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I did a search here on Daily Kos and found no diaries about Biochar. This is an overlooked but very important concept that this community should be exposed to, so I have been volunteered to do the honors.

This website is perhaps the best introduction.

Below the Great Orange S thingy is a short summary......

Biochar is the result of burning biomass without sufficient air [oxygen] to completely turn to white ash, leaving "charcoal", which is then mixed with some compost and/or compost "tea".
Then we can bury this mixture in our gardens or indoor plants for noticeably more growth, water and nutrient retention, and atmospheric carbon sequestration.

 For those who would like more on the evolution of our understanding of these very useful properties, here is a great, short introduction about the discovery of Terra preta in the Amazon jungle.

Another recent article suggests our agricultural soils have been depleted of their proper carbon ratio.  Since it seems to be relatively very easy to produce a good quality soil amendment grade biochar I am going to lobby my tiny town Fire Chief to build a charcoal producing pyramid the next time we have a yard waste burn pile event here. If local gardeners, vegetable and ornamental, become aware of it we can begin growing more better food and flowers and future trees. Just kidding.  

This should be one of the methods we employ to avoid the accumulation of more carbon dioxide in our planet's atmosphere. More renewables, less fossil fuels, greater energy efficiency, more mass transit and infrastructure maintenance, and more and better Progressives elected. Yeah, part of the Green growth industry that can veer us towards a solution. We might be able to pull this off but on my bad days I think we people are just too loony.

This is just a short introduction; there are many wrinkles and nuances to the biochar idea that are important that I have not explored much yet. An almost inseparable one is that there are volatiles and oils driven off in the production process that don't have to be just burned and discarded as waste.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip pile (28+ / 0-)

    Compost and Char that is.....

    There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

    by GDbot on Sat May 31, 2014 at 04:18:09 PM PDT

  •  I believe it is a real promise for (11+ / 0-)

    fertility of the soil and carbon sequestration. My newest compost has a healthy dose of it!

    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Sat May 31, 2014 at 05:13:49 PM PDT

    •  Where did you get your biochar to add to your (5+ / 0-)

      compost?

      There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

      by GDbot on Sat May 31, 2014 at 05:38:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A friend of mine is involved with a man (5+ / 0-)

        who has been making it. He has been selling it for him here in town.

        We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

        by occupystephanie on Sat May 31, 2014 at 07:43:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The friend of the friend in town is thus an (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FarWestGirl

          airborne toxicant emission generation source releasing highly toxic substances like benzene, phenol, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, naphthalene, and hundreds of other toxicants that are generated by pryrolitic destruction of woody biomass.

          Some of the same toxicants that are contained in cigarette smoke and coke oven emissions will be released in large quantities by the charcoal generation process.

          That is all in addition to the large amounts of carbon monoxide generated and the greenhouse gas emissions generated.....as the majority of the carbon content in the starting material which is the woody biomass will be released as greenhouse gas emissions and not fixed to the char.

    •  This isn't a legitimate statement of (0+ / 0-)

      agricultural science.   Adding biochar as a soil amendment does not add soil nutrients and is less desireable for building soil structure than adding uncombusted mulch and organic carbon.

      And you are ignoring the greenhouse gas emissions from wood combustion to produce the biochar.

      •  any potassium, calcium or magnesium and other (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GDbot

        trace metals in biochar is not going to be available for plant use because biochar does not achieve complete mineralization of those metal nutrients to ash form....the only form in which they would be available as an artifact of wood combustion.

        •  wrong again (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GDbot, Just Bob, Skyye, Gwennedd, Portia Elm

          http://carbon-negative.us/...

          The Real Dirt on Rainforest Fertility

          Mann 2002

          As a rule, terra preta has more “plant-available” phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, and nitrogen than surrounding oxisols; it also has much more
          organic matter, retains moisture and nutrients better, and is not rapidly exhausted by agricultural use when managed well.

          The key to terra preta’s long-term fertility, Glaser says,
          is charcoal: Terra preta contains up to 70 times as much as adjacent oxisols. “The charcoal prevents organic matter from being rapidly mineralized,” Glaser says. “Over time, it partly oxidizes, which keeps providing sites for nutrients to bind to.”

          Be the change that you want to see in the world

          by New Minas on Sat May 31, 2014 at 09:28:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  junk agriculture (0+ / 0-)

            Plant utilization requires complete mineralization of nutrients, which does not occur as biochar isn't wood ash.

            •  it allows for the utilization of (6+ / 0-)

              minerals that are in the soil already.

              Just because you believe something doesn't mean it is true.

              This short video (from the diarist's link) shows how biochar has been used in traditional agriculture for centuries and may be the oldest form of soil management in agriculture.

              Be the change that you want to see in the world

              by New Minas on Sat May 31, 2014 at 09:36:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Australia Department of Ag (7+ / 0-)

                Be the change that you want to see in the world

                by New Minas on Sat May 31, 2014 at 09:40:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You're not addressing the fundamental physical (0+ / 0-)

                  issue that potassium, calcium, magnesium and other metals that are contained in the char are bound within that matrix and are not in mineralized form.   Plants can only use nutrient metals that are released as solutions, such as from leaching from wood ash.

                  •  link and quote (5+ / 0-)

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                    The peregrine earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus (Oligochaeta: Glossoscolecidae) ingests pieces of charcoal and mixes them in a finely ground form with the mineral soil. P. corethrurus is widespread in all Amazonia and notably in clearings after burning processes thanks to its tolerance of a low content of organic matter in the soil.[44] This as an essential element in the generation of terra preta, associated with agronomic knowledge involving layering the charcoal in thin regular layers favourable to its burying by P. corethrurus.

                    I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                    by Just Bob on Sat May 31, 2014 at 09:51:04 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Are trying to develop a list of talking points on (0+ / 0-)

                      the advantages of burning down the Amazonian rain forest, or are you in denial about the fundamentals of solution chemistry as it relates to both plant physiology and agricultural practice?

                      •  I see you've mentioned burning down the (5+ / 0-)

                        Amazonian rain forest twice now. The idea in the Amazon is the use biochar for soil amendment to reduce the need for slash and burn.

                        http://www.css.cornell.edu/...

                        That's what happens when you comment without reading the references.

                        I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                        by Just Bob on Sat May 31, 2014 at 10:16:44 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  you said: (0+ / 0-)
                          The idea in the Amazon is the use biochar for soil amendment to reduce the need for slash and burn.
                          More talking points from you on the benefits of burning down tropical rain forests to replace with agriculture......
                          •  It's science, not a talking point. Follow the link (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            enhydra lutris, GDbot

                            http://www.css.cornell.edu/...

                            Or this link:
                            Johannes Lehmann
                            http://css.cals.cornell.edu/...

                            Overview

                            Research and teaching in soil biogeochemistry and soil fertility management. Specialization in soil organic matter and nutrient studies of managed and natural ecosystems. Focus on soil degradation and sustainable agriculture in the tropics (especially Africa), bio-energy, greenhouse gas emissions from soil and headwaters, and synchrotron-based methods for soil research.

                            Is there a reason for you to denigrate the work of Dr. Lehmann?

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 09:00:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Nothing there is a defense of burning down (0+ / 0-)

                            South American rain forests for agriculture production with its concomitant massive release of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

                          •  Willful ignorance is unforgivable. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            GDbot

                            No matter how many times people have provided links putting the lie to your posts, you continue as if we are all as ignorant as you seem to be.

                            Slash and burn is what you seem to have in mind. Amending soil with biochar is a sustainable alternative to slash and burn.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 02:20:57 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  ooops...the reply to your comment is below (0+ / 0-)

                            but with this one Ill add that you also ignore black carbon emissions associated with char production from the standpoint of policy on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions control.

                            I still don't understand why you think that producing biochar as an industrial operation to achieve carbon sequestration should be considered a better method of achieving carbon sequestration than simply stopping the destruction of the world's forests for agricultural conversion as land management policy.

                          •  drat....I just spent nearly an hour on an extended (0+ / 0-)

                            response it somehow it disappeared on me.......

                          •  What I have in mind is stopping the burning and (0+ / 0-)

                            the agricultural conversion of the worlds remaining forests and the need to do that because of the effects of such conversion on ambient greenhouse gas atmospheric concentrations.

                            What you, the diarist and others here advocate instead is the establishment of an entirely new massive GHG-emitting industry which is a new and increased emission of greenhouse gases....something we cannot afford in a sustainable policy of global greenhouse gas emission control and environmental management.

                            Any workable scheme to control such emissions would have many of the features of an IGCC plant in order to collected and capture GHG emissions from such a production process.  However I don't see you, the diarist and other char advocates signing up for any of that process technology and the resulting CO2 sequestration by geological placement that would be necessary to achieve any such control in the sustainable manner you are claiming.

                          •  You seem to be ignoring all the links that you (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Wordsinthewind, GDbot

                            have been given.

                            Did you not see that block quote with the words "develop zero emission performance biochar industrial production technologies" in bold?

                            Did you miss the reference to negative pressure indirectly heated rotary kiln?

                            Have you not seen the term "carbon negative"?

                            Have you missed that there are two processes referenced, one yielding carbon and the other using bone? The latter is a fertilizer adding calcium and phosphorus while the former is a soil conditioner that will improve water and nutrient retention. It's that latter that will sequester carbon. Dry manure can be added to the process to provide nitrogen.

                            You also seem to have missed that demonstration projects have been done in the EU where they have also presented draft standards (pdf) to eliminate contaminates such as heavy metals by documenting the products from source to finished products and have defined quality tests and limits.

                            Several people have provided links. You have provided emotion while studiously missing the point. You're not even trying to understand the subject. That, sir, is willful ignorance.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 04:58:40 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You have made this a very useful discussion, (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Just Bob, Wordsinthewind

                            Just Bob. Thanks for all the links. !

                            There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

                            by GDbot on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 05:48:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Now you can take the links we have provided for (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Wordsinthewind, GDbot

                            LS and write the follow on diary.

                            I'd do it but I'm notoriously lazy. ;-)

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 06:02:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Should you write a follow diary, (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Wordsinthewind, GDbot

                            be sure to get LS the credit he deserves. He inspired several of us to dig out the links.

                            For myself, I'd might make a decent research assistant, but I'm not a wordsmith. Finding the information is easy. Organizing the information and wrapping words around the concepts is much more difficult for me. I'll willingly give others all the credit they deserve for doing the hard work.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 06:11:51 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  grrrr **follow up diary** (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Wordsinthewind, GDbot

                            see what I mean?

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 06:13:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I understood (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Just Bob, GDbot

                            what you meant. Thanks for digging all this information out, we live in the desert where the ground isn't particularly fertile so I've been very interested in this.

                            When you're swerving on life's highway you're running someone off the road - Robert Earl Keen

                            by Wordsinthewind on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 06:20:23 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Your 'zero emission' process technology does not (0+ / 0-)

                            exist, and your claiming that it exists is technical engineering misjudgement and denial of available air pollution control information from U.S. EPA.

                          •  That is a false statement. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Wordsinthewind, GDbot

                            I don't think you realize that zero emission is a net value. More carbon is sequestered than is released.

                            Since the process uses agricultural waste as a feed stock, carbon is removed from the atmosphere. Composting releases CO2.

                            BTW, it isn't only carbon. Nitrous oxide is also a GHG and is 298 times as potent as carbon dioxide.
                            http://www.biochar-international.org/...

                            Soil is a significant source of nitrous oxide (N2O) and both a source and sink of methane (CH4). These gases are 23 and 298 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) as greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Reductions of up to 90% N2O emissions have been seen in soils amended with biochar. To be accepted in emissions trading schemes, a detailed understanding of the processes is required. This poster discusses a range of chemical, physical and biological mechanisms that may be involved.
                            But of course you knew that since you have read the links we have provided for you.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 08:00:30 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You said: (0+ / 0-)
                            I don't think you realize that zero emission is a net value. More carbon is sequestered than is released.
                            Well at least you're now admitting that your 'zero emission' technology has non-zero greenhouse gas emissions.  

                            The next step on your recovery from combustion engineering and environmental management malpractice is to come clean with information on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that your char production unit emits per ton of char produced.

                            Nothing at all in your link does anything of the sort.   You've not shown or demonstrated a char production unit capable achieving the non-zero greenhouse gase emission rate maximum that you're willing to claim and accept.

                            As to your claim....

                            I don't think you realize that zero emission is a net value.
                            ....you're still in denial mode that this form of greenhouse gas emission accounting and crediting is allowed in the United States for new source review air permitting, emission characterizations and NSR determinations of 'best available control technology'

                            ...and the problem with your denial mode on these issues is that it has the effect of undermining important air permitting rules that were put in place by President Obama and that are now on the chopping block at the Supreme Court.

                            Your carbon sequestration crediting scheme is not allowed under present United States rules for permitting the large industrial facilities that would be necessary to produce large amounts of char.

                            If, as a progressive Democrat, you're going to advocate in the area of energy development and greenhouse gas emission control, then actually practicing valid environmental engineering ought to be your goal....and you are not there at all yet so far with your char advocacy.

                          •  You're just full of fallacies (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            GDbot

                            You're think of carbon sequestration in terms of clean coal. You refuse to consider the possibility of sustainable agriculture as a carbon sink.

                            You limit yourself to thinking the present is the only possible scenario. Therefore nothing can change. Nothing can be done. How very limiting. Given the political climate, I do suspect the EU will make more progress than we will just as they have with renewable energy. They are already setting standards.

                            While carbon trading may make biochar more attractive, it has other positive features such as increased yields with less carbon based fertilizers and better water retention.

                            Have you heard that power plants have to reach a 30% reduction in carbon emissions? Does that not suggest to you that something will have to change?

                            You're idea of a progressive Democrat(?) is very different from mine.

                            Do you have anything of a factual nature to add? Can you provide any links supporting your perspective? I'll make it easy for you. Google "biochar fallacies". What you will find is a favorable reaction from Jim Lovelock and James Hansen and a negative reaction from George Monbiot. Guess which side I'm on and which side you're on. There's also that guy who thinks he can discredit biochar by pretending anyone thinks that biochar should be the only answer. Set up the straw man and knock it down. It's the usual BS from the usual suspects.

                            Good night, LS.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 09:16:52 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Well, Just Bob, since your reply does not (0+ / 0-)

                            contain any char production plant greenhouse gas emission factors or other measures of GHG emission intensity....
                            .......it means you are oblivious to EPA requirements for accounting for such greenhouse gas emissions.  

                            As of July, 2014....if I were Gina McCarthy, I'd have to stamp you char production plant unit air permit application as "Denied" under 40 CFR Section 52.21(b)(49) & (50) because of failure to properly characterize emissions from your char production units.

                          •  Just making it up, aren't ya? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            GDbot

                            Seeing as how I don't have a biochar production plant, I'm not worried about what you might do if you were someone else.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 11:18:58 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  the problem is you are not a serious advocate (0+ / 0-)

                            for the position you're taking because you fail to address
                            the inherently high greenhouse gas emissions from char production.   All of your links and statements are evasion from this issue....you don't address or recognize demonstrated GHG emission problems with your planned char production units.   Because of that, your char production  unit advocacy isn't reality based and isn't a legitimate environmental engineering concept as you depict it.

                          •  Still making it up (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            GDbot

                            I don't have a planned biochar production unit. You're trying very hard to make this a personal issue.

                            I would like to see a link to the numbers for emissions from a commercial, state of the art, biochar production unit that backs your claim. When we've been discussing negative pressure, indirectly heated, rotary kilns, it's difficult for me to believe your claim of "demonstrated GHG emission problems". I'm thinking you have something else in mind like someone's backyard charcoal barbeque grill. You really haven't followed the links we've provided.

                            It sounds to me as if they are getting as close to zero emissions as possible and collecting the off gases as a valuable product.

                            I have no idea what you are using for comparison. If bones are charred in that negative pressure rotary kiln to produce a fertilizer product, how does that compare to the current method of production for an equivalent product?

                            We aren't talking about a backyard home grown process. We talking about an industrial scale, carefully engineered, high tech kiln.

                            We obviously are not talking about the same thing.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 12:58:24 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You might also like this site: (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            GDbot

                            http://bze.org.au/...

                            bze = beyond zero emissions

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 08:16:53 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That is an interesting website, thanks; (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Just Bob

                            sometimes we just have to forge ahead.

                            There is a front page article right now about Norfolk, Virginia being flooded by the rising ocean http://www.dailykos.com/.... I think we will have to pursue all possible strategies to help put this genie back in the ground. Thanks for helping out so much with this diary and all the links.

                            We should put up a Biochar diary about once a month to help expose more Kossacks to the idea. When the whole picture is presented, compost tea inoculated properly produced char dug into agricultural land etc., I think it is a robust tool for mitigating the climate challenge.

                            There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

                            by GDbot on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 08:01:36 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  LakeSuperior, I'll try to help you here. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            enhydra lutris, GDbot

                            Last year there were over 380 peer reviewed biochar related papers published. Perhaps you should do a literature search on the subject.
                            http://www.biochar-international.org/...

                            Key Findings
                            [...]
                            Scientific research into the various facets of biochar continues to expand rapidly. The number of peer-reviewed biochar-related publications increased nearly five-fold over the last five years with over 380 papers published in 2013.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 09:49:57 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  so what...nothing about any of those papers (0+ / 0-)

                            changes the facts that char production is a dirty, greenhouse-gas-intensive, high criteria and toxicant-emitting industrial process which you seem to have fallen in love with.

                            And none of those papers discuss any kind of a zero-emission process for producing it.

                          •  I see you have yet to learn the difference (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            GDbot, Wordsinthewind

                            between charcoal and biochar.

                            BTW, have you really read all 380+ papers?

                            I'm sure the production of biochar could be done in the dirtiest possible manner. I'm equally sure it will not be done in the manner.

                            Have you run across the Refertil consortium in your exhaustive reading?

                            http://www.refertil.info/

                            http://www.refertil.info/...

                            What are the key objectives of the REFERTIL project?
                            The REFERTIL is an application oriented science and technology development project contributing to the cost efficient transformation of the organic waste streams from the agriculture and food industry. The key objectives of the REFERTIL project are to improve the currently used compost treatment systems and develop zero emission performance biochar industrial production technologies towards safe and economical nutrient recovery process. Beyond the industrial compost and stabile carbon based biochar technology development, the REFERTIL project provides a strong legislation support to the European Commission for the new EU27 fertiliser regulation, and standardization of the compost/biochar technologies and safe products. The compost and biochar policy support work elements will be completed by September 2013.

                            The REFERTIL Consortium is led by a Swedish SME industrial partner specialised for advanced zero emission pyrolysis and biochar industrial technology development and engineering since decades. The well balanced mixture of farmer and advanced industrial engineering SMEs, industrial and applied research partners, SME stakeholders and representative from the public sector partners are encouraging  the development of proactive cooperation between researchers, industry and relevant public sector stakeholders. The SME and industrial engineering knowledge and practical experiences are combined with business oriented research activities, which cross and refertilization is the clear interest and benefit to SMEs.

                            emphasis added

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 02:42:34 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

  •  Since producing biochar releases larger amounts (0+ / 0-)

    of greenhouse gases, and the diary does not address this issue, nothing here is legitimate agriculture air quality  and global greenhouse gas emission control science.

    The next thing the diarist will claim is that carbon dioxide released from biochar production is harmless, which it isn't.

    The idea that wood combustion greenhouse gas emissions should be disregarded or ignored is an application of junk science.

    •  Not necessarily... (10+ / 0-)
      Since producing biochar releases larger amounts of greenhouse gases
       I tried to point out that there are methods of containing the greenhouse gases in the last sentence. This is actually a complex subject that I wanted to introduce slowly, given the time restraints I am operating with. I hope I haven't offended you by not including more detail in this first attempt.

      There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

      by GDbot on Sat May 31, 2014 at 06:05:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You don't have any case to defend on the matter (0+ / 0-)

        of high emissions from charcoal production....

        See EPA emission factors for this sector:

        http://www.epa.gov/...

        Charcoal production releases the following emissions:

        1100 lbs CO2 /ton charcoal produced
        290 lbs CO /ton produced (will react to CO2 in atmosphere eventually
        110 lbs CH4 /ton produced
        and
        270 lbs VOC /ton produced (will react to CO2 in the atmosphere eventually.

        You're completely glossing over large process-related emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria and toxic air pollutants produced by charcoal production.

        •  once again (6+ / 0-)

          you look at business as usual and decide that it cannot be done.  

          We will have to fundamentally change the way we energize our society within the next 20 years if our children are going to survive (much less our grandchildren).

          It is highly likely that we will not cut fossil fuel use in time and so will have to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, Biochar is a possible way to do that if we use a combination of renewable, biomas or even nuclear power to do the charring.

          The reason that this is being looked at is because it is a potentially viable industrial-scale process that can work to reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere back to 350ppmv.

          Be the change that you want to see in the world

          by New Minas on Sat May 31, 2014 at 06:37:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  But that is current carbon, not fossil carbon - it (9+ / 0-)

          comes from a plant that took it out of the air, not from coal or natural gas that adds to the total burden,

          On top of that, if it turns out that biochar is indeed good for the soil and crops, there are ways to make charcoal that allow capturing the released gases.



          Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

          by Wee Mama on Sat May 31, 2014 at 06:40:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The world's carbon dioxide concentrations depend (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            David54

            on all greenyhouse gas emissions from all sources, including all fossil fuel use and emissions from all biomass combustion, whether human initiated or not.  

            Your argument has the functional effect for global GHG air management purposes of ascribing zero contributions from the problem from such sources as forest fires, including from deliberate forest destruction as goes on down in South America.

            the attempt to declare a distinction between "current carbon"  vs. "fossil carbon" is just another form of the effort to somehow deem some carbon dioxide emissions as "good" and some as "bad"  --- This entire line of thought has been rejected by U.S. EPA which considers that greenhouse gases from biomass is a regulated Clean Air Act air pollutant for permitting and emission inventory purposes, effective this July, 2014.

            As a practical matter, the diarist's proposed, high-emitting biochar production units would have to be permitted and would have to show best available control technology if they were a major stationary source or major modification under the rules.

            As a practical matter, the existing charcoal production industry is a dirty, high-airborne-toxicant emitting enterprise which is completely glossed over in consideration of promoting biochar, which can only sequester a minor portion of the carbon contained in woody biomass used to make it....with the majority of the carbon that is process generated being released to the atmosphere as greenhouse gas emissions.

            •  IOW, you have nothing intelligent or on (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GDbot

              point to say on the topic. That's why you bring up shit completely irrelevnat to the current discussion like deforestation in the amozon and in africa, etc. You also have a problem with the truth, making shit up and posting it as fact, such as:

              the diarist's proposed, high-emitting biochar production units and other shit you are making up out of whole cloth.

              That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

              by enhydra lutris on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 10:46:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  "biochar releases larger amts of greenhouse gasses (5+ / 0-)

      Au contraire,

      First of all, gas from flaming pyrolysis of woody biomass consists approximately as {H2:~15-20%, CO:~15-20%, CO2:~10-13%, H2O:~5-10%, CH4:~1-3%, N2:~45-50%, O2 and other gases: trace amounts}.  Entrained in with the flow of hot gases are vaporized condensable liquids and solid particulates.   Combust all the flammable gases {H2, CO, and CH4} and the result will be {CO2:~25-30%, H2O:~25-30%, N2:~40-50%} and more heat.

      Secondly if you burned all the biomass to ash then your statement of releasing larger amounts of CO2 would be close to correct.  However, in a pyrolytic process ~30% of the biomass remains as inert carbon with a decay time of hundreds to thousands of years.

      Lastly, it you just piled the biomass on the ground and let the microbes compost it it would return to the atmosphere as CO2 and NO2 in about a decade.

      •  Nothing in your comment addresses greenhouse (0+ / 0-)

        gas emission intensity of char production and your information isn't useful for determining emission factors for the process pollutants released in char production.

        Either you're trying to deny EPA's AP-42 information on GHG emission factors or you're inventing numbers....hard to tell which is the case for your comment.

        •  If the charred material (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GDbot, wonmug, Calamity Jean

          is used as a source of fuel in syngas generation then the net release of CO2 is negative

          If you simply bury the material it will break down into CO2 under aerobic decomposition.

          so the net contribution of co2 is actually less if you take 1/2 of the total carbon, in the form of char, and bury it.

          Be the change that you want to see in the world

          by New Minas on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 09:46:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  This is absolute bullshit. You need to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GDbot

      personall inspect all the plants in operation before you can state what they release. Yes, mr. science, burning wood creates CO2. No, mr wald-ass-guesser, it is not necessary to release such CO2 into the atmosphere within normal human timescales. CO2 can be converted into other things, mr. science. Perhaps a High School chemistry course would help you here.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 10:10:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The problem is pyrolyzing cuttings and (7+ / 0-)

    similar yard waste easily in ones own yard with minimal CO2 generation and then figuring out how deep to bury it.

    It isn't that everybody here is unaware of it, it is just that nobody has done a diary on it.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sat May 31, 2014 at 05:47:27 PM PDT

    •  If you want to sequester carbon contained in (0+ / 0-)

      biomass, just bury the stuff in soil without burning it.

      Burning (including pyrolyzing processes) releases greenhouse gas emissions that would not be released if you simply buried unburned biomass.

      •  I am doing that as well... (7+ / 0-)
        just bury the stuff in soil without burning it
        Hugelkultur is another process that can be exploited for our mutual benefit.

        The greenhouse gases do not need to be released into the atmosphere, as I tried to point out, but many of my friends and neighbors don't have the room to bury the stuff nor make the compost tea drenched biochar. I think we can make a product for them that helps us all.

        There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

        by GDbot on Sat May 31, 2014 at 06:31:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The release of greenhouse gas emissions from (0+ / 0-)

          biochar production is inherent to the process and you're trying to gloss over that fact by your promotion of biochar in which you do not show or demonstrate a carbon balance for emission characterization purposes.

          •  Just because he didn't (6+ / 0-)

            doesn't mean that you are correct.

            http://www.css.cornell.edu/...

            Energy Balance and Emissions
            Associated with Biochar
            Sequestration and Pyrolysis
            Bioenergy Production
            College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University,
            Ithaca, NY 14850, and GY Associates Ltd
            Received June 7, 2007. Revised manuscript received
            December 21, 2007. Accepted January 7, 2008.

            Net Energy Gain and Energy Yield. The annual net energy output (in the form of syngas) ranges from 35 622-69 115 MJ ha-1 where char is used as a source of energy (Table 1) and 26 008–49 903 MJ ha-1 where biochar is retained for soil amendment.
            From this preliminary analysis it can be appreciated that if a pyrolysis facility is financially viable, then the potential revenue fromCemissions trading alone can justify optimizing the plant to produce biochar for application to land.

            Be the change that you want to see in the world

            by New Minas on Sat May 31, 2014 at 08:05:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  It is my (admittedly limited) understanding (5+ / 0-)

        understanding that biochar's prowess as a soil enhancer comes in part from the fact tht it is pyrolized, The reference to the CO2 load is simply tht it is preferable to release as little as possible in the pyrolyzing process.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Sat May 31, 2014 at 08:23:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  EPA's AP-42 emission factors indicate (0+ / 0-)

          a release of 1100 lbs of carbon dioxide per ton of char produced and 110 lbs of methane per ton of char produced.

          This means that char production releases 0.55 lbs of carbon dioxide for every pound of char produced.....and that is a lot of greenhouse gas emissions for this dirty process.   And that doesn't even consider carbon release in other forms....(i.e. CO, VOCs, etc. )

          you said:

          The reference to the CO2 load is simply tht it is preferable to release as little as possible in the pyrolyzing process.
          This is like wishing that burning down the rain forest won't release carbon dioxide.    Your good intentions have no effect on the physical release of greenhouse gases from the char production process.
          •  Again, as I tried to make clear, char production (6+ / 0-)

            does not have to result in the release of any gasses. There are some pyrolizing methods that contain many more of the  VOCs [volatile organic compounds] that can be utilized for other purposes.

            There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

            by GDbot on Sat May 31, 2014 at 10:06:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not strictly true, read my entire original (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GDbot

            comment. There is tech out there to do the job, the difficulty is doing it in a home environment setting because of the small scale and discontinuous operation. There ae also issues as to which tech to try to use.

            That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

            by enhydra lutris on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 07:36:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This is a completely naive and false (0+ / 0-)

              interpretation of the process of pyrolitic processing for char production....it is science denial.

              •  No, this is just sleazy ass slander. Science (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Just Bob, GDbot

                denial is denial of known, established scientific fact, not disagreement with Lake superior's personal beliefs and theories.

                That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                by enhydra lutris on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 09:11:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  science denial includes deliberate propagation of (0+ / 0-)

                  erroneous engineering information....including the claims of 'no process emissions' from char production.... which is what you're doing.

                  Your alleged 'fact' of a zero-emission char production process is like the 'facts' taught at the creation museum.

                  •  Wrong again (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    GDbot

                    Please see the REFERTIL Consortium linked above:
                    http://www.dailykos.com/...

                    I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                    by Just Bob on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 03:02:55 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  First, the quoted material is a complete (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Just Bob, GDbot

                    outright lie, I'm doing nothing of the source.

                    .including the claims of 'no process emissions' from char production.... which is what you're doing.
                    Your alleged 'fact' of a zero-emission char production process is like the 'facts' taught at the creation museum.
                    Another of your complete lies.

                    Now, for the record, I have not claimed but do believe, and you appear to believe but cannot claim to have a scientific basis for so doing, that it is possible to pyrolize wood and to release less than 100% of the CO2 thus created into the atmosphere. It is a complete lie to say otherwise, because people have captured and sequestered CO2 with quite a variety of technologies and continue to do so.

                    You are just using that science denial as a form of malicious slander to try to smear those who don't agree with your baseless theories.

                    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                    by enhydra lutris on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 03:20:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Your research is dubious at best and at worst you (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GDbot

            are a wannabe scientist.  Learn how to read before you jump into the deep end.

            Here's the link to your questionable research: 10.7 Charcoal 10.7.1 Process Description1-4  from the Epa.gov AP-42 website.

            Your numbers come from the section on the production of CHARCOAL.  This is NOT biochar nor is the production process anywhere similar.  CHARCOAL production is inherently a dirty wasteful process. The intention is to leave hydrocarbons in the charcoal briquette so that they will burn.  With biochar production the off-gas is captured or reused in the production process.

            Google biochar production for a few months and then come back and have an enlightened discussion.

      •  It wont stay there (5+ / 0-)

        Just burying the "stuff" will only sequester it for about 7-14 years.  Microbial action will convert it to nutrients and CO2.

        Biochar stays inert as a soil carbon source of hundreds of years.  That is a better sequestration than you propose with burying.

      •  what about aerobic decompostion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GDbot

        that produces CO2?

        Be the change that you want to see in the world

        by New Minas on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 09:47:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Chang (6+ / 0-)
    Simply put, recent data from farming systems and pasture trials around the globe show that we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term “regenerative organic agriculture.” These practices work to maximize carbon fixation while minimizing the loss of that carbon once returned to the soil, reversing the greenhouse effect.
    http://rodaleinstitute.org/...

    Be the change that you want to see in the world

    by New Minas on Sat May 31, 2014 at 06:30:49 PM PDT

  •  This discussion is important to me, so I will be (6+ / 0-)

    back. A friend is dragging me away for about an hour....sorry about that but I will be back soonish.

    There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

    by GDbot on Sat May 31, 2014 at 07:01:27 PM PDT

  •  I tried an experiment with biochar a couple of (8+ / 0-)

    years ago. I had a large pile of scrap wood and brush (compact car size) and decided to dig a pit and burn a smaller batch. There were a couple of sticks that stretched from the little pile to the big pile and they burned and caught the big pile on fire, so I threw some more dirt on the big pile, it burned for a week. Eventually it caved in on one side and exposed something similar to a orange hot volcano dome under the dirt shell. Anyway, most of it made charcoal. I don't have objective data about how well it works, as I'm pursuing other composting ideas as well, but my garden is pretty rich and robust. Unfortunately we're in a hellish drought. So I'm working on water conservation. The biochar should help conserve water.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat May 31, 2014 at 08:17:45 PM PDT

    •  I have assembled two little 8x12 raised beds (6+ / 0-)

      out of some weed trees that I had to get rid of on my quarter acre. To keep the wild animals out of the vegetable patch too. I have noticed termites chomping away and releasing their outsized share of greenhouse gases compared to livestock, apparently, so I am still unclear which way to focus my efforts.

      There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

      by GDbot on Sat May 31, 2014 at 08:39:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I burned wood for heat... (8+ / 0-)

      In a closed-door fireplace insert. It does a good job of keeping the house warm.

      Anyway, I experimented with making charcoal for the purpose of grilling fuel. Here was my method:

      Preparation
      - Collect steel paint cans.
      - Select fruit tree wood from the wood pile.
      - Cut the wood into pieces that fit in the cans.
      - Pound three 20p nail holes in the lid of the can.
      - Put the lid back on the can packed with wood.

      Firing
      - Put two cans in the fireplace, towards one side.
      - Build and tend a typical fire - it runs the while day.
      - The woodgas shoots out the holes in the lid, and immediately combusts.

      Collecting
      - Next morning, the fire is out. Take the cans out.
      - Replace the lids with solid lids and leave for the next day.
      - The next burn uses another set while the previous batch totally cools.

      Basically I got 6 "50 pound" bags full without really trying. I get the full energy content, because the conversion is done in the fireplace. I get use of the woodgas.

      I also now have very nice-burning charcoal.

      The United States for All Americans

      by TakeSake on Sat May 31, 2014 at 09:58:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I thank you all for contributing to this, and (7+ / 0-)

    I will be back in the early a.m. to continue this for as long as necessary but it is late and I am in sleep mode. Thanks friends!

    There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

    by GDbot on Sat May 31, 2014 at 10:34:15 PM PDT

  •  It has been mentioned in passing. Mostly in (6+ / 0-)

    comments, (several of them mine, lol), but it's either not been diaried directly or not tagged properly, so thank you for the intro and links.

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
    ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

    by FarWestGirl on Sat May 31, 2014 at 11:25:58 PM PDT

  •  GDBot, thank you (5+ / 0-)

    Biochar is a very promising innovation and I am glad to see you bringing it up here when it has been ignored.

    In this open forum, diarists can often run into the kind of thing that you have here. I know that my own articles on the citizen initiative process that communities use to combat corporate harms from fracking, GMO contamination and factory farming are littered with angry and abusive comments that carry the thread off into the small margin give-and-takes which makes readers click off.

    I've found that, with repeat business, it is best not to respond to end that part of the thread. Often, letting them have the "last word" satisfies them even if they receive zero tips for the comment. Then you can go ahead and engage those who really want to discuss the issue in a civil and productive manner.

    And I am not "aiming" this comment at any one particular commenter. I have had fruitful discussions before with him. This is just a general observation.

    You get high points from me for not responding in kind!

    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 07:51:37 AM PDT

  •  This never happened, it seems (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, Portia Elm

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 11:47:09 AM PDT

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