An Interview with the Founder of Sonoma Biochar Initiative, Plus Char Stoves and Factories in Finland

Happy Biochar Day, everyone. Here is this week’s biochar weekly roundup.

KRCB, a public television network in California, featured a series of interviews with Raymund Gallian, the founder of Sonoma Biochar Initiative. In the interviews, Gillian discusses how important it is to remove carbon from the air and get it back into the ground:

When you think of traditional charcoal, it’s a very dirty process. Plus the end result is used as a fuel which ultimately means that all of that carbon goes back into the air. What we’re trying to do here is get all that carbon out of the air and back in the ground where it belongs. Conceptually, we’ve been doing the opposite for the last 200 years to ill effect: mining carbon from the ground and dumping it into the air and the ocean, which is causing us no end of problems.

Also in the interview, Gallian explains exactly how biochar is made and how it can help all aspects of the environment, especially its impact on the climate. Informative and entertaining! Bonus link: if you’re curious to learn more about Raymund, check out this YouTube video.

Next up, we stumbled upon this blog completely devoted to biochar stoves, lovingly referred to as TLUDs (short for Top Lit Updraft). There are lots of great images that show biochar producing stoves from all stages of construction, and across all countries.

Speaking of TLUD, here is a concise explanation of how a TLUD works. According to that article:

Biochar-producing stoves are not yet a mature technology, and indeed, the emissions from the few designs that have been developed have not yet been systematically tested. However, there are good reasons to believe that they will be as clean as or cleaner than other gasifier stoves that do not retain the biochar but combust it.

This study (pdf) from the end of last year was featured last week on a composting blog. The study discusses how biochar can be used to correct the acidity of soil, which is an important issue in Hawaii where monitoring the pH balance of soil is critically important for crops. Here’s the summary of the study:

Soil acidity is a serious constraint for crop production in many regions of the world, Hawaii included. Liming is the conventional remedy, yet lime is costly and may not be available in some places. Our research showed that biochar, a by-product of bio-fuels production, could replace lime, at least partially, in alleviating soil acidity. A combination of moderate application rates of biochar (e.g., 2 to 4%) with lime (an equivalent of exchangeable acidity or about 2 tons/ha for most Hawaii acid soils) could significantly improve soil quality and increase crop growth.

And here is some interesting news for any readers we may have from Finland: the first biochar factory is being planed for completion in early 2013 in Ristiina, a city in eastern Finland. The factory will cost around 40m euro and will produce around 200,000 tons of biochar per year. According to the article, “Biochar pellets could be used in power plant currently using coal without making major investments and it could replace half of the coal used today. Coal-fired powered power stations are currently operating in six cities in Finland. Helsinki is already preparing to replace its coal power stations with renewable energy.”

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!

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