erich Knight

+ Follow
since Jul 27, 2010
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
(keep public parts private until JForum day)
expand Pioneer Scavenger Hunt
Moderation Tools

Recent posts by erich Knight

55 Uses of Biochar

by Hans-Peter Schmidt

Initially only used in agriculture, the range of uses for biochar now covers a wide range of different fields, giving this plant-based raw material the chance to make the most of its positive properties. Wherever biochar is specifically used even for industrial purposes, the carbon taken from the atmosphere in the form of CO2 can be stored for long periods or at least used to replace fossil carbon sources.

To appreciate the wider applications of Biochar, the use as a feed additive and nutrient management tool, Please review my presentation and slides of this opening talk for the USBI Biochar conference in Sonoma California. This is the third US Biochar conference, after ISU 2010 and Colorado 2009;

"Carbon Conservation for Home, Health, Energy & Climate"

Modern Thermal conversion of biomass burns only the hydrocarbons in that biomass, conserving the carbon for the soil. At the large farm or village scale modern pyrolysis reactors can relieve energy poverty, food insecurity and decreased dependency on chemical fertilizers.

Please take a look at this YouTube video by the CEO of CoolPlanet Biofuels, guided by Google's Ethos and funding, along with GE, BP and Conoco, they are now building the reactors that convert 1 ton of biomass to 75 gallons of bio – gasoline and 1/3 ton Biochar for soil carbon sequestration.

If CoolPlanet Biofuels processed the entire projected US biomass harvest in 2030, of 1.6 Billion Tons, the yields would be;
120 Billion Gallons of tank ready fuel ,(The US uses 150 Billion gallons/year), and 0.3 Billion Tons of Biochar
The big numbers are jaw dropping,
The 0.3 Billion Tons of Biochar, with a surface area of 400 m2/gram means; One Ton has a surface area of 98,000 Acres!
Now for conversion fun: 98,000 Acres is equal to 152 square miles!! ....
So; 300 Million Tons of Biochar equals 45 Billion Square Miles, or 230 times the entire surface of the earth!

Costs; The field to wheel analysis is $1.50/gallon!

To review other developments in cleanburning cook stoves, pyrolytic home heating stoves etc. Please review my Sonoma Biochar Conference Report;
4 years ago
My favorite simple TLUDs & retorts, for Home Made, Low Tech, Clean Biochar;

The extremely simple bucket in a bucket system;

The Jolly Roger Oven, a hybrid TLUD driven retort;
JRO; TLUD / Retort hybrid

BioChar Producing BBQ Grill, produced by the company Chip Energy in Illinois;
5 years ago
The cutting edge Pyro/Catalytic Biochar technology is just too good to be true, However Google, General electric, British Petroleum & Conoco Phillips do.
For a full summary of where the Biochar platform for bioenergy & nutrient integration, here is my presentation at the last US Biochar Conference in Sonoma California;

Carbon Conservation for Home, Health, Energy & Climate

Complementary to my focus on animal feed supplements as practiced by the European and Japanese companies, here is this first in vivo study by Dr.Leng in Australia. This Black Revolution for agriculture could be fermented by our livestock. In the EU, 90% of the Biochar produced is passed through livestock before composting and field application.
Dr. Preston and Dr. Ron Leng have been conducting experiments wherein a 0.64% rice hull biochar (DM basis) was incorporated into cattle feed as a means of reducing enteric methane emissions and enhancing feed conversion. They discovered that biochar reduced methane production by as much as 22%. When nitrate was added to the biochar, the total reduction in methane was 41%. And listen to this: animal weight gain increased by an unbelievable 25%! No doubt, this has to be one the greatest advances in bovine nutrition in the last few decades.

Also to your interest, the Iwamoto company (SuperStoneClean) has been doing soil remediation in Fukushima Japan, concentrating the cesium to magnetic ash. Additionally, the video below, shows their work in remediating salt damage from the tsunami itself.
Fields Flourish Again
A company in Gifu prefecture has developed a machine that's helping with the recovery of agriculture in Japan's northeast.

Please take a look at this YouTube video by the CEO of CoolPlanet Biofuels, guided by Google's Ethos and funding, along with GE, BP and Conoco, they are now building the reactors that convert 1 ton of biomass to 75 gallons of bio – gasoline and 1/3 ton Biochar for soil carbon sequestration. They claim that the price of production, from field to tank is $1.25/gallon.

If it's good enough for Google… It's good enough for me;
5 years ago
Trees have done it Before and Can do It Again
This article on Genghis Khan's CO2 sainthood, by Julia Pongratz of the Carnegie Institute

The Unintended, Heavy-handed, afforestation ties in with the research I have been following by Dr. Dull at the University of Texas, his work with lake sediment core pollen & charcoal, nominates Christopher Columbus for much higher CO2 sainthood. His nomination is weighted with 2 to 5 Billion tons versus Mr Khan's 700 million tons of atmospheric Carbon reductions;
The Columbian encounter led to terrestrial biospheric carbon sequestration on the order of 2 to 5 GtC Climate Forcing.
The Columbian Encounter and the Little Ice Age: Abrupt Land Use Change, Fire, and Greenhouse Forcing - Annals of the Association of American Geographers

The Legacy of 17.5 million Y-chromosome male descendants takes some wind from Genghis' nomination, while the new genetic work that corroborates the loss of 50% of the pre-Columbian New World population, with the Spanish records of the populations' rebound, leaves Christopher in a stronger position for unintended CO2 sainthood.

The relevance of afforestation as a climate tool should please Dr. Hansen with his latest plans for 100 GtC of new Forest;
"The Case for Young People and Nature: A Path to a Healthy, Natural, Prosperous Future".

The last millennium has seen three major CO2 reductions, all attributable to trees, or should I say a reduction of people who destroy forest. Whether it's Genghis Khan murdering farmers or the black death reducing farmers by one third or the Columbian exchange reducing human fire management by half, the results have been similar and proportional. This unintended, politically incorrect, afforestation has proved, time and again, that trees can do the job

My take and interest;
The Paleoclimate Record shows agricultural-geo-engineering is responsible for 2/3rds of our excess greenhouse gases. The unintended consequence, the flowering of our civilization. Our science has now realized these consequences and has developed a more encompassing wisdom. Wise land management, afforestation and the thermal conversion of biomass can build back our soil carbon. Pyrolysis, Gasification and Hydro-Thermal Carbonization are known biofuel technologies, What is new are the concomitant benefits of biochars for Soil Carbon Sequestration; building soil biodiversity & nitrogen efficiency, for in situ remediation of toxic agents, and, as a feed supplement cutting the carbon foot print of livestock. Modern systems are closed-loop with no significant emissions. The general life cycle analysis is: every 1 ton of biomass yields 1/3 ton Biochar equal to 1 ton CO2e, plus biofuels equal to 1MWh exported electricity, so each energy cycle is 1/3 carbon negative.

Erich Cheers,
5 years ago
Two new papers which entwine Biochar soil technology deeper into the new findings at the advanced light sources and with new NMR techniques;

Potassium, as cloud nucleation catalyst, another ecological service delivered by the fungal kingdom.
How Fungi May Create the Amazon's Clouds


Demonstration, Using quantitative 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy measurements, concludes that both Terra Preta soils and Midwest dark soils contain 40%+ of their organic carbon (SOC) as pyrolytic carbon, that this pyrolytic carbon can account for all CEC

Abundant and Stable Char Residues in Soils: Implications for Soil Fertility and Carbon Sequestration

New avenues of confirmation, new pathways for applications are cropping up all over. The vision of the fungal world calling the rain, The farms in Switzerland eliminating odor of manure,closing the nutrient loop with Biochar feed rations provide a feast of new learning and imagination.

5 years ago
Please review my talk and slides for the 2012 Sonoma Biochar conference. A focus in my talk is the closing of the nutrient loop on farms in Europe. The use of Biochar is a feed supplement for livestock & Aquaculture and the synergistic composting of livestock manure with Biochar to retain 50 to 75% of the nitrogen normally lost to the air during composting

Carbon Conservation for Home, Health, Energy & Climate

CoolPlanet Biofuels,
Please take a look at this YouTube video by the CEO of CoolPlanet Biofuels, guided by Google's Ethos and funding, along with GE, BP and Conoco, they are now building the reactors that convert 1 ton of biomass to 75 gallons of bio – gasoline and 1/3 ton Biochar for soil carbon sequestration. They report the field to tank production cost at $1.25/gallon! This year their production line for skid mounted, farm scale reactors will open its doors, they plan a total production run of 100K units.
If it's Good enough Google, .....It's Good Enough for Me.

5 years ago

Andrew Parker wrote:Google "belonio", "rice husk", and "gasifier". If all you want is biochar/charcoal look up charcoal retorts or kilns. You could use a belonio gasifier to heat a charcoal retort to make high quality bamboo charcoal. You can still get biochar from the carbonized rice husks.

One of the best home made TLUD (Top Lit Up-Draft) Retort Hybrid stove designs to make biochar. The JRO makes 30 gallons of char per 90 minute run. The fan assist allows for some moisture in the feedstock;
JRO; TLUD / Retort hybrid
5 years ago
Dear Erica,
Both the Organic and Agricultural chemical schools of soil science recognize Biochar as a powerful tool to
foster biodiversity and nitrogen efficiency in soils.

Recent work by C. Steiner, at University of Georgia, 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 Green House Gas emissions and the sale of compost as an organic nitrogen fertilizer.

Biochar effects on soil biota – A review
Soil Biology and Biochemistry journal, a review of international work by Lehmann & Janice Thies;
The North Carolina Farm Center has large scale field application trials encompassing 16 acres on two farms in southeastern North Carolina.

Virginia Tech is in their sixth year of field trials with the Carbon Char Group's "CharGrow" formulated bagged product.

6 years ago
Dear Permies,

This modification of a basic TLUD (top lit up draft) small cook stove adds a retort on top. A great innovation, and to me the best , bar none appliance for home made biochar.

Dr. Hugh McLaughlin and Doug Clayton have just wrapped up a paper describing what they have been doing this year with regards to the "Jolly Roger" which will be posted to Tom Miles to be posted on the discussion web site. a youtube you can see here:

JRO The Jolly Roger Oven
6 years ago
I tend to agree with BiologyBill,
Moira Wilson of the University of Manchester has developed a ceramic dating technique which sounds perfect to draw an exact time line of TP development year over year.
At an accuracy of years we could see the speed at which the system built on itself once initiated.
Archaeological dating by re-firing ancient pots -

My reviews of the agronomic field trials & literature using Biochars clearly show consistent positive effects in temperate & tropical soils, what is not known, and in debate, are some of the mechanisms for the "black box" nature of biochar effects : MYC / AMF & microbe refuge theory, Glomalin soil aggregation & water films, microbial mats & quorum sensing, expansion of aerobic soil horizons & suppression of the anaerobic. As a feed ration for livestock & aquaculture;
and the most startling, plant chemical signaling for expression of dormant genetic traits.

I sent DuPont work with heavy metals last year which initiated field trials Hg showing a 95% reduction of food web uptake! Their lab bench results showed good binding, but did not hit 95% reductions until the in situ study with the full complement of microbes, fungi and the bioturbation's of macro fauna.

This same problem remains for explanation of the mechanisms of other char applications, The internal biology changes when char is used as a feed ration, The role of Phosphorous chars for both plant availability and an heavy metal binding remediation techniques. The intricacies of fostering increased aerobic conditions into deeper soil horizons, I'm just so glad we have all these positive affects that tantalize
researchers and will build funding support to answer the mechanism questions.

What the CFC / Ozone success story was for raising the importance and attention to atmospheric chemistry, I feel biochar soils will be for carbon soil chemistry, Mycology and Microbiology.

So Much work to be done,

The Terra Preta Prayer

Our Carbon who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name
By kingdom come, thy will be done, IN the Earth to make it Heaven.
It will give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our atmospheric trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against the Kyoto protocols
And lead us not into fossil fuel temptation, but deliver us from it's evil
low as we walk through the valley of the shadow of Global Warming,
I will feel no evil, your Bio-fuels and fertile microbes will comfort me,
For thine is the fungal kingdom,
and the microbe power,
and the Sequestration Glory,
For ever and ever (well at least 2000 years)
6 years ago