Biochar: Carbon Conservation for Home, Health, Energy & Climate

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History & Industry
The Paleoclimate Record shows that 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 comprehensive wisdom.

Wise land management, Afforestation and the Thermal Conversion of Biomass can build back our Soil Carbon. [1]  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 CO2 equivalent, plus biofuels equal to 1MWh exported electricity, so each energy cycle is 1/3 carbon negative.                                                                                                                   Cutting edge, third generation companies, aiming for drop-in fuels report that 1 ton of biomass yields 75 gallons of bio-gasoline and 1/3 Ton Biochar. [2].                                        Another pathway is production of Ammonia and Biochar from biomass, making Agriculture Fossil Free Fertilizer , [3] In combination; Farmers can be Fossil Carbon Free utilizing less than 3% of their fields.
Beyond Rectifying the Carbon Cycle: Biochar systems Integrate nutrient management, serving the same healing function for the Nitrogen Cycle and Phosphorous Cycle.
A 50% – 74% reduction of NH3 loss when composting [4], Ag manure char absorbs phosphorus for nutrient credit income, CHP, Biomass Crop & energy grants.                                       When carbon comes to account, as Carbon Farming in Australia has, another big credit. In southwestern Ohio, a facility will be drying 45,000 tons of dairy manure per year, producing 3,000 tons of High Phosphorus Biochar via oxygen-starved gasification. The equipment for this project is being installed as we speak, and the facility should be fully operational in October.
Biochar feed supplements attend to the Carbon “Hoof, Paw & Fin Prints” of animal husbandry. The fostering of intestinal Wee-Beasties leads to improved husbandry metrics that run the gamut; less mortality, increased feed conversion rates, general health and product quality.                                                                                                                         In Aquaculture, with species of indeterminate growth, in shrimp, fish & clams, a doubling in size. Switzerland has 50,000 chickens and thousands of cows under carbon feed protocol, eliminating chronic botulism and manure odors. A cascading use of Biochar from silage, to cow, to compost, to field, closing the loop of nutrient management while building soil carbon.
Working to integrate the many applications of Biochar for enteric health, for mine scarred lands, as an in situ bioremediation for a host of toxic agents & pesticides, in addition to carbon negative energy, has been the most rewarding work of my life, networking and collaborating with a host of organizations across the globe.                                                   My goal is total symbiotic integration of nutrients, carbon and energy by the husbandry of whole new orders and kingdoms of microbial life. To recruit the Wee-Beasties from numerous biomes allows nature to do the heavy lifting, to solve many dilemmas in our macro world. There is plenty of room at the bottom, and Biochar has provided the tools to explore this vast unseen realm.                                                                                                                 The Delinat Foundation, Carbon Terra and Black Carbon DK. in Europe and SuperStoneClean Biochar in Japan, are the leaders in these integrated protocols. [5]
The compounding soil benefits; reduced nitrogen loss & soil CO2e emissions and a 17% increased water efficiency are documented in trials across soil types and climates. BlueLeaf, in Canada, has nine different trials, over the last four years, Vineyards and universities across Europe for five years, Virginia Tech now in their seventh year, the Australians are heading into their eighth year in broad acre study. [6]
Economies at all scales: Local economic stimulus is at all scales of development, from the Global Clean Cook Stove Alliance, to base load manure systems, to industrial biomass power production. My heroes are the engineers without Borders who have promoted clean cook stoves, Pyrolytic and Gasifing stoves that burn any biomass cleanly and 41% more efficiently. No black-lung, no emphysema, no deforestation, all the while building soil carbon for continually sustainable yields.                                                                                                   Please look at the work of the Biomass Energy Foundation. At scale, replacement of three rocks in a pot, across Africa would have the health impact equivalent of curing malaria and AIDS combined. [7]
Beyond nutrient management, Biochar hold high value for the remediation of heavy metals, mine scarred lands and Brownfields. Biochar Solutions has been a pioneer in these applications. DuPont initiated trials after I shared with them the pertinent papers from the ISU conference. A 95% reduction of Mercury uptake into the food chain was achieved in vitro, after one year the in situ pilot study is currently showing a 50% reductions and climbing. This DuPont and Oak Ridge National Laboratory collaboration is now being expanded, when taken to full-scale, showing these promising results, we could be eating fish out of the Shenandoah River within the decade.


Erich J. Knight
Shenandoah Gardens
1047 Dave Berry Rd. McGaheysville, VA. 22840
Skype; Erichj11 (under my address)
Technology Adviser;
Eco-technologies Group;
Chairman; Markets and Business Committee
2010 US Biochar Conference, at Iowa State University

5 thoughts on “Biochar: Carbon Conservation for Home, Health, Energy & Climate

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