

rand0269.jpg Making Shelters from the rain

allow me to put a new spin on it. Working hard to make my 1st kiln, building blocks are a pain, a visionary with a dream working alone with biochar in his veins Oh oh oh oh hes a planet guardian man.

The adam retort is an award winning design, to bring clean charcoal to a village scale for our brothers and sisters who still only cook with wood. One of its exciting features is it can be built from reused material, this feature alone is a great one for the planet yet the features keep stacking up from this brilliant design. Let us remember our kin whom get sick and die from the gases of burning wood inside thier homes, just to make the family meals. If we can make charcoal cleanly and cheaply available for villages then we have helped them not get sick.

Paul Taylor PhD below showing Biochar at World Enviroment Day 2010


So how did we get an adam retort? Paul Taylor PhD of Biochar Solutions and the creator of www.biocharrevolution.com Has commisioned BiocharIndustries First official project for the Biochar Education Centre in Kunghur Northern NSW.

So Here I am working hard to make my first kiln : )

Finding materials


Unloading Materials


Stay tuned for the next installment of Biochar Industries Adam Retort Project.

Charmaster Dolph

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