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Producing BioChar efficiently without the mess or effort  RSS feed

 
Chris Fraughton
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Hello,

I'm new here. I did a little research on the topic and saw a lot of conversations about BioChar, yet didn't see anything referring to people's preference on how they like to make it, or any preferences. I have been tinkering with "High Tech" methods. I'm an engineer that loves projects . So I want to get a few opinions on a device I am building. Currently, I'm building a microwave heated BioChar kiln. Although, I don't have a lot of experience making BioChar, I wanted to know a few things about people's experiences:

1. How much BioChar do you typically make at one time? In your opinion what is the perfect amount? Any other comments on capacity?
2. What is your favorite feed stock? or typical feedstock?
3. Would you like to have the option to use the BioOil (liquid fuel) or SynGas produced from the pyrolysis process? (maybe to produce heat, run an engine, etc)
4. Do you test your Char for quality?
5. Do you have a large feedstock of organic materials? If so, would you like to produce and sell Biochar?

Any help or information on your experiments would be helpful. As the project develops more I will post pictures and "How To". All my materials are "In Transit" and I'm getting excited.
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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1)  I normally make 10-15 gals or so at a time.  The perfect amount would be approx 1 ton, but I would settle for 500lbs
2)  I get pine board cutoffs from a local truss company.  They are free to anyone that wants to stop and load them, and are often available.
3)  I can't think of any reason why I wouldn't, especially if I could store it for use in a generator.
4)  No
5)  I would love to do that, but I don't have a steady enough supply of feedstock.

When I hear you say "high tech" methods, I immediately think "expensive".  While I think there is a market for biochar, I'm not sure how large a market there is for a machine that makes biochar, unless you come up with a way to make it cheap and efficient.  I personally can't see using electricity to make biochar, when I can make it by digging a hole in the ground, filling it with wood, and lighting it.  I think there are two kinds of people making biochar.  Companies with huge industrial machines that make it and ship it on semi's all over the place, thereby going against all the reasons I want to make or use biochar, and people like me that make it themselves for use themselves, and probably aren't willing to spend a lot of money on it.  The people that I know that are interested in making biochar are tinkerers that build their own kiln, mainly from found materials, and aren't really interested in high-tech methods of creating it.
 
Mike Jay
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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1)  I make 2 gallons a day in a stock pot in my wood stove during the fall and spring when I don't need full loads in the wood stove
2)  Typical feed stock is cut up pallet wood chunks (heat treated of course)
3)  Since I'm doing it in the wood stove I'm already using the syngas to heat my house
4)  Wouldn't know how to test it.  Unless charred is good and brown is bad and then yes, I do a routine visual inspection
5)  I have plenty for my needs, probably plenty for Todd's needs as well.  Demolishing the pallets is more work than the char is worth (I assume) so I doubt I'll be going into the char business anytime soon.

Good luck with the machine and don't nuke yourself in the process
 
Chris Fraughton
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Thanks for feedback!

I'm looking at a few options for my device. A small home grow set up (5-10 gallons per cycle), a larger batch process (55-100 gal) and then Custom built sizes up to any size you want these can be batch or continuous feed processes. Also i could build a flush mounted heating device to be attached to what ever containers you have available (and included instructions so no one kills themselves).

As far as carbon foot print, my idea is for people to make their own biochar and use the fuels pyrolysis provides rather then packaging and shipping it all over the world. As far as expense goes these things will be cheap, roughly $100, $200, $custom, respectively.

Imagine cooking biochar in your microwave, exactly the same way as you heat up your lunch. 7-10 mins and your done, no holes to dig or fires to put out and you get both the liquid fuels (potency depends on HC content in feedstock) and Biochar. If i get a little more interest / feedback ill draw up my design and share it here. Its currently just a idea backed with plenty of research and some experimenting has been done but the process is cheap, feasible and simple. 

 
Todd Parr
pollinator
Posts: 1316
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Chris Fraughton wrote:Thanks for feedback!

a larger batch process (55-100 gal)

$200,

7-10 mins and your done, no holes to dig or fires to put out and you get both the liquid fuels (potency depends on HC content in feedstock) and Biochar.


If you can do that, I'll be your first customer.
 
Harry Soloman
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Location: Pennsylvania, Dauphin County
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quite interesting.  I am fine with traditional means but if truly what you say I would entertain it.
 
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