Hawai'i Agriculture Notes: Biochar
|Seedlings illustrating the difference between plants grown in biochar-amended
soil (darker soil on the right).
- UH: doing biochar work at the Hawaii
Natural Energy Institute (HNEI)
Renewable Resources Research
- UH: CTAHR research
Effects of Flashed Carbonized Macadamia Nutshell Charcoal on Plant Growth
and Soil Chemical Properties, 2007
Goro Uehara, Michael Antal
- Found that choice of charcoal, for Hawaiian soils, matters greatly.
It has to do with the amount of "Volatile Matter" in the charcoal.
Typical stuff (like store-bought charcoal briquettes) can actually
reduce plant growth. So, how does one ensure that the
volatile matter content is low?
- paper: Charcoal Volatile Matter Content and its Effects on Plant Growth
and Biological Properties of an Infertile Tropical Soil (abstract),
Oct. 7 2008, Deenik et al.
- has more detail on how High Volatile Matter (HVM) in char can produce
- presentation: Tai McClellan, Effect of Volatile Matter Content in Charcoal
on Soil Biological Properties
Aug. 10 2009
- CTAHR Publication:
Basics of Biochar : A Natural Soil Amendment (2010)
- Josiah Hunt, Michael DuPonte, Dwight Sato, and Andrew Kawabata
- This is the main CTAHR publication to date on biochar
Beneficial Use of Biochar To Correct Soil Acidity (2011)
- UH: Flash Carbonization:
- Summary from CTAHR News: "Flash-carbonized charcoal was developed by
UH Manoa professor
Antal. Flash carbonization locks carbon into a stable, biologically
unavailable form, so flash carbonizing agricultural wastes prevents them
from releasing greenhouse gasses. Charcoal can also improve a soil’s ability
to retain water and minerals. However, student-turned-research assistant
Tai McClellan has found that the degree of carbonization is critical: adding
highly carbonized macadamia nutshell charcoal to soil can benefit plants,
but poorly carbonized charcoal contains volatile compounds that inhibit
- Claim: "The
process, first described by Antal
(patent, 2004), revolutionizes charcoal production..."
- News release Dec. 2007:
- The 3 original licensees (as of 2008):
- Carbon Diversion Inc., located in Waianae, Oahu. aimed to set up
- July 2007: Oakland, CA-based Kingsford obtained the rights to use
UH's process for cooking charcoal.
- "Pacific Carbon and Graphite" which has no website
- updates below under "Char in Hawaii"
- Although "the charcoal produced in Antal's kiln can be used as a metal
reductant, fertilizer, cooking charcoal, or to replace fuel coal", none
of the licensees are yet making fertilizer.
Associate Professor Johannes Lehmann
- Lots of biochar research occurring in their Soil Biogeochemistry/Soil
Fertility Management Program
Biochar: the new frontier
- Test projects all around the world - Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Quebec..
- The article
Bio-energy in the black (pdf) has the basic information, dozens more
papers have details
- Lehmann, J. 2007. "A handful of carbon",
- Bruno Glaser,
U of Bayreuth
terra preta, and Winfried Sehn in Bingen
- mentioned in BBC article
Is the hype justified? March 16, 2009, turning sewage into char.
There is a high percentage of ash. It is still research. Glaser
is testing biochar's use on the poor soils of northern Germany.
- Mingxin Guo, DSU (Delaware)
- April 2008
press coverage: "now preparing to expand his research and apply the
charcoal to the soils of DSU’s Blendt Farm near Smyrna."
- April 11, 2008:
Charcoal May Help Improve Soil Quality on NPR. Guo is extremely
enthusiastic, but unfortunately implies that regular store-bought charcoal
might be fine for soil.
- As of March 2009, no further info. Maybe Guo is still looking
for char? or funding?
- Climate Friendly Farming at WSU
is a 5-year project started in 2006
- The Japanese have apparently been studying charcoal for agriculture
for a long time, some references back to the 1980s
- Japan Biochar Association.
Sequestration by Carbonization of Biomass and Forestation: Three Case
- Ogawa, Makoto; Okimori, Yasuyuki; Takahashi, Fumio -
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Volume 11,
Number 2, March 2006 , pp. 421-436(16)
- Studies were in Sumatra Indonesia, semiarid region in western Australia,
and southern Kyushu, Japan
- this is the update on their 1999 proposal for CFC - "Carbon Sequestration
by Carbonization and Forestation"
- Growth Promotion
of Tea Trees by Putting Bamboo Charcoal in Soil (2001)
- Australian and New Zealand Biochar
- Research guidelines: NSCSS: Biochar:
Lab Characterization Options
- Eprida (Athens, GA)
- The Eprida process uses some of the hydrogen released in the pyrolysis
process to capture nitrogen and carbon dioxide from the air, converting
nitrogen to ammonium bicarbonate (NH 4 HCO 3) fertilizer inside the pores
of the charcoal
- Company is in US, with partners in China.
- Although the 2006 Nature article says Eprida "builds contraptions
that farmers can use to turn farm waste into biofuel while making char",
the Eprida site in 2008 says "the company is now developing a small-scale
unit..." It appears no actual device is yet available; they
are looking for investors, not customers.
- eGenesis Industries
(Redondo Beach, CA)
- The first Eprida licensee, they are proposing to build a larger version
of the Eprida research machine, at an estimated cost of $4 million, capable
of 1 megawatt/hour, biodiesel, and 400-800 lbs. enriched biochar/day.
- Their FAQ specifically mentions Kaua'i as a proposed site! "Without
utilizing [a] tax credit, the Eprida machine just on energy and sales of
fertilizer should pay itself off in three years in Kauai."
- Biochar Engineering
- They have a research unit, available for early adopters to test.
Input: 400 lbs./hr (200 kg/hr) wood-chips, at approx 20% moisture content.
Operating temperature: 300-600°C, controllable by onboard software
- Newer, larger unit is called the BCE 1000, estimated price is $100k
- The first BCE 1000 unit in the USA went to the "NC Farm Center for Innovation
and Sustainability", who got an NRCS grant for "AA
Field Demonstration of Mobile Torrefaction Technology to Produce Bio-char
and Evaluate its Benefits on North Carolina's Farms"
release on the biochar list,, Oct. 16 2009, says they will use forestry
- Carbonscape (New Zealand / UK)
- 3R-Agrocarbon (Sweden)
- technology consists of an indirectly heated and continuously operated
rotary kiln, powered by gas or electricity
- industrial scale from 1000 m3/year (roughly 500 kg/day) throughput up
to 30,000 m3/year
- the feedstock is milled down small (<5mm) and it takes around 1 hour
to go through the reactor
- there is a demo/test plant in West Hungary
- they are licensing the technology
- All Power Labs
(Biochar Experimenter’s Kit) (Berkeley, CA)
- A small kit for experimenters, $5000.
- "Supports multiple pyrolysis process modes in direct combustion
(updraft, TLUD and stratified downdraft), indirect combustion retort,
and sweep gas through bed heat transfer. Temperature, residence time,
and ramp rate are similarly controlled by the user, with instruments
ports and thermocouples provided to monitor the results."
- Robert Flanagan
- one reference says, "an entrepreneur working in China, is developing
a small, village-level pyrolysis unit"
- article Oct. 2007:
Flanagan's Biochar Stove: Carbon Negative Cooking
- He worked with Eprida in Georgia, then in Hangzhou China, where he was
involved with a company called SAFFE. (gone as of 2010?)
- Notes about his stove are below.
- Carbon Char Group, LLC
- from the US east coast, a team of researchers and engineers trying to
get char out to a wide audience
- they claim to sell char ("CharGrow" brand name) and have already done
research in 2008 to demonstrate effects
- their site is full of good charts and references on the subjects of
char and sequestration
- Biofuel Energy Systems
- a charcoal production plant that also generates heat and electricity
from the by-product gas
- Biochar Machine from
Victory Gasworks (Toledo, WA?)
- a $3000 machine which apparently uses propane to pyrolyse any biomass,
even wet stuff
- It doesn't say anything about how it works or how much propane... so
it might be rather carbon positive, although it does address that point
Ditch the propane & power with woodgas by offering a separate unit (starts
at $5000) that uses wood chips
machine (Brazil / Paris)
- 4-5 tons/day, far too big for a farm
- Crucible Carbon (Australia)
- They have an experimental pyrolysis unit, but their website doesn't
talk about it yet (July 2009)
- "Pyrolysis process is designed to produce biochar, biocrude oils, and
pyrolysis gas from a variety of biomass sources at low capital cost and
(Biomass Energy Solutions and Technology / BEST Pyrolysis, Inc.)
- Based in Victoria, Australia (US office in Madison, Wisconsin?)
- They built some small test char-producing units in 2004-2007, but it
now appears they're focused on big sites, like 2 tons/hour.
- Outback Biochar (Australia)
- as of April 2009, they are offering large quantities of biochar made
from rice husk
- Black is Green Pty Ltd, mobile "patented fast rotary hearth technology"
fits on a truck, claims 1 ton/hour of biomass, which is 250-300kg of char
per hour (a yield of 25-30%)
- Their unit, the BiGchar 2200, is sold or leased on a 48 month fully
serviced contract in Australia
- They also sell the char itself (in Australia) for A$2000 per tonne (around
US$1,867/tonne, $1.87/kg, around $.85/lb as of Nov. 2009)
- The char is distributed through Renewable Carbon Resources Australia
(RCRA) who will retail the BiGchar product and market the equipment in Queensland
- Alterna Energy Inc.
- office is in Prince George, BC, demonstration plant in McBride, BC
- "Our business plans are to provide such material to promote the agricultural
applications of biocarbon. We have been active in supplying biocarbon for
government-sponsored field testing in Australia."
- Agri-THERM Ltd. (Canada)
- based in Ontario, trying to produce a portable clean pyrolysis machine
- as of 2009, it says "units are not yet available for sale, however we
anticipate active sales in 2009"
- as of 2010, they announced: "first sale of the Agri-Therm mobile
pyrolysis unit to the government of Mexico, though the University of
Vera Cruz, for $1 million."
- Big project: Biochar Fund
www.re-char.com has a project in Kenya
- "Rutuba/Climate Kiln Version 2.0. The kiln is the only mass-produced
biochar kiln in the world that can be ordered online with one click."
- July 2012: "re:char has been able to reach over 750 farmers in 30
villages in Kenya’s Western District"
- Landscape Ecology
(Kapoho, Puna, Big Island)
- as of December 2009, Josiah Hunt is producing local biochar using a
"hybrid of a bonfire and a traditional charcoal pit method"
- Available in Hilo (e.g. at Garden Exchange) and in Kea'au and wholesale
- Retail prices is approximately $22.50 per cubic foot for 1/2" minus.
Wholesale prices are $300 per yard for 2" minus and $350 per yard for 1/2
" minus, inoculation by compost tea is an extra $20 per yard cost.
- Whispering Winds Bamboo
- They are an organic bamboo nursery with a small timber operation and
small staff, since 2003. Their blog was very active from January
to November 2010, when it suddenly stopped.
October 2011, they were awarded by USDA NRCS:
- "funds to convert bamboo timber
waste to bio-char using a farm-scale Adams retort kiln. [..] This
project will prove that installing appropriately sized farm based
charcoal kilns can be cost effective, income generating and
fertility enhancing to a farm operation."
- As of March 2012, there is no mention of biochar from them (not blog
How best to make it, on the scale of a small farm?
Charcoal (Daniel O'Connor of Twin Oaks Forge) has pictures for step-by-step.
- But it is still a lot of mess for a backyard or farm, and involves
serious construction including welding.
- In spring 2009, Kelpie Wilson in Oregon built one like that, using a
single drum (see
biochar). It worked well once they used very dry wood cut into
small pieces, and only cost $365 to build.
More pictures of Kelpie's kiln, with step-by-step descriptions
- Two-drum approach
- Single chamber kiln
- A classic FAO document is
for charcoal making
- describes how to build and operate a charcoal kiln as an earthen
pit, earthen mound, brick kiln, or steel kiln, including the
Brazilian beehive kiln
Make charcoal in your own backyard …with a Portable Charcoal Kiln
- describes a single large metal drum with a huge metal lid, which
looks difficult and dangerous but apparently it's in widespread use
by Gary Gilmore
- basically a one-barrel approach, where part of a second barrel simply
stacks on the first, making a chimney
Make your own BioChar and Terra Preta
- uses one re-sealable drum, with a hole in its side, as a very rough
- Easy Clean
Charcoal in a Barrel by Lee Saunder
- You just load a barrel with wood, vent the bottom, light the
top. It seems hard to believe that it's either easy or clean,
but perhaps with the right wood, and some practice, it could work.
Apparently this produces "strong charcoal for smelting and forging".
- The optimum biochar characteristics seem to result from firing at around
500 degrees C.
- paper is "Temperature effects on C recovery, CEC, pH and surface area"
from Lehmann (2007)
- Apparently, none of the commercially proposed char-production machines (BCE,
Antal's process, Eprida/eGenesis, BEST, Agri-Therm, etc.) will be available for the scale
of a single medium or small farm. They are all aiming for much larger scale.
- Flanagan's small stove
- A one-page
pdf about his charcoal-producing stove.. The stove does not seem
to be actually available in any form, although videos of it are on YouTube.
page calls it the "Flanastove", says to email for more info.
- 2009/3/17: Heard from Flanagan again. The stove did not get funding
so at this point it's just sitting on the shelf. He pointed to a Chinese charcoal kiln that can carbonize 6 tons of biomass
in around 8 hrs.
- Chip Energy Biomass
- $300, ships from Illinois, a gasifying cooking stove that produces some
amount of char
- Looks great! How much would shipping be to Hawaii, i wonder.
- There are other cool small efficient clean-burning wood stoves, such as
the Rocket Stove,, but they do not produce
significant char. e.g. StoveTec,
- A long list of small biomass
cooking stoves is at bioenergylists
New Biochar Stoves at the 2009 ETHOS Conference (January) indicates there
is still nothing but prototypes and experiments
- WorldStove is planning to produce
small and medium-sized char-producing stoves, but not available yet.
(Osaka, Japan, site in Japanese only) makes several clean-burning small
- Charcoal at the bottom
of your garden, anyone?
- article from "Going Organic #73, September-November 2008" by eccentric
Australian Geoff Moxham, main site
- section "Good ways to make charcoal in the firebox and on the farm"
- In Hawaii, Jay (in Puna) has made his own char (see entry
Terra preta do haole in his
- "It's simply a manner of lighting a fire in a barrel full of wood, and
when it gets hot enough choking the air off so you get charcoal and not
ash [...] Having significant char loads in test beds at this
moment I can conclusively declare that the biochar works"
- from a
forum post on 2009-03-22: "Biochar is worth money. [..] I'd buy it.
Really. I make it here but I'd use more. [..] Biochar will cut any farms
fertilizer budget in half, easy. I can't believe it but I have the evidence
now. In fact, I've found that it's really easy with char in the ground to
create toxicity, and you must be very careful. Plants will survive, but
the effect is very much that of over fertilization. Triple 16 is too hot
if you've got char. I was surprised to see that."
- 14-minute audio chat on
Biochar and the Rocket Stove
- 2010: Jay recommends an open fire, adding green wood gradually to contain
the heat and minimize burn / maximize charring. When it's a big pile,
put it all out with water.
- Forum threads:
- 2010 videos: Biochar
in a Food Forest I -
Biochar in a Food Forest
II - Biochar in
a Food Forest III
My own kiln/retort (May 2010)
classic pit method seems to work well, but there is some criticism on the
biochar list of open
burns, saying that emissions aren’t fully combusted and carbon yield is low,
recommending a kiln or even better, a retort (closed “cooking vessel”).
- In April 2010 i looked at plans online and found two main approaches, the
as built by Kelpie in Oregon. The first approach is too small a batch and
requires multiple drum sizes, the second requires expensive metalwork including
pipes and welding. I came up with a hybrid of the two approaches which should
be cheap, simple and high yield.
- Blog posts:
Biochar retort, experimental design, first trial run /
Biochar kiln progress
- Status as of June 2010:
- Summary: It's fairly efficient and clean. It works. But, a 55
gal. drum can make 23 lb of char per batch (one day). That's not very
much, and it takes over 2 hours of labor. It also gets too hot for the
wall blocks, so they break frequently.
- Other experimenters report: "I built a 30 gallon steel retort.
I can make about 15 lbs of char per batch. I allow a day per
batch." This is very similar in lbs/gallon, and time, to my own retort.
- Since the retort had issues, i looked for a way to get larger capacity and
fewer parts to wear out. The idea: a pit lined with concrete blocks, which
can be covered with a piece of sheet metal and soil. The blocks make a
hard flat surface that's easy to unload, and cleanly separate the char from
- It works surprisingly well. As with
jaywfitz's method, wood is added gradually, the pile builds up and the bottom
is oxygen-starved so it pyrolyzes. When the pit is full, it is covered
and left for a day to cool down. The next day, there is some incompletely-charred
wood at the top of the pile, but this is not a problem, it's simply put aside
and added to the next burn.
- No water is needed to control or put out the fire.
- Because temperature never gets that high at the walls, the blocks don't
- It's less picky about the size and shape of the wood, because an open fire
is simpler than packing a retort.
- It's difficult to judge how much ash is present (and hence the level of
efficiency due to consumed feedstock), but it doesn't look like much ash at
all. In fact it's likely more efficient than the retort, in which the
~50% of the wood which is outside the retort is burned to ash.
- A small pit of 16 x 24 x 32" (7.11 ft3,
53.2 gallons, ~200 liters)
yields around 16-17 gallons (loose chunks) of char. It takes 33 CMU blocks
to build. It took 40 minutes to load, fire and cover. The next day,
it took 55 minutes to uncover, unload, and sift/sort the result using screen
frames into 1/4"-, 1/4-1/2", and 1/2"+.
- I estimated it should be possible for this approach to scale up significantly, and it
does. See blog post
Biochar: from kiln to pit.
On 2010-07-25, i got 82 gallons of char from a 160-gallon pit.
Crushing / Sifting
- The pit method produces char in all sizes, from fist-sized down to dust.
For agriculture, this needs to be broken down, to 1-inch for large plants or
1/2"-minus for general crops.
- Doing this
- Drying is important in a kiln: If you use green wood, you will use a lot
of energy just driving off the water.
- Does the type of wood matter much? Could we use the abundantly fast-growing
species around here - guava, eucalyptus? A classic 1963
document on Eucalyptus robusta says it's a hardwood with most properties
similar to other good trees, so: Yes.
Some commercially available biochar
||basic retort: 105 liters
Seasons Charcoal Retort
||basic retort: cylinders, 6ft long by 3ft 4 inches, together ~250kg
||£17,500 (+17.5% vat)
|200 kg of biomass per hour to produce 50 kg char
|| ~$100k-200k ?
|200 kg of biomass per hour to produce 50 kg char
||Redondo Beach, CA
Summary of commercially available char in the USA
||typical activated charcoal
|SunGro "Black Gold"
|Quarter Acre Orchids
||5 gallons (~9 lbs.)
||$48.75 + $14.95 shipping
||$150, includes shipping
||"inoculated with soil food web microbes and
||"inoculated with beneficial soil microbes and
|~$2.20 - $6.80
||San Rafael, CA
||sold by volume.
pre-charged with something; site doesn't say what
||27 lbs. / 6.43 gal.
||Price is mailed; could be less locally.
||1/2 cu ft
||San Diego, CA?
||1 cu. ft (~10lb dry weight)
||sold by volume (damp) not by weight
|typical cooking charcoal
||throughout the USA, e.g. Lowes
+ S/H etc.
Biochar Xtra (VBX)
is also 7-3-7 fertilizer
||90 L (~18.7kg,
||122 lb drums
||West Lorne, ON
|"the brand the USDA is shipping to test sites
around the country"
|Black Earth Products
||"This Product is not yet available."
||to be announced?
not on website
||price reported on biochar list
||"IN STOCK AND AVAILABLE NOW!" but not actually?
Testing of Char
- Internationally, there are various sources that can be found on Alibaba.com,
search for agricultural charcoal
- generally these are for very bulk orders, e.g. 12 Metric Ton, 1 x 20ft
- comment on biochar list: "I suspect that many on alibaba are not for
real ... If my experiences are any indication of reality, you place the
order and they raise the money and build the production facility, with your
LC as collateral."
- Density of charcoal
- one number given is 208 kg/m3. 1 gallon is
0.0037854 m3 or 0.13368 cubic feet.
So, 0.7873 kg/gallon, 1.7357 lbs/gallon, 0.86785 lbs/2qt. One liter
is .001 m3, so that's 208g/L.
- 1 (cubic foot) = 0.0283 cubic meters, so that's 5.9 kg/ft3, or
- another figure from Tom Miles on biochar list is 16 lb/ft3, 125 ft3/ton
or 430 lb/cy. That's ~256 kg/m3, so that similar to the 208 value
- at the density of 208 kg/m3, one ton of charcoal is around 4 m3.
A 20' shipping container (~33 m3) would contain around 8 tons of charcoal.
- That density is for solid charcoal. If you have bags of broken
charcoal, then you must account for the volume of air as well. E.g.
a cubic foot of solid charcoal would be 13-16 lbs, but a ft3 of broken char
might contain only 8-10 lb of char by mass.
- In July 2010, Tom Miles used the figure of 8-12 lb/ft3,
so for an average, 10 lbs/ft3
- In August 2010, i measured my own crushed biochar, perfectly dry,
sifted to 1/2"-minus, settled firmly into a 5-gallon bucket. It
weight just under 3 kg, for a density of 9.8
- A higher figure comes from Josiah Hunt, who reports: "18
lbs/ft3 when oven-dried overnight at 205 oF"
- Aztec Wonder says it is 27 lbs/ft3, or "6.43
- US government
as a Pyrolysis Byproduct (pdf) from the Jan. 2008 Harvesting Clean Energy
- by: Hal Collins, USDA ARS, Prosser, WA
Vision: A Win–Win–Win Scenario for Simultaneously Producing Bioenergy,
Permanently Sequestering Carbon, while Improving Soil and Water Quality
- by: David Laird, USDA ARS, National Soil Tilth Laboratory, Ames,
- October 28, 2008 -
Evaluate CQuest™ Biochar (from Dynamotive)
- Active biochar researcher: Dr. Jeff Novak, Research Soil Scientist,
USDA-ARS-CPRC, Florence, SC
- as of May 2009, was doing a 12 week study examining the effects
of 9 different biochars on soil fertility, physical, and microbiological
- History of agricultural coal, before biochar
- The research of Siegfried Marian on the benefits of carbon incorporation,
as reported in Leonard Ridzon and Charles Walters’ The
Carbon Connection and
The Carbon Cycle, led to the development of Ridzon’s NutriCarb product
(made from bituminous coal, no longer being produced), which claimed agricultural
benefits very similar to those claimed for terra preta.
- Folke Gunther:
for everybody: decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide, earn money and improve the
- James Lovelock:
Education resources for spreading the word
- The Winona Farm put most of the
best biochar videos on
one page, a great starting point for beginners
- Australian video,
Agrichar – A solution
to global warming?, 2007, 11 minutes, streamable online but not downloadable.
Wrote them about it, and they said it is downloadable but not here (geo-blocked
to Australia) and orderable (around us$61!).
- BBC documentary,
of El Dorado, 2002
- Honolulu Advertiser,
Biomass to charcoal in a flash, 2007-07-28, 90 seconds, Dr. Antal's briefly
describes his flash process and how it could be a clean energy source for Hawaii.
Doesn't mention agricultural use.
- National Geographic's
Explorer: Lost Cities of the Amazon (2009) is a dramatization of the history
of terra preta. The first 5 minutes are online. Related online article:
Superdirt Made Lost Amazon Cities Possible
- Charcoalab is a cool small program
to give kids hands-on education with char and growing plants
- currently in small pilot program, not yet generally available
Roof top Experiments - TP and water
- shows a very simple, easy exercise for any age group
Biochar Offers Answer for Healthy Soil and Carbon Sequestration is a good
Biochar Fund Congo Project, good video, July 2011
Char in Hawaii
- Is there perhaps a source or site for charcoal production anywhere in Hawaii?
- On 2008/3/10, wrote Dr. Antal and Dr. Uehara (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- On 3/20, wrote Dr. Steiner and Dr. Deenik (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- On 3/20, called Carbon Diversion (Oahu), talked to Chris. He says
they're looking at the potential of biochar projects here on the Big Island.
- 3/21 Emailed Robert Flanagan, asking if his char-producing cook stove is
available in any form.
- 3/22, 3/24 Heard back from Dr. Antal, he just returned from a lecture tour
in NZ. He says he and Dr. Uehara have written many proposals for Terra
Preta research which have been unfortunately not funded.
- 3/24 Heard from Kelpie Wilson in Oregon, who has a Flanagan char stove prototype.
- 3/25 Spoke with Chris Venn of Carbon Diversion (CDI). He says they
are considering projects in 3 places around the island, that they are near completion
on a larger processing plant, should be more news soon.
- 3/28 Heard from Dr. Uehara, who says:
- "We are now conducting additional studies to understand how and why
volatile matter depresses plant growth. We hope to have some answers
by the end of this summer.
- The charcoal produced by CDI has been consistently low in volatile matter
content so its charcoal should not cause any problems."
- 3/28 Wrote Flanagan again at his other address.
- 4/3 Visit from Michael Lurvey of CDI here on my farm. No new info,
no availability of char from them.
- 4/14 Contact from Flanagan: keeping fingers crossed on progress of char-making
stove to be built in China.
- He recommends looking into Indian company
Ankur Scientific which makes
gasifiers at good prices. Ankur doesn't mention char on their website
but they could configure a unit to produce it along with the energy.
- Ankur: they possibly charge about $140k for a 500Kg/hr unit that will
produce about 300kW electric power
- 2008/6/19 heard from CDI again
- 2009-January: CDI is no longer licensing Dr. Antal's "Flash Carbonization".
- They claim to have an "expanded" technology they are calling "the CDI
- They have a new partner, Mantria,
a company from Tennessee/Philadelphia that was previously into real estate
From garbage to gas masks $20M plant to transform nutshells into activated carbon
- plant to be in Kawaihae, company is Big Island Carbon, LLC, 75-5722
Kuakini Hwy., Suite 202 · Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (808) 769-5100. Construction
to begin March 2009, "could be open by end of 2009"
- CEO Rick Vidgen, email@example.com
- Wrote on 3/10. They are not using "CDI Carbonization™".
They have their own two-step process (carbonize, then activation) and only
(for now) plan to sell to high-end activated charcoal market
- 2009/3/9 CDI press release
Hawaii Island Community Leaders Launch Restoration and Energy Project
- apparently the intention is to do something with the gorse on Mauna
Kea, although the announcement doesn't say what, or how, or when, or if
it's past the idea stage
- A Hawaiian nonprofit, ‘Oiwi Lokahi O Ka Mokupuni O Keawe, is involved.
They are based in Waimea, connected with DHHL. Ed Stevens is their
- 2009/4/30 updates on UH
Bruce Mathews relates that there are "a few small Puna-based farmers
that are doing some of their own experiments".
Arancon is a new plant scientist interested in biochar and possible
incorporation with vermicomposting.
Bill Steiner is
also interested in biochar, looking at research proposals and growers, possibly
with inexpensive kilns.
- 2009/6/14: rumor, Kingsford Charcoal's head process engineer said:
- they were going to the Clorox marketing department with their plans
for development [using their license of UH Antal's flash carbonization]
- 2009/9/29: CDI is
taken over by its shareholders, the Mantria people (Knorr, Wragg). They
dismiss the previous president and CEO Michael Lurvey.
- 2009/11/16 the
SEC charges Mantria with violating the antifraud and offering registration
provisions of the securities laws
- 2009/11/17 more details:
Ponzi scheme entangled Waipahu firm
- "Lurvey said after the takeover, Mantria executives
closed down Carbon Diversion’s office in Waipahu and shipped all of its
assets and equipment — including its proprietary biogenerators and processors,
computers and office supplies — to the Mainland."
- Meanwhile, Lurvey has launched a new company called
Carbon Bio-Engineers Inc. to market the biogenerator technology
he holds a patent for. “We decided that Carbon Diversion had become so tarnished
by these people and that it would take us years to get clear its name,”
Lurvey said. “We want to move forward under a new corporation that’s totally
- The new site: http://www.carbonbio-engineersinc.com/
- biochar-list is
a general group for the whole world, high-traffic
is a specific group for Hawai'i, started June 2009
Applying to the Soil: How Much?
- From Chapter 12 of 'Biochar for Environmental Management', application rates
for testing seem to have been in the range of 5 to 30 tonnes/hectare, which
is .5 to 3 kg per square meter. The well-known early Colombia tests applied
at 20 tonnes/hectare.
- In Growth Promotion
of Tea Trees by Putting Bamboo Charcoal in Soil (2001), they used very little:
.5 kg m-2 or .1 kg m-2 each year for 5 years.
- Sean K. Barry on the biochar list reports that while 10 tonnes/hectare is
a common value, he gets good results with 37 tonnes/hectare (3.7 kg/m2)
- Effects of Varied
Soil Composition on the Growth of Radish Starts shows best results at around
33% char, for soil without much sand. However, it is a potted test may
not generalize well to actual crops in a field.
- Some biochar addition has been measure by percent (mass or volume) - how
does that relate?
- A percent isn't meaningful without a depth. For example,
in the Steiner tests in the Amazon, they used "10% and 20%" char, but they
used a lysimeter with a depth of 10cm. To bring 10cm of soil to 10%
char by volume: the soil has a volume of .1 m3/m2, char needed is .01 m3/m2,
which has mass 2.2kg.