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Biomass and Biochar

Biochar Advocacy
Biochar Economics
Biochar Fuel
Biochar Kilns
Biochar Methods
Biochar Purchase
Biochar Scalability
Biochar Soil
Biochar Stoves
Biochar from Forest Residue
Biofuels from Microbes
Biomass Advocates
Biomass Coproduction
Biomass Pellets
Biomass Programs
Carbon Markets and Standards
Forest Waste
Soil Carbon Sequestration
Use of Waste for Biochar

Also Try
  1. Biomass as a Fuel
  2. Carbon Sequestration
  3. Perennial Grasses for Fuel
Go To
  1. Global Warming
  1. -The Biochar Story and Next Steps ( star
      Talks about biochar, the next stage in climate action. "A concise breakdown of '2012 US Biochar Conference' along with corresponding visuals to illustrate the vast potential of Biochar as a solution to climate change, desertification and the global food crisis." 02-15

  1. -01 Myths that Make Climate Disruption Inevitable (Awesome Library)
      "Myth #4: Most of the carbon dioxide going into the air each year is the result of burning fossil fuels." 11-14

  2. -Biochar Is Needed to Slow Climate Change (Alliance for Democracy and EDI) star
      "What we need to do is rather simple in concept: We need to keep a portion of CO2 that is stored in biomass from being released back into the air each year. If we can store more CO2 than is being released into the air by burning fossil fuels, we have a good chance of avoiding the worst of climate change. The net result will be less total carbon emitted into the air each year." 09-09

  3. -Biomass Debate (CNN News)
      "Biomass is a favored form of renewable energy because its generation can be reliably scheduled; the wind and sun can merely be predicted, and not always very well, leading to a need for extensive storage."

      "Now a group in Cambridge, Mass., is mounting a more direct assault on harnessing biomass: the Biomass Accountability Project is trotting out experts in medicine and forestry to argue against such power generators."

      Editor's Note: See Biomass and Biochar. Eight times more carbon is released into the air from the decay of organic waste (biomass) than from burning fossil fuels each year. Pyrolysis of biomass is an effective way to keep the carbon in organic waste from re-entering the air. Pyrolysis of biomass produces biochar and syngas: Biochar can be used to enrich the earth. Syngas can serve as a clean energy source. Pyrolysis of biomass may be our best way to reverse the amount of surplus carbon in the air.

      Biomass should not be burned. Incineration does, in fact, create substantial pollution. Living trees should not be harvested to create biomass; biomass should be composed of crop waste, "beetle kill," and other oranic waste. 07-10

  4. -Climate Change: What We Can Do (Evaluation and Development Institute)
      "Earth's climate became very stable 10,000 years ago, allowing for agriculture for the first time. Our stable climate arose from a balance of three ingredients:

      -Greenhouse gases
      -Ocean currents and
      -Polar ice

      Greenhouse gases provided a stable temperature to allow ocean currents to mix heat and cold around the globe and to maintain a relatively constant amount of polar ice.

      We now have 1/3 more CO2 in the air than we had only 150 years ago--and CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. The extra carbon keeps more heat in the air. The extra heat is absorbed by polar ice, soil, and the oceans. The ice over the Arctic Ocean is expected to be gone during summers within 5-10 years. Instead of ice over the Arctic Ocean reflecting heat, the Arctic Ocean will absorb heat. This will slow the ocean currents even more--they already are slowing because of the change in climate.

      When the ocean currents stop and the Arctic ice melts, we will have a climate catastrophe that can be expected to last thousands of years. Permafrost in Russia and other regions will melt, releasing gigantic amounts of carbon and methane stored in the soil. The release will trigger even more extreme climate."

      "Only one cost-effective solution has been found for quickly reducing the carbon in the air:"

      "Each year we must convert enough biomass (organic waste) into biochar (charcoal) to extract at least 7 gigatons of carbon from the air and place it in our soils." 08-09

  5. -One Last Chance to Save Mankind (
      "For those that don’t know who James Lovelock is here’s the one sentence bio: Originator of the Gaia hypothesis, chemist, did work on atmospheric chlorofluorocarbons which eventually led them from being banned, advocate of nuclear power. Which is to say, that when James Lovelock says humanity only has one chance left not to get annihilated by the effects of climate change in the 21st century, it’s worth shutting up and listening to what the man says." 10-10

  6. -We Can Slow Climate Change With Biochar ( star
      "The natural balance of the earth has always included carbon storage in the plants and soil. The problem is that we have disrupted that balance. We have burned in one century much of the carbon that nature sequestered over millions of years. Coal is almost pure carbon, gathered by plants and sequestered by natural processes. We need to stop burning it!"

      "Carbon-inefficient slash and burn agriculture is practiced by 300-500 million people today. If these people could convert to slash and char methods, we could stop the growth of greenhouse gas in its tracks." 09-09

  7. Biochar (
      "Biochar is charcoal created by pyrolysis of biomass. The resulting charcoal-like material can be used as a soil improver to create terra preta,[1] and is a form of carbon capture and storage.[2] Charcoal is a stable solid and rich in carbon content, and thus, can be used to lock carbon in the soil. Biochar is of increasing interest because of concerns about mitigation of global warming being caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases." 02-09

  8. Biochar Basics ( star
      "Diverting merely 1 per cent of annual net plant uptake into biochar would mitigate almost 10 per cent of current anthropogenic C [carbon] emissions (see Chapter 18). These are important arguments to feed into a policy discussion (see Chapter 22)."

      According to the chart on page 8, humans are responsible for putting 7 gigatons of carbon in the air per year but decomposing organic matter releases 8 times as much carbon into the air each year. Converting a fraction of the decomposing organic matter into biochar to keep it in our soil could be our most powerful route to avoiding catastrophic climate change. Biochar is also very good for our soil and our water supplies. 06-09

  9. Biochar Fertilizer and Biofuel (
      "Soil scientist and author of "Amazonian Dark Earths: Origin, Properties, Management" Johannes Lehmann believes that a strategy combining biochar with biofuels could ultimately offset 9.5 billion tons of carbon per year - an amount equal to the total current fossil fuel emissions. Lehmann also notes that unlike biodiesel and corn ethanol, biochar doesn’t take land away from food production." 05-09

  10. Biochar Fund (
      "The Biochar Fund eradicates hunger, deforestation, energy insecurity and tackles climate change by connecting markets and the cooperative efforts of our farmers. It is important to understand that the problems described are deeply intertwined. Only by tackling their root causes in a systematic and integrated way is it possible to solve them. We do this by generating a unique synergy that interacts with all aspects of the different problems and that is managed by the communities themselves." 05-09

  11. Biochar Might Be That Magical (ABC News)
      "A new study in Nature Communications finds that the world could, in theory, sustainably offset a whopping 12 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions by producing biochar."

      "So for the Nature Communications study, the researchers just looked at the world's supply of crop leftovers: corn leaves and stalks, rice husks, livestock manure, yard trimmings. If virtually all of that biomass was used to make biochar, we could conceivably offset 12 percent of global carbon emissions." 08-10

  12. Biomass for Coal-Fired Power Stations (
      "Consider Dominion Resources: After four years, it revved up a $1.8 billion facility last July that co-fires coal and waste wood, generating 585 megawatts. “The use of low-cost waste coal and biomass will result in the unit having favorable economics, bringing savings to customers,” says David Christian, chief executive of Dominion Generation." 10-14

  13. Biomass: Beyond the Hype (
      "The hype surrounding biochar as a climate change mitigation tool, soil amendment or power source is mesmerizing with promises of miraculous results. Too much talk and not much action, however, has raised doubts about its potential." 09-10

  14. Can Biochar Save the Planet? (
      "Biochar's ability to sequester CO2 has given new urgency to such research. 'Reducing emissions isn't enough — we have to draw down the carbon stock in the atmosphere,' says Tim Flannery, chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council, a consortium of scientists and business leaders linked to next year's United Nations Climate Summit. 'And for that, slow pyrolysis biochar is a superior solution to anything else that's been proposed.' Cornell's Lehmann is even more emphatic. 'If biochar could be massively applied around the globe,' he says, 'we could end the emissions problem in one to two years.' " 05-09

  15. Fact Sheet on Harvesting Forest Biomass (
      Proivdes a glossary of terms, measurement, and terminology 12-14

  16. Food Waste in the U.S. (NBC News)
      "Americans are not cleaning their plates. Instead, they are tossing away 40 percent of their meals – “essentially every other piece of food that crosses our path” – or the equivalent of $2,275 a year for a family of four, according to a new report."

      "Food waste has swelled by 50 percent since the 1970s in this country. A total $165 billion annually in leftovers gets trashed by homeowners and in unsold or unused perishables or scraps dumped by grocers or restaurants, according to research compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council released Tuesday."

      Editor's Note: Food waste may be a significant source of biomass for biochar for enriching soils. 08-12

  17. How Biochar Helps (CNN News)
      "Biochar helps clean the air two ways: by preventing rotting biomass from releasing harmful CO2 into the atmosphere, and by allowing plants to safely store CO2 they pull out of the air during photosynthesis." 05-09

  18. How Much Biochar Do We Need to Counter Fossil Fuels? (
      " 'Any organic matter that is taken out of the rapid cycle of photosynthesis ... and put instead into a much slower biochar cycle is an effective withdrawal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,' says Johannes Lehmann, a soil scientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, who has spent years studying terra preta and biochar."

      "Lehmann and colleagues think that the potential benefits could be huge. Of the more than 60 billion tonnes of carbon taken up annually by photosynthesis, around ten per cent eventually becomes available as agricultural residue such as corn and rice stalks, or forestry residue such as branch and leaf litter, as well as animal waste. If all 6 billion tonnes were put through pyrolysis — the heating process that turns biomass into charcoal — 3 billion tonnes of biochar would be produced every year, reducing atmospheric carbon emissions by the same amount1. That would offset a substantial proportion of the 4.1 billion tonnes of excess carbon dioxide that accumulates annually in the atmosphere."

      "And since biochar manufacture has the added benefit of creating liquid fuel as a useful by-product, there's even greater potential for mitigating climate change than from sequestering CO2 alone. According to Lehmann's calculations, a third of a tonne of biofuel could be produced for every tonne of biomass used. If those biofuels replaced fossil fuels — in transport, for example — it would reduce carbon emissions by an additional 1.8 billion tonnes per year." 06-09

  19. How Much Biochar Will Be Needed to Return to Pre-Industrial Levels of Carbon? (
      "The Earth’s surface area is 51 gigahectares (nice unit!) of which 1.36 gHa are arable (by George M’s figure) - that’s 2.7% of the total. So:"

      "If all the 'excess' carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were converted into carbon and spread across all the earth’s arable lands, there would be 17kg of charcoal per square metre, in a layer 8cm thick."

      "That’s not an unfeasible notion. The Gardening with Biochar FAQ mentions biochar application rates of around 5kg/m2." 08-09

  20. Pyrolysis (
      "Residues of incomplete organic pyrolysis, e.g. from cooking fires, are thought to be the key component of the terra preta soils associated with ancient indigenous communities of the Amazon basin.[1] Terra preta is much sought by local farmers for its superior fertility compared to the natural red soil of the region. Efforts are underway to recreate these soils through biochar, the solid residue of pyrolysis of various materials, mostly organic waste." 05-09

  21. Review of Literature Summary on Biochar (
      "Studies of charcoal from natural fire and ancient anthropogenic activity indicate millennial-scale stability. However, it is difficult to establish the half-life of modern biochar products using short experiments due to the presence of small amounts of labile components, partial oxidation and biotic or abiotic surface reactions. At the moment there is no established method to artificially-age biochar and assess likely long-term trajectories."

      "While biochar surpasses other biological forms of C with regard to its stability, estimates on the mean turnover time of biochar in soil vary from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands of years."

      "Analysis of a limited number of biochar samples has indicated concentrations of toxic combustion products such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are not at environmental risk level." 06-09

  22. Slash and Char Versus Slash and Burn (
      "Switching from slash-and-burn to slash-and-char farming techniques in Brazil can decrease both deforestation of the Amazon basin and carbon dioxide emission, as well as increase crop yields. Slash-and-burn leaves only 3% of the carbon from the organic material in the soil.[48]"

      "Slash-and-char can keep up to 50% of the carbon in a highly stable form.[49] Returning the biochar into the soil rather than removing it all for energy production reduces the need for nitrogen fertilizers, thereby reducing cost and emissions from fertilizer production and transport.[50] Additionally, by improving the soil's ability to be tilled, fertility, and productivity, biochar–enhanced soils can indefinitely sustain agricultural production, whereas non-enriched soils quickly become depleted of nutrients, forcing farmers to abandon the fields, producing a continuous slash and burn cycle and the continued loss of tropical rainforest."


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