Building DIY Gardening


27 Jul, 2010

Biochar – biological charcoal – agrichar – Terra Preta – compost – energy production

Posted by: Geoff Davis In: biochar|Climate change|diy|do it yourself|Energy|garden|gardening|Gardens|Renewable energy|Sustainable power

Today we look at biochar, which could change the way organic waste is got rid of – and also provide useful by products. When I was a child, I used to take potato and vegetable peelings to a big box for the local pigs – this was in a small English town. Nowadays of course all is thrown away. Small scale biochar machines can help localise waste and energy production, along with solar and micro generation.

Biochar machine

Biochar machine

Terra preta (“black earth” in Portuguese) is a sort of enriched soil, dark in color.

Biochar and Terra Preta was first ‘discovered’in the Amazon Basin, where it has been used for over 2000 years.

Local peasant and small farmers and caboclos (mixed race, European and Brazilian Amerindian) in the Amazonian basin.

Biochar is a type of charcoal made by pyrolysis of biomass.
Unlike charcoal it is not burnt for fuel.

Biochar is used as a soil enricher, and as a byproduct, stores carbon that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. Carbon is locked into the soil.

Ever increasing pollution is causing poisonous effects for life on earth. It’s also the reason for Ozone depletion and global warming. Biochar is a fine-grained charcoal made from biomass used mainly for agriculture purposes. It is incredibly helpful in reducing pollution and carbon dioxide effects.

Biochar has been used for over thousands of years and is now getting a lot of attention for its ability to lessen green house gases.

Benefits of Biochar

Biochar is used with soil compost in order to provide rich fertilizer allowing soil to store more carbon in it.
Directly stores carbon that stays in the soil for thousands of years
It helps plants and vegetables absorb more nutrients from the soil

  • Lessens soil acidity and groundwater pollution
  • Biochar speeds up the decaying process in soil
  • Making biochar results in production of a byproduct called bio-fuel which can be a substitute of diesel containing very little amount of carbon dioxide in it.
  • It helps soil retain its nutrients for a longer period of time and lessens need for irrigation.
  • Biochar production requires very little or no oxygen and less emission of carbon dioxide.
  • It provides solution for animal wastes.

Production of Biochar

Biochar is made with waste from plants and agriculture matter called biomass. It is produced through a process known as pyrolysis. A kiln or furnace which needs low or no oxygen to burn with, is filled with organic material like wood, grass, farmyard scraps, animal manure, crop remains and other agricultural waste.

Pyrolysis process starts with heating furnace at 700?C approx and adding organic matter into it. This slowly burning process results in production of three products : one is biochar which has the ability to retain carbon and the other is syngas – which contains carbon monoxide and little amount of carbon dioxide in it and third is bio-fuel.

Biochar, along with byproducts, is then processed in a gasifier through the process of gasification. This produces more refined biochar and bio-fuel. Syngas obtained from gasifier acts as useful energy to power pyrolysis furnace. Most of the carbon produced in the burning process is locked inside biochar therefore there is very less chance of carbon emission in air.

To fight against global warming and harmful gases with simultaneous increase in productivity, biochar is really an economic and environment friendly means to produce nutrient rich fertilizer, equally acting as a trapper for poisonous gases so it must be produced on large scales and governments must emphasize and assist in its production.
(by our bio tech writer)

See also:

Green DIY building advice >

Energy microgeneration >

Wiki biochar >

1 Response to "Biochar – biological charcoal – agrichar – Terra Preta – compost – energy production"

1 | bob dewan

December 21st, 2010 at 7:56 pm


I have read about this in a very good book

“The Biochar Revolution” with “The Biochar Solution”

I want to call this book: “All about Biochar” because “The Biochar Revolution” collects the results and best practical advice that these entrepreneurs have to offer to the biochar community.

Biochar Books
In the book you will read about the challenges of designing low-emissions biochar production systems from small-scale stoves to farm-scale pyrolyzers. Another section of the book is devoted to explaining simple tests to characterize biochar and methods for conducting valid field trials.

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