Sunday, 21 August 2016

Kontiki biochar production in Vietnam

My thanks to Prof. Stephen Joseph for the following...

Biochar use for climate-change mitigation in rice cropping systems (Vietnam)

My thanks to Prof. Stephen Joseph who has sent me the following publication. Please let me know if you would like me to forward a copy to you...

Biochar use for climate-change mitigation in rice cropping systems


This study estimated the climate change effects of alternative rice production systems in North Vietnam with different residue management options, using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The traditional practice of open burning of residues (System A) was compared with the alternative of converting residues to biochar, which was returned to the same land area from which the residues were obtained (System B). Pyrolytic cook-stoves and drum ovens were assumed to be used by households to produce biochar, and the cook-stoves produced heat energy for cooking. The annual rate of biochar applied was determined by the amount of biochar produced from the straw and husk available. We assumed that agronomic effects of biochar increased with each annual biochar application until reaching maximum benefits at 18 Mg ha 1 , which takes eight years to be produced in pyrolytic cook-stoves and drum ovens. The largest contributor to the carbon footprint of rice at the mill gate, was CH4 emissions from soil, in both systems. Biochar addition reduced the carbon footprint of spring rice and summer rice by 26% and 14% respectively, compared with System A, in the first year of application. These values substantially increased to 49% and 38% after eight years of biochar addition. The climate effect of System B was most sensitive to the assumed suppression of soil CH4 emissions due to biochar application.

 Ali Mohammadi a, * , Annette Cowie a, b , Thi Lan Anh Mai c , Ruy Anaya de la Rosa a , Paul Kristiansen a , Miguel Brandao~ d , Stephen Joseph a, e, f

a School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia 
b NSW Department of Primary Industries, Beef Industry Centre, Trevenna Rd., Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia 
c Thai Nguyen University of Sciences, Thai Nguyen University, Thai Nguyen Province, Viet Nam 
d Division of Industrial Ecology, Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Engineering (SEED), School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), KTH - Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden 
e Discipline of Chemistry, University of Newcastle, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia 
f School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

Thursday, 16 June 2016

More from Dr Paul Olivier in Vietnam

Transforming Biodegradable Waste, Integrating Plant and Animal Systems, Deindustrializing Agriculture, Reducing Carbon Emissions, Sequestering Carbon, Decommodifying Food and Restoring Biodiversity

By Dr. Paul Olivier, Dr. Nguyen Van Ket and Todd Hyman 
                  June 7, 2016                                       

This essay has seven major themes, as its title indicates. Small farmers transform biodegradable waste at the highest possible level, they closely integrate plant and animal systems, and they deindustrialize the production of food. These three strategies allow them to play a major role in reducing carbon emissions and in sequestering carbon. Furthermore, small farmers participate in co-ops that share and integrate waste resources and waste technologies. These co-ops also provide education and training, and they take care of all aspects of selling to consumers. With all of these elements in place, small farmers are then able to de-commodify the sale of food. Food is not just another commodity to be traded in the global marketplace. The market value of food should never be allowed to override broader issues relating to food safety, food security, the health of the environment and the biodiversity of our planet.

Biochar is a frequent subject throughout this report.

100 Projects for the Climate

This French initiative is helping support a number of biochar related projects. Three projects in the SEA region are revealed from a search on 'biochar' (nine in total)...

Philippines: cook stoves

Vietnam: gasifier technology

Philippines: Project Eden

They can all benefit from your votes...

Friday, 20 May 2016

Permaculture Research Institute - biochar

Tropical Orchard Establishment Practices and Concepts: Part 2 of 3

Biochar Production

We make a small amount of biochar yearly to be used in our nursery potting soil and applied to our garden beds. Biochar has been studied extensively over the past 25 years and has proven to be an effective soil fertility strategy, in particular in the tropics. We use two different biochar systems. The first is a cook stove called an Estufa Finca. This was developed by our friend Art Donnelly of The second is a larger retort kiln called a TLUD (Top-Lit Up-Draft) made of two 55 gallon metal drums.
Biochar is a fascinating soil amendment that inspires much disagreement and conversation. For us, we are mostly interested in leveraging the unique physical and chemical properties of biochar to reduce leaching of nutrients, improve soil structure, buffer our pH, and provide host sites for microorganisms. Biochar in general has a negative molecular charge which binds well to nutrients and it’s physical structure provides endless nooks and crannies for a diversity of microbial life to seek shelter from predators.
We primary use fruit tree and bamboo prunings for our biochar feed stock. We avoid nitrogen rich feed stock as this nitrogen volatilizes during the combustion process. After a burn, which can be seen in the following photos, the biochar is crushed and then charged. As the burn process removes most nutrients from the remaining carbon, it is most effective to soak the biochar in a nitrogen rich liquid. Typically we use effluent from our methane biodigestors.
An Estufa Finca cook stove is stocked and started. This highly efficient stove boils a gallon of water in under 10 minutes and produces biochar as a bi-product.
An Estufa Finca cook stove is stocked and started. This highly efficient stove boils a gallon of water in under 10 minutes and produces biochar as a bi-product.
Turmeric is being processed on the stove to make a live-cultured soda and obtain a dried spice.
Turmeric is being processed on the stove to make a live-cultured soda and obtain a dried spice.
As the stove dies down, the combustion is stopped by dumping the contents into a quench bucket.
As the stove dies down, the combustion is stopped by dumping the contents into a quench bucket.
The biochar is then incorporated into our potting mix or worked into resting garden beds. Occasionally we apply this amendment directly to tree planting holes, in which case we apply ½ kilo per tree hole and top dress under the mulch another ½ kilo.
Overall biochar does not make up a huge part of our day-to-day work. I find it challenging to find the time and physical space for all the necessary harvesting, handling, and drying of feedstock. This year we will make 60 to 120 kilos of biochar for our gardens.

Akhmal Buanie: Innovative tech for charcoal production

Co/ the Borneo Post...

Superb winners from Sarawak
Akhmal Buanie: Innovative tech for charcoal production

"Akhmal Buanie was the first Sarawakian contestant to win over the panel in the fourth series of Superb in 2014 with his invention called the Biochar Pyrolysis.
Akhmal was one of 26 winners of Superb grants in the third and fourth phases that won a total of RM13 million – each taking RM500,000.
Titled ‘Biochar Pyrolysis – Innovated Technology For Charcoal Production’, Akhmal’s project involved the production of Biochar from industrial residues or other Biomass Energy sources using Pyrolysis Technology.
“As you know, Superb programme is a programme which provides initial capital to start up new and innovative businesses for Bumiputera youth who have new innovative business ideas which could be introduced or even be a hit in today’s market.
“I believed that I have a few new and innovative business ideas that I can bet on in the Superb programme.
“For that programme, I offered Superb my latest innovation, ‘Biochar Pyrolysis’ – Innovated Technology For Charcoal Production,” Akhmal said to BizHive Weekly.
Biochar Pyrolysis, he explained, is a technology that will improve and reduce the production cost of producing charcoal to as much as 60 per cent of the current cost using the traditional technology, a method which is still widely used by charcoal producers in Malaysia.
“The pyrolysis system that we adopted for the charcoal production will also produce better and cleaner charcoal compared to the traditional method,” he said, adding that the system is also environmental friendly as there is no smoke produced in the process.
Akhmal believes charcoal production will be more cost efferctive with better quality products while at the same time, the industry will be a green industry for the country if all charcoal producers adopted his technology.
On the progress and development of Biochar Pyrolysis, Akhmal shared that they have just completed their design and planning stage.
“We have rented a factory in Sejingkat Industrial Area for our future operation,” he enthused. “We will very soon start fabricating our own design (of) relevent machineries.”
With the funding from Superb, Akhmal is confident that they will surely be able to have a modern charcoal production factory capable of producing various types of charcoal/biochar products in the range of 10 metric tonnes (mt) per day.
“We hope to go further downstream, producing activated carbon and carbon-related products in the future,” he added.
Akhmal had advice to impart on those aspiring entrepreneurs looking to join the Superb programmes which is simply to “understand and know your product well.”
At the same time, participants are also advised to expand their knowledge base, gathering more information from whatever relevant resources they can think of.
As for those who believe that Akhmal can be of help to them and would like for him share his experience in Superb with them, he stresses that he is willing to do so and is always available to them in that regard."

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Biochar and urban trees

The following link leads to my post to ABE website on a new article published by The Biochar Journal. The article is focused on temperate climate urban planting in Sweden but I think it is still highly relevant to urban tree planting in the tropics.
Click above to link:

Malaysia has some experience with urban biochar planting which has been highlighted in the past...

Singapore also has a strong history in urban tree research...

If you have any other stories related to urban biochar applications in the SEA region, then please get in touch. 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Thinking big about haze in Thailand

Michael Shafer, director of the Warm Heart Foundation offers some thoughtful comments on Thailand's version of the regional haze issue. I cut the following comments related to biochar from the article published by 'The Nation' newspaper. The full article is available here.

CP are The Charoen Pokphand Group

"...What might such a solution look like?

The problem is hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste corn stalk that farmers have no option but to burn in order to clear their fields for the next crop. CP can teach farmers how to turn their corn stalk into a valuable product: biochar. Biochar, a pure form of charcoal, is made using a process called "pyrolysis" that produces no smoke, no black carbon, and virtually no greenhouse gases. The production of biochar is also carbon-negative, meaning that it removes CO2 from the atmosphere, reversing global warming.

To encourage farmers to make biochar, CP can include the purchase of the biochar made from contract corn stalks in the same contracts as for the purchase of corn kernel.

CP also owns large pig farms where it has manure management problems. Biochar is an excellent absorbent, capable of absorbing huge quantities of pig urine. It also dramatically reduces smells by adsorbing the ammonia and other noxious gases produced by pig urine and manure that make it smell so foul. Conveniently, mixing biochar with pig urine and manure creates a very effective organic fertiliser.

At the start of a growing season CP can distribute the biochar fertiliser to farmers in lieu of distributing synthetic fertiliser as they often do now. The reduction in synthetic fertiliser costs will fund biochar purchases, while the biochar fertiliser will improve farmers' soils and yields because it provides many more benefits than synthetics, including the capacity to retain water. Biochar fertilisers have the added benefit that biochar "locks up" pesticides in the soil. This reduces the risk of toxins entering the food chain and reduces the amount of toxic run-off from fields.

Taking such a "life-cycle" approach - from field waste and manure to fertiliser and feed - CP joins the ranks of a corporate elite, companies that make environmental sustainability part of the way they do business, and distinguishes itself from the majority of companies that talk about the environment without making it part of business operations. Such public relations is literally priceless, because it cannot be bought, but will serve CP well as it deals with consumer pressure groups in Europe.

If CP offers such a solution to the "corn crisis", it secures all five of the values we seek to protect. Farmers continue to get corn contracts and now get contracts for biochar made from their corn waste. Public health improves because every tonne of corn waste that is "pyrolysed" keeps six kilograms of smoke from being released into the air. The economy of the North gets a boost because the poor have more money in their pockets which, being poor, they spend immediately. The Thai economy can continue to grow as consumers do not face higher meat prices, chicken exports do not fall, and thousands of jobs and billions of baht of economic activity do not move to Myanmar. Thailand sharply reduces its national carbon footprint as the reduction in field burning cuts black carbon releases and the rise in biochar production cuts GHG emissions and sequesters three tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of biochar produced.

Michael Shafer is director of the Warm Heart Foundation based in A Phrao, Chiang Mai.

There is a overlapping story here for the annual haze issues emanating from forestry and plantation activity in Indonesia (some of it controlled by Malaysian & Singaporean interests). Check out 13 previous posts on the haze issue and its solutions here.