Thursday, 20 July 2017

Low-Cost Biochar Application in Tanzania Shows Astounding Increases

Bana grass project in Philippines mentions biochar

$10-M bio-charcoal facility to be built in Nueva Ecija

By Robert R. Requintina
Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija – A $10 million bio-charcoal facility will be built here later this year that is expected to be a major source of renewable and sustainable energy, and will provide more employment in the province, according to the MacKay Green Energy, Inc. (MGE).
“It’s European standard. So no emissions,” said MGE Chairman James R. MacKay when asked about the safety of the facility, during ground-breaking ceremonies for the newest plantation in this province recently.
The newly acquired three hectares of land where the new bio-charcoal will be put up is expected to hire more than 1,000 people when completed. “In this facility, you will have charcoal, methane, bio-char, and bio-oil.”
MacKay also said that the energy firm is getting closer to its goal in helping the country become more environment-friendly.
“You don’t have enough biomass in the Philippines. So at some stage, the market will come to a point when it will have to purchase,” MacKay explained.
MGE, he said, has secured the best technologies.
“It has superior qualities to fossil based coal and can be co-fired in existing cola power plants without the need to make drastic changes. It is a key factor for power plants since the Greenhouse Gas Emissions can be directly reduced,” said Mackay.
The whole project will be dedicated to MacKay variety Bana Grass, which is a crop imported by MGE that can be turned into fuel to produce energy.
MacKay said that Bana Grass is a perennial hybrid variety (pennisetum purpureum X pennisetum americanum) which is highly tolerant to drought and typhoons, pest-resistant and is also non-allergic.

FAO Global Soil Partnership Newsletter

Lots of interesting stuff here that overlaps with biochar community interest...

GSP Newsletter 
  July 2017, Issue #12


Global Soil Partnership Newsletter

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

More exciting results from biochar use in Nepal

Biochar-Based Fertilization with Liquid Nutrient Enrichment: 21 Field Trials Covering 13 Crop Species in Nepal


  • This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as doi: 10.1002/ldr.2761


Biochar produced in cost-efficient flame curtain kilns (Kon-Tiki) was nutrient enriched either with cow urine or with dissolved mineral (NPK) fertilizer to produce biochar-based fertilizers containing between 60-100 kg N, 5-60 kg P2O5 and 60-100 kg K2O, respectively, per ton of biochar. In 21 field trials nutrient-enriched biochars were applied at rates of 0.5-2 t ha-1 into the root zone of 13 different crops. Treatments combining biochar, compost and organic or chemical fertilizer were evaluated; control treatments contained same amounts of nutrients but without biochar. All nutrient-enriched biochar substrates improved yields compared to their respective no-biochar controls. Biochar enriched with dissolved NPK produced on average 20% ± 5.1% (N=4 trials) higher yields than standard NPK fertilization without biochar. Cow urine-enriched biochar blended with compost resulted on average in 123% ± 76.7% (N=13 trials) higher yields compared to the organic farmer practice with cow urine-blended compost and outcompeted NPK-enriched biochar (same nutrient dose) by 103% ± 12.4% (N=4 trials), respectively. Thus, the results of 21 field trials robustly revealed that low-dosage root zone application of organic biochar-based fertilizers caused substantial yield increases in rather fertile silt loam soils compared to traditional organic fertilization and to mineral NPK- or NPK-biochar fertilization. This can be explained by the nutrient carrier effect of biochar, causing a slow nutrient release behavior, more balanced nutrient fluxes, and reduced nutrient losses, especially when liquid organic nutrients are used for the biochar enrichment. The results open up new pathways for optimizing organic farming and improving on-farm nutrient cycling.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Biochar for water treatment

Biochar and its importance in adsorption of antibiotic and heavy metals from aqueous solutions

Hesham M. Aly 
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and Fertilizer, Ministry of Agriculture, China-New Zealand Joint Laboratory for Soil Molecular Ecology, Beijing 100081, China, 
Department of Forestry, Horticulture Institute, Agriculture Research Center, Antoniadis Botanical Garden, Alexandria, 21554, Egypt 


This short communication relates to carbon-rich material referred to as biochar. In the subsequent sections, the text presents old and modern methods of production, physiochemical characteristics and miscellaneous applications of biochar in environmental protection, e.g. treatment of contaminated soil and water, as well as in agriculture for soil fertilization. The final part of the text deals with further possible, more extensive use of biochar in these two economic sectors, particularly to create carbon sink for CO2 sequestration in land cultivation, and to remove heavy metals and pharmaceutical compounds from soil and water in environmental protection.

B4SS have been active in Indonesia & Vietnam

Check out B4SS activities in Vietnam and Indonesia.
From: Ruy Korscha Anaya de la Rosa [biochar] 
Date: 13 July 2017 at 16:17
Subject: [biochar] B4SS Adventure Experience in Peru

Starfish's Biochar for Sustainable Soils (B4SS) project is entering its final year and things are getting really exciting. The results of the last 2-3 years of research are coming in and our focus is now shifting to sharing this practical and important knowledge. Check it out and you could win a trip to Peru!

Dr Ruy Anaya de la Rosa
Project Director | Biochar for Sustainable Soils
  a collaboration of Starfish Initiatives
/Inline image 1

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Mayanmar biochar action

Solar Roots take hold in Myanmar's remote corners

"Gardiner’s trainings are not limited to solar power. He also advocates the use of fuel-efficient stoves, in order to cut energy consumption, and biochar, which he says mitigates the effects of climate change.

Since all of the participants live in rural areas and most of them make their living from the land, the Tachileik training included an introduction to biochar.

It’s basically the same as charcoal but instead of being used as a fuel, it is used as a soil component that is rich in carbon. Because of its porous nature, biochar provides an ideal habitat for microorganisms that improve the fertility of soil, as well as increasing water retention.

After a brief introduction to the benefits of biochar, Gardiner took the participants outside to dig a pit and burn some sticks of wood and bamboo that had been chopped into small pieces.

Once the biochar was prepared, he had them prepare layers of sticks, dried leaves, green weeds, manure and urine, to which the biochar was added to form a rich compost. He mentioned that results are not always noticed in the first year after mixing the biochar compost with earth, but from the second year the soil’s increased fertility is evident. It is also particularly effective in dry soils, which are found in many parts of Myanmar."

Monday, 10 July 2017

Low-tech Flame Carbonizers for Biochar Production - webinar

Utah State University, Forestry Extension: Learn at Lunch Webinar

Low-tech Flame Carbonizers for Biochar Production: Theory and Applications
Kelpie Wilson, Wilson Biochar Associates
Date: Tuesday, July 25

Time: 12 pm (
Biochar is made by applying heat to biomass in the absence of oxygen. Flame carbonization uses the flame itself to exclude oxygen. Flame carbonization methods can produce high quality biochar from low value biomass waste found in fields and forests without investing in expensive equipment. Kelpie Wilson will explain the theory and design principles for using flame carbonizing techniques in various applications such as forestry, farming and urban tree care.
This webinar is good (only if viewed live) for 1 CEU from: Society of American Foresters OR International Society of Arboriculture.
Kelpie Wilson is a mechanical engineer and analyst with 30 years of experience in renewable energy, sustainable forestry and resource conservation. Since 2008, she has focused on biochar as a tool to move excess carbon from the atmosphere to soil, where it can improve soil health and sequester carbon. She consults with farmers, private industry, and government agencies through her company Wilson Biochar Associates. She serves on the board of the US Biochar Initiative, works with several local groups in Oregon promoting sustainable forestry and agriculture, and presents many classes and workshops on small scale biochar production and use every year. 

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Great Change: Concrete Solutions

The Great Change: Concrete Solutions: " We want to take the atmosphere back to its pre-industrial chemistry as quickly as possible. For that, we have biocomposites. &q...

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Great Change: Ground Up

The Great Change: Ground Up: " This is where biochar is today in agriculture. Its a better mousetrap in the midst of a huge rodent epidemic and still, most people c...

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Promising pepper production

Biochar potential in intensive cultivation of Capsicum anuum L. (sweet pepper): Crop yield and plant protection


Abhay Kumar, Yigal Elad, Ludmila Tsechansky, Vikas Abrol, Beni Lew, Rivka Offenbach, Ellen R. Graber



The influence of various biochars on crop yield and disease resistance of Capsicum anuumL. (sweet pepper) under modern, high-input, intensive net house cultivation was tested over the course of 2011 to 2014 in the Arava desert region of Israel. A pot experiment with Lactuca sativa L. (lettuce) grown in the absence of fertilizer employed the 3-year old field trial soils to determine if biochar treatments contributed to soil intrinsic fertility.


Biochar amendments resulted in a significant increase in number and weight of pepper fruits over three years. Concomitant to the increased yield, biochar significantly decreased the severity of powdery mildew (Leveillula taurica) disease and broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) pest infestation. Biochar additions resulted in increased soil organic matter but did not influence the pH, electrical conductivity, or soil or plant mineral nutrients. Intrinsic fertility experiments with lettuce showed that 2 of the 4 biochar-treated field soils had significant positive impacts on lettuce fresh weight, and total chlorophyll, carotenoids and anthocyanins content.


Biochar-based soil management can enhance functioning of intensive, commercial, net house production of peppers under the tested conditions, resulting in increased crop yield and plant resistance to disease over several years.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Biochar characteristics and application in the agriculture

Biochar characteristics and application in the agriculture [

Martyna Glodowska, Malgorzata Lyszcz
Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation – State Research Institute, Pulawy, Poland


Recently biochar gained importance as a way to deal with global climate change, by sequestering C into soils, but also as a soil amendment and bioremediation tool. Many studies have demonstrated the positive influence of biochar on soil quality and subsequently, plant growth, although the results are not consistent and climate seems to be the main reason for this inconsistency. Number of studies has been conducted to find out how biochar affect soil characteristic, fertilizers efficiency as well as soil microbiota. The main focus of this review is to discuss biochar features and it application in agricultural practices that could improve soil productivity and in consequence plant growth and development.

1. Introduction 

Biochar, although not in the form we know today, has been used since centuries. The incorporation of charcoal into the soil to enhance soil quality has been an agricultural practice for thousands of years (Xu et al. 2012). Pre-Columbian people were combining charred residues of organic and inorganic wastes with the soils that are known today as Terra Preta - rich in organic matter and nutrients Amazonian soil. The oldest description of charcoal use in agriculture may be from the 17th century Encyclopedia of Agriculture by Yasusada Miyazaki, where he cited an even older textbook from China. We know from there that rice husk charcoal has been used as a soil amendment probably since the beginning of rice cultivation in Asia (Ogava and Okimori, 2010). Nowadays, the term “biochar” refers to a product of biomass pyrolysis, wherein plant-based materials are heated under anaerobic conditions to capture combustible gases. Originally, biochar production was associated with slow pyrolysis, characterized by a long time (more than 10 h) under relatively low temperature, typically around 400°C. More recently, there has been growing interest in biochar production through fast pyrolysis, where the organic materials are rapidly heated to 450-600°C (Xu et al. 2012). The reason why biochar gained public interest is mainly associated with its carbon sequestration ability. Biochar is a promising tool to reduce the atmospheric CO2 concentration because it slows the return of photosynthetically fixed carbon to the atmosphere (Xu et al., 2012). The half-life of biochar in the soil is estimated to range from hundreds to thousands of years (Zimmerman 2010). Therefore, supplying the soil with biochar is a strategy for long-term carbon sequestration. Moreover, there is increasing interest in biochar as a soil amendment. Number of studies has demonstrated that biochar application can significantly improve crop productivity (Chan et al. 2007), improve soil conditions (Xu et al., 2012), and increase the efficiency of fertilizers (Asai et al., 2009), it can also be used in remediation processes (Chan et al., 2012). The main goal of this paper is to review the effect of biochar on soil properties and discuss it use in the agricultural practices.

6. Conclusion 

Biochar became [could become?] an important tool to mitigate the climate changes caused by anthropogenic activities. But as it is presented above biochar can also be successfully used in agricultural sector. The literature review presented above suggests that biochar is a material that significantly affects soil quality by changing its structure as well as chemical composition. It can be used in the water stress management and in the bioremediation processes, particularly in recovery of the soils contaminated with PAHs and heave metals. There are a growing number of evidences showing positive effect of biochar on plant growth and development; however this effect is strongly related to the climate and soil type. Also, biochar when applied together with mineral or organic fertilizers seems to significantly improve fertilizer efficiency and use by the plant. Finally, biochar was found to cause important changes in soil microbiota structure and function and it is believe to create favorable conditions for microorganisms.

Biochar's role in the landscape - Hugh McLaughlin

Hugh does a great job here linking chemistry and biology for biochar production and soil application...

If you are interested in biochar test methods, then you should also check out Hugh's expert advice in this video (poor sound quality)...

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Could trees be the chemical recycling centres of the future?

Maybe UBC would be open to some collaborative research in SEA... FRIM and other regional forestry research groups may be good partners.

Poplar trees on the site of a former landfill in Salmon Arm, B.C.
Could trees be the chemical recycling centres of the future?: Trees are pretty useful to humans: they produce oxygen, provide lumber, and, if a B.C.-based research project is successful, they might help society turn harmful contaminants into useful chemical products like natural fertilizer, insecticides, antibacterials and antioxidants. UBC Okanagan chemistry professor Susan Murch has partnered with local environmental remediation company Passive Remediation Systems Ltd. (PRS) to study how trees can absorb contaminated soil and change it into something usable.

"First, PRS harvests leaves and stems from its poplars and cooks them in a sealed oven to produce "biochar," a solid compound which can be used as material for 3D printing or mixed with compost to form a chemical-rich fertilizer. A by-product of the cooking process is "wood vinegar" — a steam extract that Murch and her team will analyse for useful molecules."

IBI June Webinar: Urban biochar

International Biochar Initiative - Educational Webinar Series
 Stockholm Biochar Project

June 28, 2017 • 1:00- 2:30pm ET
The Stockholm Biochar Project was one of the winners of the Mayors Challenge funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.  Prize money has helped fund the 1st of 5 planned facilities to convert urban green waste into heat and biochar which opened earlier this year. Once all five plants are operational, the city will be producing 7,000 tons of biochar per year while contributing heat to the city's district heating system.  City residents will be able to get bags of biochar in exchange for taking their organic waste to the processing facilities.
Mattais Gustaffson is the Project Manager and will provide an overview of the project to date as well as lessons learned and recommendations for others interested in replicating their efforts in other cities - to date they have had inquiries from nearly 100 other cities interested in carbonizing greenwaste.

Free to IBI Members or $40 for non-members
To Register:
Registration includes access to the slides and a recording of the webinar.
IBI Members register here (go to the upcoming webinars section). Your event link will be emailed to you after successful confirmation about your membership status.
Non-IBI members register here.
Mattias_GustaffsonMattias Gustaffson
Mattias Gustafsson works as a consultant in biochar and renewable energy through his own firm EcoTopic. Ongoing assignments include project management, technical expertise and lectures both in Sweden and internationally. At the moment Mattias is the project manager for the Stockholm Biochar Project.

Moderator:  Kathleen Draper
Kathleen is a member of the IBI Board and Chair of IBI's Information Hub. She is also the US Director of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence. The Institute is an open source network focusing on beneficial carbon sequestration strategies which simultaneously provide economic development opportunities both in the developed and developing world. She is an editor and writer for The Biochar Journal, sponsored by the Ithaka Institute. Kathleen also works with various different universities and individuals on projects that are investigating the use of biochar in cement and other building and packaging products to develop products with lower embodied carbon which can be made from locally available organic waste. She has written extensively about various topics related to biochar and is a co-author of the book "Terra Preta: How the World's Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger".
For more information:
For more information or if you have any questions about registration please email Vera Medici at
Want to become an IBI member?  Visit our membership page to help support IBI.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

More on biochar for wastewater industry applications

This looks interesting for the wastewater industry... The full publication is available from the linked title.

Bioremediation of Wastewater by Iron Oxide-Biochar Nanocomposites Loaded with Photosynthetic Bacteria 

Shiying He1 , Linghao Zhong2 , Jingjing Duan1 , Yanfang Feng1 , Bei Yang1 and Linzhang Yang1 * 
1 Institute of Agricultural Resources and Environment, Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Nanjing, China, 
2 Department of Chemistry, Pennsylvania State University, Mont Alto, PA, United States 

"It has been reported that bacteria-mediated degradation of contaminants is a practical and innocuous wastewater treatment. In addition, iron oxide nanoparticles (NP) are wastewater remediation agents with great potentials due to their strong adsorption capacity, chemical inertness and superparamagnetism. Therefore, a combination of NPs and microbes could produce a very desirable alternative to conventional wastewater treatment. For this purpose, we first prepared Fe3O4/biochar nano-composites, followed by loading photosynthetic bacteria (PSB) onto them. It was found that Fe3O4/biochar nano-composites exhibited a high adsorption capacity for PSB (5.45 × 109 cells/g). The efficiency of wastewater pollutants removal by this PSB/Fe3O4/biochar agent was then analyzed. Our results indicated that when loaded onto Fe3O4/biochar nano-composites, PSB’s nutrient removal capability was significantly enhanced (P < 0.05). This agent removed 83.1% of chemical oxygen demand, 87.5% of NH+ 4 , and 92.1% of PO3− 4 from the wastewater in our study. Our experiments also demonstrated that such composites are outstanding recyclable agents. Their nutrient removal capability remained effective even after five cycles. In conclusion, we found the PSB/Fe3O4/biochar composites as a very promising material for bioremediation in the wastewater treatment. "

Friday, 2 June 2017

More on soil remediation

Another article on biochar use for soil remediation. The mining legacy is also a huge problem all over the SEA region.

Mining for answers on abandoned mines

Mining for answers on abandoned mines
Biochar totes are in the foreground with biochar application in the background. Biochar is being applied to a slope on the right. Credit: Andrew Harley

Read more at:
"In the western United States 160,000 abandoned mines contaminate soils in the region. Ippolito, associate professor of soil science at Colorado State University, hopes to solve this problem with biochar, a charcoal-like substance that can reduce the toxic consequences of mining for metals" 

Biochar, compost and soil remediation

Role of biochar on composting of organic wastes and remediation of contaminated soils—a review


Biochar is produced by pyrolysis of biomass residues under limited oxygen conditions. In recent years, biochar as an amendment has received increasing attention on composting and soil remediation, due to its unique properties such as chemical recalcitrance, high porosity and sorption capacity, and large surface area. This paper provides an overview on the impact of biochar on the chemical characteristics (greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen loss, decomposition and humification of organic matter) and microbial community structure during composting of organic wastes. This review also discusses the use of biochar for remediation of soils contaminated with organic pollutants and heavy metals as well as related mechanisms. Besides its aging, the effects of biochar on the environment fate and efficacy of pesticides deserve special attention. Moreover, the combined application of biochar and compost affects synergistically on soil remediation and plant growth. Future research needs are identified to ensure a wide application of biochar in composting and soil remediation.
Graphical abstract

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Regional biochar training program?

Is there an opportunity here for a regional biochar training program.
This could bring expertise to support local biochar supporters, groups or NGO's.
It should also be a great opportunity for mature CHAB technology demonstration projects.
Your feedback / ideas welcome.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: EEP Mekong Programme <>
Date: 29 May 2017 at 16:52

                EEP Mekong Programme


The Energy and Environment Partnership Programme with theMekong Region - EEP Mekong, funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, aims to improve access to sustainable energy in the EEP Mekong partner countries Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
This Call-for-Proposals (CfP-8) is aiming at both Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and private sector companies in clean energy to propose projects.  CSO can propose pilot projects on a smaller scale whereas private sector projects should be close to commercial maturity and have potential for scaling-up.
Minimum project value for both applications (CSO and private sector) is Euro 250,000. CSO projects can be funded (grant) of up to 60% of project value.
Private sector projects can receive project grant support of up to Euro 1,000,000 depending on the project size and the level of verifiable self-financing of the project developer.
EEP Mekong is inviting CfP applications in only one step as Full Project Proposals.

To be eligible, projects have to be implemented in one or more of the EEP Mekong partner countries - Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The programme developers have to be registered in one or more of the above partner countries or Finland.
Interested project developers are requested to submit their Project proposal online through the link provided at EEP Mekong on or before 30 June 2017, at 16:00 hrs,Vientiane time.
For detailed information about EEP Mekong programme and how to apply for project funding (CfP-8), please visit
or contact
Bernhard Meyhöfer, Programme Manager
Cosme de Arana, Business Development Expert