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Biochar Kilns

  1. Biochar Maker (
      Peter Hirst shows how to make biochar in 30 pound batches with minimal complex carbons released into the air. 08-09

  2. Biochar Production (
      Discusses the steps needed in making consistently good biochar with minimal pollution. Also discusses strengths and weaknesses of different gasifiers. 12-10

  3. Estufa Finca Cookstove Gasifier (
      Describes how to build and use a simple cookstove designed to reduce black carbon in the atmosphere. States that 3 billion people now cook their food using open fires fueled by wood. 12-11

  1. -Basic Biochar Kiln Designs and Efficiencies (
      Provides designs. 12-14

  2. -Biochar Companies and Organizations (
      Provides a list, current in 2012. 12-14

  3. -Efficiency of Different Types of Kilns (
      Provides information on yields and air emissions from different types of kilns and similar information. For example, pyrolytic char produces over 1600 pounds of stored carbon per acre per year compared to 1200 pounds of carbon storage from no-till switchgrass and less than 100 pounds from plow-tilled corn. 05-11

  4. -How to Make Biochar from a Pile of Wood and Brush (
      "The process is simple. Start a fire in the big fire ring and keep adding brush. As the wood burns, it turns to charcoal which falls to the bottom. More wood is added over this to prevent oxygen from getting to the hot coals. After several hours of adding brush, the fire ring is full of charcoal which is extinguished with water." 12-14

  5. -How to Make a Biochar Kiln (
      "There is a chimney built into the lid. The lid does not sit flush on the kiln, but there is a gap between the lid and the kiln. The draft created by the chimney sucks secondary air into the chimney, where it gets mixed with the pyrolysis gas to burn it." 05-09

  6. -Pyramid Pile Open Burn Biochar Kilns (
      "Open burning is often the only economically viable way to dipose of this woody debris, but nobody likes all the smoke it generates"

      "The essence of the clean biochar burn technique is this: contrary to what you may have learned in Scouts, light your burn pile from the top, not the bottom." 12-14

  7. Biochar Kilns: Diagrams (
      "Pyrolysis systems use kilns and retorts and other specialized equipment to contain the baking biomass while excluding oxygen. The reaction vessel is vented, to allow pyrolysis gases to escape. Pyrolysis gases are often called 'syngas'. The process becomes self-sustaining as the syngas produced is combusted, and heat is released."

      "There are two types of pyrolysis systems in use today: fast pyrolysis and slow pyrolysis. Fast pyrolysis tends to produce more oils and liquids while slow pyrolysis produces more syngas." 09-09

  8. Biochar Kilns: How They Work (
      "PYROLYSIS systems produce biochar by baking biomass largely in the absence of oxygen. The process can become self-sustaining as the syngas produced is combusted, releasing heat. There are two types of pyrolysis systems in use today: fast pyrolysis and slow pyrolysis. Fast pyrolysis tends to produce more oils and liquids while slow pyrolysis produces more syngas. Biochar production is optimized in the absence of oxygen." 08-09

  9. Biochar Production (Global-Warming-Arclein)
      "This posting by A. Karve at the terra preta/biochar forum brings fresh practical insight to the task of producing biochar in the field." 05-09

  10. Biochar Production (
      "Biochar production processes utilize cellulosic biomass such as wood chips, corn stover, rice and peanut hulls, tree bark, paper mill sludge, animal manure and most urban, agricultural and forestry biomass residues." 05-09

  11. Biochar-Related Companies (
      Provides a list of companies that have interests in biochar. 08-09

  12. Biomass Drying (
      Provides guidelines for drying biomass. 06-09

  13. Biomass-Fed, Factory-Built Gasifiers (
      Provides 10kw and 20kw units at $1 - $2 per watt. Awesome Library does not endorse this product but provides it as an example. 08-12

  14. Comparison of Costs of Fuels (
      Provides a comparison. 12-10

  15. How to Make Biochar Using a 55-Gallon Drum (
      "Charcoal has been used as a fuel for at least 3,500 years. In modern times most people think of charcoal as something bought in a bag and used for barbecues. The best charcoal is the kind that you make yourself, however."

      Editor's Note: If the fuel is chopped or shredded properly, it can be used as biochar to enhance the soil. A forumula of half compost and half biochar is generally recommended so that the biochar has nutrients from the beginning when it is spread into your soil. 08-12

  16. How to Make Biochar in Your Yard (
      "Biochar, a charcoal produced by slow-burning plants, enhances the nutrients within soil, creating a rich growing environment. While you can purchase biochar from gardening supply stores, it is not difficult to make from home."

      Editor's Note: A forumula of half compost and half biochar is generally recommended so that the biochar has nutrients from the beginning when it is spread into your soil. 08-12

  17. How to Make a Charcoal Kiln (
      "These small kilns may not process much wood in one go but are quick and easy to build, transport and use." 05-09

  18. How to Make a Kiln, Iwasaki-Type (
      "In making charcoal, the bamboo or wood that becomes charcoal is steamed. If the flame is made stronger, or a large quantity of air is supplied, the fire from the firewood chamber will spread to the carbonization chamber and the bamboo or wood will burn instead of becoming charcoal. Please keep in mind that with exception of the last phase, the bamboo or wood becomes charcoal by steaming." 06-09

  19. Hybrid TLUD and Rocket Cook Stoves (
      "PlanetStove was designed to use locally purchased firewood, so unlike other available biochar-producing stoves, ours does not require villagers to re-cut their wood."

      "The PlanetStove is a hybrid. It is a fully functional TLUD, but since a TLUD stove sometimes only burns for an hour, we added a door making it similar to a “Rocket Stove”, a more traditional high-efficiency stove being used in development work. The benefit of this hybrid is that once there's no gas left in wood, villagers can add as more wood. This allows a family to cook for hours, even once the initial gasification is complete." 09-12

  20. Inexpensive, Home-Built Biochar Kilns, the Adam-Retort (
      Produces about one metric ton of biochar a week and burns/recycles the syngas produced. 06-09

  21. Kilns (
      "Kilns are thermally insulated chambers, or ovens, in which controlled temperature regimes are produced. They are used to harden, burn or dry materials." 06-09

  22. Kilns for Charcoal (
      "The metal kiln could easily be fabricated locally at a low cost as it can be made from empty oil barrels which can be purchased in Kassala market. A manufacturing instruction list and technical drawings have been made to help with its dissemination. The charcoal makers were very happy with the metal kiln, particularly regarding ease of operation and the time it saved. The quality of charcoal was also reported superior to that produced from earth-mound kilns."

  23. Kilns for Charcoal (
      Provides 8 foot diameter round kilns for around $1,740. Made in England.

      Awesome Library does not endorse these products but provides them as an example. 06-09

  24. Kilns for Charcoal (
      "Built by Moses Byrne in 1869 to supply charcoal for the iron smelting industry in Utah, these conical limestone kilns measure 30 feet across and 30 feet high. Only three of the original 40 kilns remain. It was estimated that during 1873, the kilns could produce 100,000 bushels of charcoal."

  25. Lucia Cook Stove (IBI.ogr)
      "Biochar advocates at the conference were very intrigued with the Lucia stove invented by entrepreneur Nat Mulcahy of WorldStove. Mulcahy is an industrial designer who has thrown himself into the project of bringing a sophisticated, high performance biomass stove to mass markets worldwide. Contrary to the approach of many stove designers who search for designs that can be easily manufactured in poor countries, Mulcahy wondered what could be accomplished using advanced manufacturing technology. He found that metal injection molding allowed him to make a burner with a swirl pattern resulting in highly efficient combustion and heat transfer. When used with a fan, the stove can be operated in a pyrolysis mode that produces charcoal. You can see his pyrolysis demonstration at the WorldStove YouTube channel." 12-13

  26. Makers of Biochar (
      Provides a list of manufacturers, including a description of each. 06-09

  27. Portable Charcoal Kilns (
      Provides kilns. Located in Singapore. 05-11

  28. Requirements for Biochar Production (
      "When the possibility of USDA/Rural Development funding for fabrication of a farm-scale retort (an Adam-Retort fabricated by New England Biochar, LLC) presented itself, NESFI requested that MassDEP provide formal guidance on pyrolysis system requirements. The result was the “MassDEP Interim Requirements for the Installation and Operation of Biochar/Charcoal Production Units,” a document approved and signed by Assistant Commissioner James Coleman on 11/30/2010. Essentially an expanded articulation of the May 2010 communication, the document specifies thresholds for energy input (expressed in MMBtu/hour) and air contaminant emissions – sufficient to enable design and fabrication of a farm-scale retort (Adam-Retort) that can meet MassDEP regulatory concerns."

      "Throughout the process, it has become apparent that communication between MassDEP and the NESFI/PVBI has proven pivotal in achieving an interim regulatory framework. The value of this achievement is that all parties now posses a clear understanding of what is allowed, what is not allowed, and which regulations apply to a variety of scales of biochar production equipment. Notably, the November 2010 document issued by MassDEP contains specific references for determining the thresholds for compliance on the air emission limitations without resorting to cost-prohibitive stack testing of individual devices."

      "Based on the experiences of the group in New England, it is recommended that if you are operating a pyrolysis unit anywhere in the United States and have questions regarding your area's environmental requirements in regard to biochar production/utilization, you should contact the local Department of Environmental Protection for more information. It may be that your local DEP will also be starting this process from a zero baseline, as in Massachusetts, but by working with your DEP you can help to foster a positive dialogue and lay the groundwork for additional adoption and uptake of relevant guidance in other states." 04-11

  1. Argentine Brick Kiln (
      "Before discharging the charcoal, when the kiln is sufficiently cool, sufficient water must be available to avoid re-ignition when opening the door of the kiln. One drum of about 200 litres is sufficient for one kiln. The kiln is discharged by two or three men. The charcoal is conveniently removed from the kiln with a special fork known as a stone fork. It has 12-14 teeth and a tooth spacing of 0.02 m. This allows the bulk of the fines (less than 20 mm) to fall through and remain in the kiln. The charcoal is placed on a 1.2 m square piece of canvas and carried by two men out of the kiln." 07-09

  2. Building a Dome-Shaped Kiln (
      "The free-standing dome approach has a number of advantages. It is a relatively easy and very time-efficient method, which we think is within the skill set of someone who is ready to build a brick oven. Additionally, because the brickwork is accessible from the inside the entire time the dome is being built, it is possible to continually check the dome for the accuracy of the brick laying at all times. You can continually clean the inside of the dome brickwork, which will result in a better-looking end product." 07-09

  3. Earth Mound Kiln (
      "The charcoal iron industry of Sweden (2, 23) brought the design and operation of large mound type furnaces to a high stage of perfection. The main improvements were the use of an external chimney connected to a flue constructed beneath the pile and adoption of a circular ground plan for the pile which reduced heat loss during carbonization and improved gas circulation." 07-09

  4. Making Charcoal and Biochar Using a Pit (
      "To produce approximately 10 000 tons per year will need 28 teams each of 5 builders and 2 burners."

      "Total = 196 men and 1,680 pits must be made and burned each year."

      The cost would be $70 per ton to make charcoal. 07-09

  5. Making Charcoal in a Brick Kiln Compared to a Metal Drum (
      Provides clear directions and pictures. "Retort" means that a pipe moves the gases from the top of the barrel to the bottom so that the syngas created is used by the kiln to power it--while burning off the gas. 07-09

  6. Making Charcoal in an Adam-Retort Brick Kiln (
      "It makes sense to introduce the “adam-retort” at forest projects or other areas which cultivate wood energy plantations. The farmers are more motivated to plant energy trees because the wood gets a higher economic value because of an about doubled recovery rate for the charcoal! Its also recommended to use the “adam-retort” as well in areas where sustainable trees exist. This is the case in many areas of East- and South Africa where the Lelechwa wood grows." 08-09

  7. Making Heat-Resistent Kiln Bricks (
      "It is important to note that it is easily possible to improve the capability of a kiln to reach higher temperatures, simply by enclosing it, sealing it against a lot of heat loss. Next we need to consider that the biggest cost of kilns is the high tech bricks so widely believed to be necessary. But the reality is that in brick production the simple addition of common 'creek sand' to a common, red firing earthenware clay, plus sawdust, can be easily undertaken by those who are in the business of producing building brick. This will give a heat resistant brick for kiln construction, at little additional cost to that of ordinary building brick."

      "In practice, in making the brick it may be a good idea to use 75% clay to 25% creek sand, then whatever amount of sawdust, whether hard brick or insulating."

      "And sawdust, at about 60 mesh, can be burned out, leaving voids in the brick. Sawdust can contribute greatly to an insulating brick, cutting fuel costs and as an aid to environmental responsibility." 07-09


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