Translator

Friday, 6 December 2013

2013 USBI North American Biochar Symposium

I’ve been a little slow in finding the output from this conference… I’m sure the most comprehensive biochar event to date.

This link leads to all the conference content including video coverage.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Soil science - a crash course

http://soilcarbon.org.nz/soil-science-a-crash-course/

Biochar workshop videos

This biochar workshop delves deep into the many aspects of biochar production and application. Part 1 focuses on practical production techniques using ‘drum within drum’ retort. There may be some advantages for this over the TLUD system (ie, reduced supervision).

Part 2 and 3 are classroom based with Q&A. Bob Wells (New England Biochar) describes his 4-part philosophy for biochar production: 1 – make the best possible biochar; 2 – use the residual energy efficiently; 3 – eliminate emissions; 4 – make the project profitable. John Nilsson (soil scientist) talks about history of biochar and its applications.

Part 4 takes a look at the triple Adam Retort system, installed by New England Biochar, that is the center piece for the site where the workshop is conducted.


Friday, 29 November 2013

Japanese Charcoal

Japan has a long history with charcoal and continues to demonstrate novel uses for its many forms... including soil applications.



Part 1 focuses on the history of, and cooking with, charcoal in Japan... http://youtu.be/FyYs3gZ9RcU

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Biochar burn school results - another haze reduction strategy?

Where open burning is legal and unavoidable, the technique demonstrated here offers benefits for pollution / haze reduction and biochar production.
"A quick summary of results of experiments in open burn techniques to minimize smoke and maximize charcoal production. Experiments were conducted by volunteers over a 3 day period, November 15-17, 2013, outside of Grants Pass, Oregon."


http://www.slideshare.net/kelpiew/biochar-burn-school-results

Soil Science Conference of Malaysia 2014 - Announcement and call for papers

The Malaysian Society of Soil Science (MSSS) has announced their annual conference for 8-10 April 2014 in Kangsar, Perlis. The brochure can be viewed here: http://www.msss.com.my/news/

Call for papers (and posters) deadline 31Dec 2013

Last year provided 3 papers and a poster on biochar...
http://sea-biochar.blogspot.com/2013/04/malaysian-soils-conference-2013-update.html

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Biochar and compost – important information

This should prove to be a valuable contribution to the accumulated knowledge on the benefits of combining biochar and compost...
http://soilcarbon.org.nz/new-publication-with-sections-on-biochar-and-compost/

Note "Integrated solutions in Vietnam", page 49

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

ECHO Asia Biochar Initiatives - Thailand

I have a PDF version of the following report from ECHO Asia in Thailand (with photos) which can be provided upon request.

"The ECHO Asia Impact Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand has been researching and promoting biochar since 2011 for its potential role in soil improvement. Biochar seems especially well-suited to offer positive soil building properties and climate change mitigation strategies for smallholder farmers in Asia.

In August of 2012, ECHO Asia began conducting a 3-year randomized complete block field experiment to test the effects of biochar on plant health and growth at the ECHO Asia Seed Bank in Mae Ai, Thailand. Four raised beds (8m X 90cm) made out of cement bricks and filled with local soil were utilized, and experimental units (four per bed, measuring 1.5m X 90cm with 50cm buffer space) were physically separated with plastic lined cement bricks to prevent migration of nutrients, biochar, and earthworms. Bamboo char was made from Dendrocalamusstrictus using a TLUD made from a 55-gallon drum. Treatments were: 1) control soil without amendments, 2) soil with compost added; 3) soil with char added; and 4) soil with biochar added (equal parts of char and hog manure compost left to age for 3 months). All additions to the experimental units were made on an equal weight basis of 2kg m-2.

Two cropping cycles per year will be utilized, with the first cycle comprised of 6 plants of direct-seeded grain amaranth and 6 transplants of ‘Clemson Spinless’ okra, and the second cycle comprised of 6 plants of direct-seeded foxtail millet and 6 transplants of yellow eggplant in every experimental unit. This cropping cycle arrangement will be followed for three years without additional fertility inputs. Dependent variables include soil testing of the experimental units, soil testing of the amendments, plant height, plant yield, % necrosis and chlorosis, and chlorophyll content (as a proxy for nitrogen deficiency) using an atLEAF+ meter (similar to a SPAD meter). The first year of cropping is finished, but results have yet to be analyzed.

The office also has plans to start another experiment that will investigate the properties of different chars made from different feedstocks using different gasification stoves. The goal is to determine the boil time for a predetermined amount of water from a pre-determined amount of feedstock, the amount of resultant char, the temperatures achieved by feedstock and stove type, and the properties of the resulting char (pH, CEC, etc.)."


Abram J. Bicksler, Ph.D.
Director, ECHO Asia Impact Center, Chiang Mai, Thailand
http://echonet.org/asia-impact-center/






 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Update of the GIZ-HERA publication‚ microgasification - cooking with gas from biomass

"If you are involved with any cookstoves that are micro-gasifiers, please read the message below about getting the updated news submitted for a revised edition about those stoves (many of which produce charcoal/biochar.)
If you are not familiar with the first edition (January 2011), you can see it on the Internet at the link provided below."


http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/biochar/conversations/topics/15591
 

Biochar used to produce supercapacitors

"Researchers report that wood-biochar supercapacitors can produce as much power as today’s activated-carbon supercapacitors at a fraction of the cost."

Monday, 14 October 2013

Stephen Joseph - Biochar R&D in Asia and Australia

This is a followup to my earlier post on the British Biochar Foundation conference video coverage. This keynote address has a lot of interesting information on biochar activity in Asia - highly recommended...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Biochar -- Putting the carbon Genie back in the bottle: Rob Lerner at TEDxSanMiguelDeAllende

A new TED talk on biochar...




Other biochar related TED-type talks...

TEDxBerkeley - Lopa Brunjes - Biochar: An Ancient Solution to a Modern Problem
http://youtu.be/ZroDAyIqW74

TEDxHilo - Josiah Hunt - Biochar and the Future of Farming
http://youtu.be/SWbomZJn83U


The Carbon Negative Revolution: Jason Aramburu at TEDxMission
http://youtu.be/3C7rn6Amf0k

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Biochar as a replacement for perlite in greenhouse soilless substrates

This masters thesis is receiving praise from the biochar community. Another demonstration of the many commercial niches that biochar may occupy in the near future...
"... Results varied among trials and crops grown. Many biochar-based substrates produced plants with shoot dry mass greater than or equal to the control. These results demonstrate the potential for biochar to replace perlite and eliminate the limestone amendment needed for commercial greenhouse soilless substrates based on sphagnum peat. Soilless substrates containing biochar as a replacement for perlite and limestone can successfully be used for greenhouse plant production."
http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/13399/#!

Friday, 27 September 2013

13th Hari Organik 2013 - CETDEM

I am posting below a notice from the Organic Farming Project Coordinator at CETDEM.  Check out their website for details...

"CETDEM is organizing its 13th edition Hari Organik on 5th October, 2013 at  the Taman Pusat Bandar SS2 , Jalan SS2/63, PJ, from 8-30 ~ 2pm.
The Hari Organik aims to promote an organic and sustainable lifestyle. A platform for networking and sharing information with producers / service providers and consumers.
Hence, we are seeking your help to post this event on your website/facebook and to those whom you think might be interested.
 We hope you will continue to support us and make this Hari Organik a success. It is only with your support that we could go this far......
Please come and enjoy the special organic Penang vegetarian curry laksa!

Much appreciated

Tan Siew Luang
Organic Farming Project Coordinator, CETDEM
M: 016 219 5826; Tel: 03 7875 7767; Fax: 03 7875 4039
URL: www.cetdem.org.my
www.facebook.com/cetdem.org.my
CETDEM is not-for-profit organization,"

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Characterization of Local Mill Rice Husk Charcoal and Its Effect on Compost Properties

Theeba, Scientist and biochar researcher at MARDI, has previously provided access to the following research paper on Rice Husk Char. I am re-posting this final version for submission to the IBI bibliography. The RHC was not assessed under IBI product certification guidelines but it does appear to meet the "Test Category A - Basic Utility Properties" for Class 3 biochar. The product has a long history of local use as cost effective growing medium. A search on this website for 'rice' will provide links to many previous posts related to the subject of RHC.

The commercialisation of compost products based around this research is under investigation by MARDI.

Abstract

"Rice Husk Charcoal (RHC) is a by-product of rice processing mills which can be found in very large quantities in these mills. This industrial waste is largely unutilized, causing environmental pollution especially in the state of Kelantan. In order to increase its utilization, RHC was characterized and investigated for its potential in enhancing the composting process. Physico-chemical properties of RHC such as pH, nutrient content, ash content, CEC, adsorption kinetics, surface area, functional groups, surface structure and pore sizes were studied. The composting treatments were carried out by mixing 4% (wt/wt) and 6% (wt/wt) RHC with organic substrates and with no RHC amended as control. Parameters such as daily temperature, CO fux, nutrient content, pH, moisture and total microbial count were measured during the composting process. Results showed that RHC is a highly alkaline material (pH 8.9) with a carbon content of 16% (wt/wt dry basis), CEC of 17cmol kg-1 soil, BET surface area of 401 mg g-1 and a methylene blue adsorption capacity of 38.8 mg g-1. The presence of C=O carboxyl-C, ketones and ester, aliphatic C=H, C=C benzene ring and C-H aromatic hydrogen suggests that RHC mainly comprises amorphous char, a random mixture of thermally altered molecules and aromatic polycondensates.The addition of RHC to organic matter accelerated the composting process through higher decomposition rates due to higher microbial population at the thermophilic stage with RHC acting as a bulking agent, as well as higher moisture and nutrient retention during composting. N losses were found to be lower with RHC composting
Rice Husk Charcoal (RHC) is a by-product of rice processing mills which can be found in very large quantities in these mills. This industrial waste is largely unutilized, causing environmental pollution especially in the state of Kelantan. In order to increase its utilization, RHC was characterized and investigated for its potential in enhancing the composting process. Physico-chemical properties of RHC such as pH, nutrient content, ash content, CEC, adsorption kinetics, surface area, functional groups, surface structure and pore sizes were studied. The composting treatments were carried out by mixing 4% (wt/wt) and 6% (wt/wt) RHC with organic substrates and with no RHC amended as control. Parameters such as daily temperature, CO fux, nutrient content, pH, moisture and total microbial count were measured during the composting process. Results showed that RHC is a highly alkaline material (pH 8.9) with a carbon content of 16% (wt/wt dry basis), CEC of 17cmol kg-1 soil, BET surface area of 401 mg g-1 and a methylene blue adsorption capacity of 38.8 mg g-1. The presence of C=O carboxyl-C, ketones and ester, aliphatic C=H, C=C benzene ring and C-H aromatic hydrogen suggests that RHC mainly comprises amorphous char, a random mixture of thermally altered molecules and aromatic polycondensates.The addition of RHC to organic matter accelerated the composting process through higher decomposition rates due to higher microbial population at the thermophilic stage with RHC acting as a bulking agent, as well as higher moisture and nutrient retention during composting. N losses were found to be lower with RHC composting."


https://www.dropbox.com/s/4y0ycvbzqpo6w6b/Theeba.pdf

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Dr Paul Olivier visits Malaysia - regional TLUD development

The following comments are Co/ Dr Paul Olivier, cut from a recent post to the "Improved Biomass Cooking Stoves" discussion list (you may need to sign up to access original post... and its not archived at the time of posting).

..."I just returned last week from Malaysia in order to look into the gasification of palm kernal shells. This looks quite feasible, even without forming these shells into pellets. But bottled gas in relatively rich Malaysia is very cheap compared to relatively poor Vietnam, because the Malaysian government subsidizes bottled gas. At the same time, Singapore and large parts of Malaysia were recently subjected to dangerous levels of smoke from the large-scale burning of biomass in Sumatra over a period of several weeks. The entire city of Singapore was virtually shut down for a few weeks. Once again, why bother with biomass stoves as long as governments are willing to subsidize the price of bottled gas? After all, no biomass stove can match the safety (low CO and low PM), convenience (the simple twist of a knob) and turn-down ratio (1 to 99) of bottled gas.

I design biomass stoves the way I do primarily because I believe something should be done about global warming and ocean acidification. Here in Vietnam huge quantities of rice hulls, rice straw, coffee husks, pine forest debris and many other types of biomass are uselessly burned, while many people, especially in urban areas, burn coal and bottled gas to cook their food. So ridiculous. At the same time large portions of the Mekong (the center of food production in Vietnam) will soon be under water as sea levels continue to rise at their current rate.

But replacing bottled gas is not my only goal. Burying biochar is also critical in combating global warming and ocean acidification. Here CO2 is pulled from the air and locked in the soil for hundreds of years. At the same time, there are the many benefits of biochar that I have read about from scientists such as Ogawa (AM fungi), Lehmann and Joseph (a member of this stove list). Also in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, we have done more than 22 biochar studies with biochar from my gasifiers. These studies show remarkable numbers with regard to plant and animal growth. Then finally, in the city where I live, rice hull biochar is a hot commodity when incorporated into potting soils in greenhouses. Why burn biochar when it sells at such a good price, especially when it is worth far more than the biomass from which it was derived? So I cannot help but conclude that stoves that do not burn biochar, but make it, are incredibly important. Also, if I were to burn biochar within the reactor of my TLUD, this would be such an inefficient exercise, since the distance between the pot and the burning biochar would be so great.

No, it makes so much sense to keep the biochar. We can feed biochar to pigs, cows and chickens. We then take the solid waste from these animals and feed it to BSF larvae. We then take the residue of the larvae and feed it to red worms, and finally we take the vermi-compost loaded with biochar back to the soil. The biochar passes through the gut of three creatures before it gets incorporated into the soil. When we put biochar in a dry bedding for pigs and cows, listen carefully, there is no urine or ammonia smell. We have virtually odorless pig pens. The pigs play in the bedding and even eat it. More than 60 farmers in the area have now adopted this way of raising pigs. All of these farmer use biochar. Also there are no flies around these pig pens. Antibiotics are no longer used. Not a single piglet gets diarrhea.

The pig farmers make rice wine, and the mash gets fed to the pigs. I will start supplying gasifiers to these pig farmers for the distillation of their rice wine. The burning of low-grade biomass for rice wine distillation will stop. The farmers will then be able to make their own biochar to incorporate into pig bedding...
"

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Biochar benefits aplenty for rubber planter and workers

This is the title of an article by Dr Saman Dharmakeerthi in the July-August issue of Rubber Asia magazine. The article is available online here...

http://issuu.com/dhanampublications/docs/rubber-asia-july-august2013/69?e=3386873/4174718

There has been research activity in Sri Lanka for some time around the tea and rubber industries. Dr Dharmakeerthi hopes that this will lead to a local biochar interest group in the near future.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Haze, Slash&burn and palm oil plantations in Indonesia

I have posted a number of times on the haze issue that afflicts Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore on an annual basis (search on "haze" for 3 previous posts).  I recently discussed this subject with a senior executive from a major plantation company (lets call him Mazlan). This is how he described the situation in Sumatra to me (please excuse any over-simplification - I'm sure there may be many variations to the theme):

Major international palm oil plantation companies negotiate access to land (in Sumatra) with both state and federal authorities in Indonesia. They are granted initial 3-year concessions (I am not sure what criteria must be met in this period - but I assume it would relate to negotiating final agreements with all affected parties) prior to the major financial commitment involved in establishing the plantation and its required infrastructure.

A large plantation company will invariably be looking for large contiguous blocks of land under a concession but maybe only 50% of this land will be suitable for plantation conversion. The balance may be protected or physically unsuitable or under the control of existing small holders or villagers.  I have heard that land tenure and ownership is at the heart of the many problems associated with the rural poor in Indonesia. This issue was reinforced to me by Mazlan, who also claimed that many of these rural landless poor will seek to advantage themselves when major land deals are in progress by moving into the land concession blocks.

Mazlan points out that his company's practices strictly adhere to RSPO rules... there is no open burning on the land under their direct control. The burning is carried out by the existing land-holders, villagers or migrant poor. The plantation company has no powers or rights to enforce the 'no open burning' laws or rules. The people living within their concession areas can not be forcibly removed or controlled by the plantation company. This is the responsibility of the Indonesian government (be it local, regional or federal). I can not verify any of this but it does seem plausible.

I can easily imagine the difficulties faced by government authorities in trying to enforce any burning ban. I can also understand the position of the rural poor in trying to clear land quickly for planting, enhance their poor soil fertility with ash, retain claim over land by clearing or even to just high-lighting their remote, marginal existence by sending smoke signals to the urban wealthy.
I would like to offer up a long term solution (and no surprise, it has biochar at it heart)...

Nutrient management is one of the major cost components for a palm oil plantation. This is due to the inherently poor fertility of most tropical soils and the intensive extractive nature of plantation agriculture. Biochar offers the possibility for a revolution in nutrient use efficiency in tropical agriculture along with many other proven soil and water holding benefits. Some plantation companies are starting to take notice and have begun some small scale research trials (much more could and should be done).

Lets take a small leap of faith here and assume biochar can replace some of the mineral fertilizers that are regularly applied to the plantation palms. This gives biochar an economic value, creating the potential for local biochar production and its associated supply chain developing within and around the plantation. Biomass will be too valuable to just burn - it will become the feedstock for the plantation-driven local biochar production industry. Training and equipping local people to produce biochar is relatively simple but the incentive to work must be based on a real economic value of the product. Lets assume a biochar value similar to urea... say $US300/T.  One man with a simple 200L drum TLUD could earn $30/day? My list of the benefits...
  • Local communities
  1. Work, income and all of the poverty reduction, social cohesion and local development that comes with economic stability.
  2. Improved health - they are on the haze front line.
  3. Sustainable agricultural practices that come with biochar.
  • Plantation companies
  1. All the potential benefits that can come with biochar in the soil (economic and environmental)... reduced fertilizer requirements, improved crop productivity, improved water holding capacity, improved plant & soil health, reduced carbon footprint (from fertilizer transport, carbon sequestration, GHG emissions reductions), reduced nutrient & sediment erosion leading to better water quality. 
  2. A local biochar industry will help meet CSR and TBL (economic, social, environmental reporting) goals including carbon sequestration.
  3. Plantation biomass can be directed toward biochar at a later stage, after the costs, benefits & risks have been assessed. When large scale pyrolysis systems are integrated (CHP) into palm oil mills, many other benefits will flow to the plantation companies.
  • Regional governments (and us!)
  1. Haze reduction...
  2. economic growth
  3. carbon sequestration
Dr Christoph Steiner proposed a Slash&char alternative to the Slash&burn activities he studied in Brazil as part of his PhD thesis. His book may also offer some insights on biochar based solutions.

Effects of biochar on soil properties and erosion potential in a highly weathered soil

Abstract

Highly weathered soils in humid Asia are characterized by low soil fertility and high soil erosion potential. This study evaluates the influences of biochar made from the waste wood of white lead trees (Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit) on the physicochemical and biological properties of long-term cultivated, acidic Ultisol. This study used three application rates (0%, 2.5%, and 5% (wt/wt)) of the biochar with an incubation time of 105 d for all cases. Soils were collected at 21 d, 42 d, 63 d, 84 d and 105 d during the incubation period to evaluate changes in soil properties over time. A simulated rainfall event (80 mm h− 1) was performed to estimate soil loss for all treatments at the end of the incubation time. Experimental results indicate that applying biochar improved the physicochemical and biological properties of the highly weathered soils, including significant increases in soil pH from 3.9 to 5.1, cation exchange capacity from 7.41 to 10.8 cmol (+) kg− 1, base cation percentage from 6.40 to 26.0%, and microbial biomass carbon (MBC) from 835 to 1262 mg kg− 1. Compared with the control (i.e., no biochar), biochar application decreased bulk density from 1.4 to 1.1 Mg m− 3, increased Ksat by 1.8 times and increased the mean weight diameter (MWD) of soil aggregates from 2.6 cm to 4.0 cm. Incorporating biochar into the soil significantly reduced soil loss by 50% and 64% at 2.5% and 5% application rates, respectively, compared with the control. The formation of macroaggregates in the biochar-amended soils is the critical factor to improve soil erosion potential. Based on these results, a 5% application rate of biochar is considered as suitable for highly weathered soil because this application rate efficiently improves soil physiochemical properties and reduces soil loss.
Shih-Hao JienCorresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author,
Chien-Sheng Wang
Department of Soil and Water Conservation, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Pingtung 91201, Taiwan
The full article is available here:

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

NZ project funding for Eastern Indonesia (biochar project opportunity?)

The following announcement is currently on the NZ Government Electronic Tender System GETS. This looks like a great opportunity for a biochar related project... maybe based around TLUD stoves or community scale equipment such as Adam Retort. Please get in touch if your organization is interested or you know of a groups with the credentials and possible interest. I hope to be able to assist with finding local or NZ collaboration partners.

Design and implementation of an agriculture activity in Eastern Indonesia

"The New Zealand Aid Programme, acting through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is seeking registrations of interest (ROI) from suitably qualified and experienced organisations to partner with MFAT on the design and implementation of an agriculture activity that:
• improves economic opportunities for marginalised communities; and
• increases economic returns through improved agricultural productivity and/or agribusiness development
in one or more provinces in eastern Indonesia (Papua, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Nusa Tengara Barat).
MFAT’s indicative budget for this Activity is NZD4.5m over 3 years. Interested organisations will need to demonstrate experience of managing projects of this scale and MFAT will carry out due diligence during its procurement process to ensure that applicants have the capacity and capability to manage New Zealand government funding.
Further details on the work required and background on this Activity are contained in the attached ROI document.
Questions relating to this ROI must be received in writing to the official contact person by 12:00pm (NZ time) on Friday 12 July 2013."
Response date is 16 July - please let me know if you want a copy of the ROI document from the GETS site.
http://www.aid.govt.nz/where-we-work/asia/indonesia

Friday, 28 June 2013

British Biochar Foundation - conference videos

The British Biochar Foundation have generously provided video recordings on all presentations from their recent conference in Oxford. The conference was broadcast live as well... lets hope this is a new trend for remote conference attendance.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Characterization of Local Mill Rice Husk Charcoal and Its Effect on Compost Properties

This new publication on rice husk char application and testing can be added to the extensive list of research papers and interest in using these crop wastes as a biochar soil amendment. A search on this website for 'rice' will provide links to 14 previous posts related to the subject of RHC.
ABSTRACT
"Rice husk charcoal (RHC) is a by-product of rice processing mills which can befound in very large quantities in these mills. This industrial waste is largely unutilized, causing environmental pollution especially in the state of Kelantan. In order to increase its utilization, RHC was characterized and investigated for its potential in enhancing the composting process. Physico-chemical properties of RHC such as pH, nutrient content, ash content, CEC, adsorption kinetics, surface area, functional groups, surface structure and pore sizes were studied. The composting treatments were carried out by mixing 4% (wt/wt) and 6% wt/wt) RHC with organic substrates and with no RHC amended as control. Parameters such as daily temperature, CO2 flux, nutrient content, pH, moisture and total microbial count were measured during the composting process. Results showed that RHC is a highly alkaline material (pH 8.9) with a carbon content of 16% (wt/wt dry basis), CEC of 17cmol kg-1soil, BET surface area of 401 mg g-1 and a methylene blue Adsorption capacity of 38.8 mg g-1. The presence of C=O carboxyl-C, ketones and ester, aliphatic C=H, C=C benzene ring and C-H aromatic hydrogen suggests that RHC mainly comprises amorphous char, a random mixture of thermally altered molecules and aromatic polycondensates. The addition of RHC to organic matter accelerated the composting process through higher decomposition rates due to higher microbial population at the thermophilic stage with RHC acting as a bulking agent, as well as higher moisture and nutrient retention during composting. N losses were found to be lower with RHC composting."

Theeba, M.1*, Robert T. Bachmann2, Illani Z.I1, Zulkefli M1, Husni M.H.A3 and Samsuri A.W3
1Water and Soil Management Programme, Malaysian Agricultural Research Institute (MARDI) Persiaran UPM-MARDI, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
2Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Institute of Chemical and Bioengineering Technology (UNIKL-MICET), 78000 Alor Gajah Melaka, Malaysia
3Department of Land Management, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia , 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
Keywords: Rice husk charcoal, composting, physico-chemical, decomposition, nutrient retention
http://www.msss.com.my/mjss/Full%20Text/Vol%2016/Theeba.pdf
(I got a link warning on the msss site which I ignored. But please contact me if you want a copy of the report by email)

Sunday, 23 June 2013

tagging old posts

I've finally got around to going back through all my old posts to add tags (labels) for keyword searching - this works well for searches on location or subject.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Politicians blow their annual smoke over this year's slash & burn activities...

Name and shame companies behind haze: Singapore
"Singapore is calling on Indonesia to name the companies behind the illegal forest burning which has caused serious haze pollution this week across the Republic.

In a joint statement, both Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said they had spoken to their Indonesian counterparts to express their concern about the worsening haze situation.

Both Ministers had asked Indonesia to share the names of errant companies involved in illegal burning, as an Indonesian Forestry Ministry official had said that Malaysian and Singapore palm oil companies that had invested in Indonesia may be responsible for starting the fires in Riau."

http://www.eco-business.com/news/name-and-shame-companies-behind-haze-singapore/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EB+June+19th+2013+Newsletter&utm_content=EB+June+19th+2013+Newsletter+Version+B+CID_6c288c8aa42ab5a5a9d0df6b463e32cf&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=READ%20FULL%20STORY

I think there are practical solutions for changing these polluting and wasteful land clearing practices (and assuming they are legal!). Managed trench combustion has been demonstrated by Nik Foidl in central & south America to produce biochar for localized soil amendment.

Previous posts on this issue...
http://sea-biochar.blogspot.com/2011/10/regional-haze-issue-slash-char-solution.html
http://sea-biochar.blogspot.com/2009/07/ibi-support-for-south-east-asian.html


New post on this issue...

How corruption is fuelling Singapore's haze

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Biochar making (Philippines) ... where are the TLUD's?

"With many Filipinos still dependent on agriculture, the government faces the challenge of reviving the sector that has posted sluggish growth over the past several years.

Agriculture is also suffering from a degraded environment partly caused by chemical use in farming.

At the first National Conference on Philippine Biochar on April 17, agriculture experts and government and private sector representatives proposed a way to improve soil fertility—biochar, or agricultural waste transformed into organic fertilizer.

The carbonized rice hull (CRH), a type of biochar, is an example of a product of the partial burning of rice hull. Instead of turning the outermost cover of rice grains into waste, it can be carbonized and turned into soil fertilizer. ...."


http://opinion.inquirer.net/54617/biochar-making

The article includes a chart on production but is not a step-by-step guide and does not seem to include TLUD which I think is a serious omission. Energy utilization should be an important aspect for the future and TLUD is a great pathway via cook stoves.  A search on this site for "TLUD" pulls 4 reports... particular emphasis on the work of Paul Olivier in Vietnam (4Mar12 & 28Aug12).

Friday, 14 June 2013

More on Urban use of biochar


Looking past the unfortunate terminology describing biochar as "fertilizer", this article should be of interest for urban environments...

Chicago landscapers turn to ancient Amazonian fertilizer


... “It seemed like a beautifully ecological and non-chemical fertilizer,” Jacobs said. He had seen evidence that biochar improved agricultural productivity, but nothing for landscaping. “We took a leap of faith.” In the first year the honey locusts grew 24 inches, or about twice what Jacobs expected. Two years later, “They have continued to grow like... weeds,” he said.
Urban soils often lack carbon and struggle to sustain the diverse microbial communities that are essential to plant growth. Essentially charcoal, biochar is loaded with carbon and fosters microorganisms so well that it has been called a coral reef for soil.
Jacobs is quick to note that every site is different, and that his project isn’t a scientific study. But the cost difference is negligible, he said, and “something is making those trees grow better.” He now uses biochar in most of his downtown landscaping projects, as well as in his own garden. ...
http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/chicago-landscapers-turn-ancient-amazonian-fertilizer-107645

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Application of char products improves urban soil quality (Singapore)

This paper has appeared in Soil Use and Management, September 2012, 28, 329–336
Application of char products improves urban soil quality
Abstract
"Urban soils are a key component of the urban ecosystem but little research has considered their quality and management. The use of char or partially combusted char products as a soil amendment is becoming popular worldwide because of perceived benefits to fertility and the potential for increasing carbon sequestration. In this study, we assessed the effect of applying coarse and fine char material on the quality of four different types of soil-based root-zone mixes typically used for turfgrass and general landscaping in Singapore: clay loam soil, approved soil mix (ASM, 3 soil:2 compost:1 sand), 50:50 (sand ⁄soil) and 75:25 (sand ⁄soil). Char briquettes made from sawdust were mixed thoroughly at rates of 25, 50 and 75% by volume with the soil mixes. Results showed that addition of char (both coarse and fine) significantly enhanced the carbon content of the mixes, with the largest increase being associated with the 50% and 75% additions. Soil nutrients (total N, extractable P, K, Ca and Mg) and mean weight diameter of aggregates were also significantly increased following the application of char. The clay loam and the 50:50 and 75:25 soil mixes were more responsive to the addition of char than was ASM."

S. Ghosh(1,2), D.Yeo(3), B.Wilson(2,4) & L.F.Ow(1)
1 - Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology, National Parks Board, Singapore 259569, Singapore,
2 - School of Environmental and Rural Sciences, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia,
3 - Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117543, Singapore, and
4 - Office of Environment and Heritage, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia

Monday, 3 June 2013

Biochar increases biogas production in a batch digester charged with cattle manure (Lao PDR)

Abstract
"Two in vitro incubation experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that biochar would serve as support media for biofilm development in a biodigester and would as a result increase the yield of biogas whether added separately or enclosed in a nylon bag The treatments in experiment 1 were: control (no biochar), biochar added at 1% of the substrate DM in the biodigester, biochar added at 3% of the substrate DM in the biodigester. The substrate was fresh manure from cattle fed dried cassava root, fresh cassava foliage and urea. Proportions of water and manure were arranged so that the manure provided 5% of the solids in the biodigester. Gas production was measured daily over the fermentation period of 30 days; methane in the gas was measured after 21 and 28 days. In experiment 2, a 2*2 factorial arrangement with 4 replications was used to compare level of biochar: 1% of solids in the digester or none; and presence or absence of a cloth bag in the biodigester. The fermentation was followed over 21 days with daily measurement of gas production and content of methane in the gas at the end of the fermentation.

In experiment 1, incorporation of 1% (DM basis) of biochar in the biodigester increased gas production by 31% after 30 days of continuous fermentation; there were no benefits from increasing the biochar to 3% of the substrate DM. The methane content of the gas increased with the duration of the fermentation (24% higher at 28 compared with 21 days) but was not affected by the presence of biochar in the incubation medium. In experiment 2, adding 1% of biochar (DM basis) to the substrate increased gas production by 35%, reduced methane content of the gas by 8%, increased the DM solubilized (by 2%) and increased methane production per unit substrate solubilized by 25%. Presence of the cloth bag increased gas production when it also contained biochar but decreased it when added to the biodigester without biochar. There was a similar interaction for methane produced per unit substrate solubilized."
http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd24/12/sang24212.htm?goback=.gde_2446475_member_243421682

Hawaii Biochar Products Signs Historical Memorandum of Understanding (Vietnam)

Activity in Vietnam...
"Hawaii Biochar Products, a Puna, Hawaii based company will participate in a Vietnam Biochar industry testbed and training program. The program will further their mission to provide solutions for sustainable agriculture using organic materials and environmentally friendly processes."

"Together, they will support project proposals that create and strengthen a Vietnam biochar industry and related energy, policy, and training infrastructure matching CERED's leadership in climate change and sustainable agricultural practices and policy; Larta Institute Asia Pacific's network of expertise and contacts, project management and subject matter expertise; Hawaii Biochar's experience and technology utilization and network of technology sources; and EcoFarm's working knowledge of sustainable agricultural programs in Vietnam,..."
http://www.prlog.org/12131112-hawaii-biochar-products-signs-historical-memorandum-of-understanding.html

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

New rice-husk char research results from Sarah Carter in Cambodia

The Impact of Biochar Application on Soil Properties and Plant Growth of Pot Grown Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and Cabbage (Brassica chinensis)
Abstract: The effect of rice-husk char (potentially biochar) application on the growth of transplanted lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and Chinese cabbage (Brassica chinensis) was assessed in a pot experiment over a three crop (lettuce-cabbage-lettuce) cycle in Cambodia. The biochar was the by-product of a rice-husk gasification unit and consisted of 28.7% carbon (C) by mass. Biochar application rates to potting medium of 25, 50 and 150 g kg−1 were used with and without locally available fertilizers (a mixture of compost, liquid compost and lake sediment). The rice-husk biochar used was slightly alkaline (pH 7.79), increased the pH of the soil, and contained elevated levels of some trace metals and exchangeable cations (K, Ca and Mg) in comparison to the soil. The biochar treatments were found to increase the final biomass, root biomass, plant height and number of leaves in all the cropping cycles in comparison to no biochar treatments. The greatest biomass increase due to biochar additions (903%) was found in the soils without fertilization, rather than fertilized soils (483% with the same biochar application as in the “without fertilization” case). Over the cropping cycles the impact was reduced; a 363% increase in biomass was observed in the third lettuce cycle.
http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4395/3/2/404

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Is Biochar Really Sustainable? A critique of the UNDP Biochar project (Indonesia)

This critique on biochar gets its own torrefied response...
http://inesad.edu.bo/developmentroast/2013/04/is-biochar-really-sustainable-a-critique-of-the-undp-biochar-project/
My take on this... distributed rural biochar production and application should be limited by two factors - the need for distributed energy and soil improvement. We are a long way from fulfilling either of these and they should be balanced (not waste the energy).  We still don't have the simple low cost equipment at a community scale... but we do have TLUD's at a family scale.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Philippine Biochar Association (PBiA) in the news

Pro-biochar group supports government's efforts to achieve sufficiency in rice (link)

"THE Philippine Biochar Association (PBiA) is keen on backing government initiatives to attain rice sufficiency, achieve food security and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change. The PBiA expressed its support during the first national conference on biochar initiatives in the country at the Philippine Social Science Center on Tuesday. In his address, Philip Camara, PBiA founding member and a member of the lead advisory council, said what the country needs to do is to try removing carbon dioxide (C02) from the atmosphere and not just rely on neutrality or mitigation. “The biochar technology can help us do that,” he added. Biochar, now practiced by some farmers in Zambales province’s Botolan town, is charred biomass usually produced from agricultural and forestry organic waste material like rice hull, straw, corn stover, coconut husks, tree branches and fallen trees by applying heat with very limited oxygen to the biomass. The process releases synthesis gases or syngases that can be harnessed for renewable energy and leaves behind charcoal. The PBiA said biochar is intended for use in farm soils while charcoal is for cooking.

Biochar is also being supported by international leaders. Former US Vice President Al Gore said biochar is one of the newest and most exciting strategies for restoring carbon in depleted soils and sequestering significant amounts of CO2 for 1,000 years. Dr. Bernardo Tadeo, member of the PBiA board of trustees, said many farmers are now testing the use of biochar, with some reporting higher farm yields. During the two-day conference, attendees discussed organic farming, climate-change adaptation and mitigation, local biochar network and the integration of biochar into companies’ corporate social responsibility programs."

Friday, 12 April 2013

Biochar and conservation farming: results from tropical Africa

Biochar effect on maize yield and soil characteristics in five conservation farming sites in Zambia
Abstract:
"Biochar addition to agricultural soils can improve soil fertility, with the added bonus of climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration. Conservation farming (CF) is precision farming, often combining minimum tillage, crop rotation and residue retention. In the present farmer-led field trials carried out in Zambia, the use of a low dosage biochar combined with CF minimum tillage was tested as a way to increase crop yields. Using CF minimum tillage allows the biochar to be applied to the area where most of the plant roots are present and mirrors the fertilizer application in CF practices. The CF practice used comprised manually hoe-dug planting 10-L sized basins, where 10%–12% of the land was tilled. Pilot trials were performed with maize cob biochar and wood biochar on five soils with variable physical/chemical characteristics. At a dosage as low as 4 tons/ha, both biochars had a strong positive effect on maize yields in the coarse white aeolian sand of Kaoma, West-Zambia, with yields of 444% ± 114% (p = 0.06) and 352% ± 139% (p = 0.1) of the fertilized reference plots for maize and wood biochar, respectively. Thus for sandy acidic soils, CF and biochar amendment can be a promising combination for increasing harvest yield. Moderate but non-significant effects on yields were observed for maize and wood biochar in a red sandy clay loam ultisol east of Lusaka, central Zambia (University of Zambia, UNZA, site) with growth of 142% ± 42% (p > 0.2) and 131% ± 62% (p > 0.2) of fertilized reference plots, respectively. For three other soils (acidic and neutral clay loams and silty clay with variable cation exchange capacity, CEC), no significant effects on maize yields were observed (p > 0.2). In laboratory trials, 5% of the two biochars were added to the soil samples in order to study the effect of the biochar on physical and chemical soil characteristics. The large increase in crop yield in Kaoma soil was tentatively explained by a combination of an increased base saturation ..."

http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4395/3/2/256

Friday, 5 April 2013

The other WTO...

http://www.terra-preta-sanitation.net/cms/index.php?id=19
links here to work in the Philippines and Indonesia

http://www.sswm.info/category/implementation-tools/water-use/hardware/toilet-systems/terra-preta-toilet

Palm frond biochar production and characterisation

Co/ the Erich Knight search engine...

"Palm oil has been the world's main source of oil and fats since 2004, producing over 45 million tonnes in 2009. Malaysia alone has over 4·5 million hectares planted with oil palm and, based on common practice, ∼300 palm fronds are pruned per hectare per year. This agricultural waste is currently either being used as roughage feed or, more frequently, being left between rows of palm trees to prevent soil erosion, or for nutrient recycling purposes. This paper proposes an alternative use for palm frond as a source of biochar. A traditional method commonly use by gardeners in Malaysia to improve soil fertility was used to produce the biochar. A shallow earth pit was dug in the ground for the carbonisation process. The process is described and the impact of carbonisation on the earth wall is analysed and presented. The process was later re-assessed by using TGA-FTIR. Most of the hemicelluloses had fully disintegrated, but the depolymerisation of the cellulose was still incomplete at the carbonisation temperature. Most of the lignin aromatic structure was still present in the biochar. The carbonisation process was repeated in the laboratory and biochar was characterised by using BET, SEM and FTIR. An adsorption isotherm study was conducted and the experimental data were fitted to the Langmuir model. The model predicted Pb2+ adsorption rates of 83·3 mg/g, Cu2+ 41·4 mg/g, Ni2+ 13·0 mg/g and Zn2+ 19·7 mg/g."

A. Md Som, Z. Wang and A. Al-Tabbaa
Geotechnical and Environmental Research Group, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1PZ, UK.

Malaysian Soils Conference 2013 update (biochar papers)

Three biochar related papers and one poster will be presented at the Malaysian Soils conference (16-18 April 2013)

SESSION 6: Soil Physics and Biochar (Wednesday, 17 April)
Chairman: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Che Fauziah Ishak
16.15
Quality of biochars derived from empty fruit bunch and rice husk produced at different pyrolysis temperature
Claoston N., A.W. Samsuri , M.K. Ahmad Husni and M.S. Mohd Amran (Universiti Putra Malaysia)
16.30
Adsorption of NPK fertilizer on original and HA-coated palm kernel shell biochar
Arasu Uttran, Muhammad Ahmad, Robert Thomas Bachmann and Loh Soh Kheang (Universiti Kuala Lumpur)
16.45
Effect of empty fruit bunch biochar on rice cultivated in an acid sulphate soil system of rice intensification
Rosenani A. B., R. Zahidah, S. H. Ahmad, B. Jalili Seh-Bardan and C. Coulter (Universiti Putra Malaysia)

8. Effect of chicken manure and biochar (empty fruit brunch) amendments on kenaf yield planted on sandy soil (BRIS soil)
Norkhatina M.R., M.S. Malisa and J. Hamdan (Universiti Putra Malaysia)

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Biochar related publication from Malaysia...

Characterization of Local Mill Rice Husk Charcoal and Its Effect on Compost Properties
ABSTRACT
Rice Husk Charcoal (RHC) is a by-product of rice processing mills which can be found in very large quantities in these mills. This industrial waste is largely unutilized, causing environmental pollution especially in the state of Kelantan. In order to increase its utilization, RHC was characterized and investigated for its potential in enhancing the composting process. Physico-chemical properties of RHC such as pH, nutrient content, ash content, CEC, adsorption kinetics, surface area, functional groups, surface structure and pore sizes were studied. The composting treatments were carried out by mixing 4% (wt/wt) and 6% (wt/wt) RHC with organic substrates and with no RHC amended as control. Parameters such as daily temperature, CO fux, nutrient content, pH, moisture and total microbial count were measured during the composting process. Results showed that RHC is a highly alkaline material (pH 8.9) with a carbon content of 16% (wt/wt dry basis), CEC of 17cmol kg-1 soil, BET surface area of 401 mg g-1 and a methylene blue adsorption capacity of 38.8 mg g-1. The presence of C=O carboxyl-C, ketones and ester, aliphatic C=H, C=C benzene ring and C-H aromatic hydrogen suggests that RHC mainly comprises amorphous char, a random mixture of thermally altered molecules and aromatic polycondensates.The addition of RHC to organic matter accelerated the composting process through higher decomposition rates due to higher microbial population at the thermophilic stage with RHC acting as a bulking agent, as well as higher moisture and nutrient retention during composting. N losses were found to be lower with RHC composting

http://www.msss.com.my/mjss/Full%20Text/Vol%2016/Theeba.pdf

Also published, some initial findings coming from the MPOB BEK work...

Production and physico-chemical characterization of biochar from palm kernel shell
http://biochar.jp/Kong_etal.pdf
Related reports...
http://sea-biochar.blogspot.com/2012/10/unikl-mpob-biochar-trials-update.html
http://sea-biochar.blogspot.com/2011/03/bek-arrives-in-malaysia.html

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Northen Vietnam biochar program update

North Vietnam Villagers Develop Strategies to Help Combat Global Warming and Improve Household Health; Results of First 18 months Of Village Biochar Program 

Dr Stephen Joseph has provided a detailed report on his work in Northern Vietnam, first reported in my March 2012 post. The 10 page report can be downloaded from here...
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/biochar/attachments/folder/359216780/item/list

(... for group members, at least. Please let me know if you have any access problems - I can forward a copy)

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Biomass Asia Conference 2013 on 20-22 May, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Please note the following further announcement from Biomass-SP conference plans...
"Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the EU-Malaysia Biomass Sustainable Production Initiative (Biomass-SP), we are pleased to announce the Biomass Asia Conference 2013 on 20-22 May 2013 at Sunway Putra Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Building on the success of the inaugural EU-Asia Biomass Best Practices & Business Partnering Conference held in 2012, with over 600 participants from 29 countries and more than 80 speakers (Read all about it HERE), this dynamic event will unite industry professionals from all sectors of biomass value chain – bioenergy, bio-based products, agriculture, and high value chemicals – with special focus on Asia and Europe.

This year, Biomass-SP will jointly organize the Biomass Conference Asia 2013 with the Malaysia Biomass Industries Confederation (MBIC), the national biomass association representing biomass industry players in Malaysia. It is truly a one-stop networking opportunity for biomass professionals including current and future producers of bioenergy and bio-based products with biomass traders, technology providers, equipment manufacturers, investors, researchers and policy-makers.

We are pleased to extend you the invitation to submit your speaking interest at the 2013 Conference.

In addition to our annual focus on biomass as energy, bio-chemicals, bio-based products and agriculture, the Conference this year will also highlight new and emerging areas, among others:
· Updates on financing & government initiatives for biomass commercialisation
·
Solid waste as potential biomass feedstock
· Commercialisation of biochar
· Managing risks and supply chain in biomass projects

All sessions will be conducted in English; and each session will run in 30-45 minutes.

Speakers will be entitled to enjoy privileged fees to attend the Conference and its associated events. If you are interested in speaking at this Conference, please indicate your interest to participate by submitted the attached Speaker Interest Form via e-mail (info@biomass-sp.net) no later than 8 March 2013.

We look forward to your participation!
Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
NURHIDAYATI ABD AZIZ
Conference Secretariat
Biomass Asia Conference 2013

20 Jalan Diplomatik, Presint Diplomatik
62050 Putrajaya
T: 03-8884 8922 F: 03-8884 8838"


Brochure & Speaker Interest Form can be found here...
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/52700813/Call%20for%20Papers%20Brochure.pdf
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/52700813/Speaker%20Interest%20Form.doc

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Biochar article on AntariaNews feed from Indonesia

Biochar makes the new in Indonesia in connection with UNDP work... not sure how much (in)justice Goolge-translate has done. Thanks to Victoria Kamsler, Chief Research Officer at Katerva for finding this...

"Biochar" Mengolah Sampah Menjadi Berkah
http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http://sulteng.antaranews.com/berita/6621/biochar-mengolah-sampah-menjadi-berkah?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&goback=.gde_2446475_member_216923187&langpair=id|en&hl=en&ie=UTF8


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Malaysian biochar conferences - update

There are now three conferences in quick succession that include biochar related tracks or sessions. Biomass-SP have found it necessary to shift the date of their Seminar on Commercialization of Sustainable Biochar from March to April. This seminar is targeted to Malaysian SME's but due to strong regional interest, they have now introduced a biochar track to their annual conference and provided the following announcement...
“We regretfully inform that the Seminar on Commercialization of Sustainable Biochar is intended specifically for selected Malaysian Biomass SMEs under the EU-Malaysia Biomass Entrepreneurs Nurturing Program (EUM-BENP), which is a flagship project under Biomass-SP. However, given unexpected interest in our seminar, we have decided to dedicate a special track to Biochar at our upcoming annual Biomass Asia Conference 2013, which will be taking place on the 20 - 22 of May 2013 in Kuala Lumpur. We believe this conference would be a more suitable platform for our international participants as it focuses on regional biomass / biochar developments, and we gladly invite presentations and participation from interested parties.”

They have provided the following information on BAC 2013


The new (still tentative) dates for the Seminar on Commercialization of Sustainable Biochar are 18 and 19 April. This will overlap with the Soils 2013 conference but should allow attendance at both the Soils biochar track (Session 3) and the seminar in KL. So, in summary,

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

150 Gasifier cookstove - update

I've posted previously about Paul Olivier's work in Vietnam on cook stoves. He has produced a new and very informative presentation on his work which can be downloaded from here...
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/22013094/Paper/Presentations/Gasification.pptx

Its a large file (12MB) but worth the download effort. My previous post on his work is here...
http://sea-biochar.blogspot.com/2012/03/biomass-gasification-and-benefits-of.html

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

More biochar related conference activity in Malaysia

SOILS 2013 (Malaysian Society of Soil Science)
Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) For Soil Health Sustainability 
Session 3: Biochar and Biofertilizers
16 – 18 April, 2013
Bukit Gambang Resort City, 26300 Gambang, Pahang

Call for voluntary oral and poster papers
Scientific papers are in the form of oral and poster presentations. Participants who are wishing to present a paper should send an extended abstract together with the registration form. Proceedings will be prepared for the papers. Extended abstract with maximum 5 pages, which include title, author’s name and affiliation, introduction, methodology, results and discussion (including Tables and Figures), conclusion, acknowledgement (if any) and references. Text should be typed using MS Word; size of 12 with Times New Roman and single line spacing on A4 sized paper.
Due date for submission of extended abstract : 10 February 2013

You can access a copy of the announcement & registration form from the following link:
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/52700813/SOILS%202013%202nd%20annoucement.pdf

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Second International Biochar Training Course held at Nanjing Agricultural University (NJAU)

Announcement from Dr Stephen Joseph...
"Following the success of the first training course the Biochar and Green Agriculture Centre of Nanjing Agriculture University in Collaboration with the University of Newcastle of Australia and the University of NSW is announcing a second course to be held in October 2013. China now leads the world in the commercial production of both biochar and biochar technology. It has pioneered the development of combine NPK biochar granulated fertilizers.

Participants meet with village women during field trip to look at biochar field trials

This will be an opportunity to not only meet some of China’s leading experts but also biochar researchers and practitioners from other regions. Participants will be able to view commercial businesses producing biochar, energy and biochar NPK fertilizers as well as run small and medium scale biochar plant at the University.

The aims of this training course are;
1) To provide a world wide overview of the biochar industry, research and development and policy setting.
2) To provide an overview of what is known and what is not known about;
a) properties of biochars and wood vinegar as a function of feedstock, process conditions and technology and
b) crop responses of different biochars, biochar/NPK mixes and enhanced biochars, incorporated at different application rates and different pre and post treatments in different eco-systems.
2) To provide an understanding of the principles and practice of pyrolysis and biochar production and application.
3) To provide tools that allows participants to develop enhanced biochars to match local soil requirements and meet plant nutrient needs.
4) To explore the use of biochar in land remediation, waste management and animal health
5) To provide a framework that allows the development and implementation of sustainable and self sustaining biochar projects and/or establish biochar businesses
6) To provide an interactive environment where participants can exchange information and experiences.

1. Location: Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

2. Dates: 9th October 2013

3. Duration and Format: Duration is 7 days....."

Hopefully, you can access the file attachment that further details this announcement from the following link:
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/biochar/messages/14403?xm=1&m=e&l=1

Preparation of highly porous binderless activated carbon electrodes from fibres of oil palm empty fruit bunches for application in supercapacitors

Another interesting pathway for biomass carbon with links to SEA research activity...


Abstract

Fibres from oil palm empty fruit bunches, generated in large quantities by palm oil mills, were processed into self-adhesive carbon grains (SACG). Untreated and KOH-treated SACG were converted without binder into green monolith prior to N2-carbonisation and CO2-activation to produce highly porous binderless carbon monolith electrodes for supercapacitor applications. Characterisation of the pore structure of the electrodes revealed a significant advantage from combining the chemical and physical activation processes. The electrochemical measurements of the supercapacitor cells fabricated using these electrodes, using cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and galvanostatic charge-discharge techniques consistently found that approximately 3 hours of activation time, achieved via a multi-step heating profile, produced electrodes with a high surface area of 1704 m2 g-1 and a total pore volume of 0.889 cm3 g-1, corresponding to high values for the specific capacitance, specific energy and specific power of 150 F g-1, 4.297 W h kg-1 and 173 W kg-1, respectively.

Highlights

► Oil palm empty fruit bunches have been processed into supercapacitor electrodes. ► CO2 and KOH activations can produce highly porous binderless carbon electrodes. ► Small quantity KOH can reduce CO2 activation time significantly. ► Supercapacitors based on these electrodes exhibit excellence performances. ► Therefore this novel method offers a significant economic advantage.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Longterm Impact of Biochar in Soil (Season 2)

Fascinating results from Re-char in Kenya...

http://www.re-char.com/2013/01/24/the-longterm-impact-of-biochar-in-soil-season-2/

"Conclusions
Based on our findings, we conclude that the most effective staple-crop fertilization strategy for smallholders is to combine biochar with dilute human urine solution. With over 1,000 farmers in Western Kenya now using our technology, we find these test results are consistent with user reports.

Urine is readily available, and free to collect. While biochar must be applied at high concentrations (6,000 kg/acre) to see the greatest impacts, it can be added progressively over time, to sustainably increase yields. With each seasonal application, farmers will see an improvement in their yield. By eliminating chemical fertilizer consumption, a farmer can save up to $200/year."

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

ECHO Asia biochar activity in Thailand & Mayanmar

I've just discovered that Rick Burnette from ECHO Asia in Thailand is publishing an associated blog and a search on this blogsite reveals 3 postings on their biochar associated work...
http://sustainabilityquest.blogspot.com/2011/12/echo-asia-biochar-trial.html
http://sustainabilityquest.blogspot.com/2012/06/preparing-for-biochar-study.html
http://sustainabilityquest.blogspot.com/2012/11/workshop-in-myanmar.html#comment-form

Great to see some activity beginning in Mayanmar

Nordic Development Fund - biochar project in Nepal

This well funded biochar project is not strictly SEA but great to see this scale of activity kicking off in the region...

Nepal Pilot Project to Test the Climate Change Benefits of Biochar
Project period: 2013-2015
Partner agency: Asian Development Bank

Objectives
The Pilot Project to Test the Climate Change Benefits of Biochar, is an add-on component to an on-going Strategic Program for Climate Resilience (SPCR) project, Mainstreaming Climate Risk Management in Development, lead by the Asian Development Bank.

The objective of the biochar project is to pilot-test, in three agro-ecological zones of Nepal, biochar production as a climate change adapting soil amendment, carbon sequestration method, and rural energy source in Nepal. Biochar is a stable form of charcoal produced from heating natural organic materials (agricultural waste, woodchips, manure) in a high temperature, low oxygen process known as pyrolysis. Biochar is said to have multiple benefits, both in terms of adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. The aim is to test and demonstrate these benefits in Nepal.

The project will adopt an ecosystem approach, i.e. using things available in the local area to improve food and fuel security and rural energy, while reducing farmers’ dependence on external inputs such as fertilizers and fossil fuels. The target group will be households and farmers, which will be selected from 3 agro-climatic zones using the targeting criteria of degraded land and water stressed environment. The biochar will be produced in biochar cook stoves, which is a type of improved cook stove.

Nepal is a suitable country to pilot test the benefits of biochar due to i) the severe problem of access to rural areas in Nepal, causing many farmers to consistently miss out on agricultural inputs; ii) the scope for piloting biochar in three agro climatic zones; iii) the Government of Nepal’s priority on the agriculture and energy sectors; and iv) the high relative vulnerability of Nepal to climate change.

ADB will be the executing agency, carrying out the procurement and being the contracting party. The Ministry of Agriculture Development will be responsible for coordination and monitoring on behalf of the government. The Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) will take the lead in identifying pilot sites, designing and conducting agronomic field trials and overall project management, while the National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST) will take responsibility for commissioning and testing the two types of pyrolysis units and production and testing of biochar.

Financing
The total cost of the biochar component is USD 650,000, approximately EUR 500,000. NDF financing will be EUR 460,000. The Government of Nepal will provide USD 50,000. NDF Contact
Country Program Manager Emeli Möller
Telephone +358 10 618 002
http://www.ndf.fi/index.php?id=195

Monday, 21 January 2013

Malaysian biochar seminar announcement


"... we are pleased to inform you that Biomass-SP will be organizing a 2-day seminar on the Commercialization of Sustainable Biochar on the 19 – 20 March 2013 at Hotel Equatorial Bangi, Malaysia.

.... We would greatly appreciate it if you could indicate your interest to present at the seminar no later than 31 January 2013...

Please do not hesitate to contact me, Ms. Sofie Shaaruddin at 03 8884 8936 or via email at info@biomass-sp.net should you have further questions. On behalf of biomass-SP, I would like to convey our gratitude to your kind consideration and support, and we look forward to a favorable response.

Thank you.
Best regards,

Sofie Shaaruddin
Reseach Analyst
Biomass-SP
Tel: +603 8884 8936
Fax: +603 8884 8838

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Synergisms between Compost and Biochar for Sustainable Soil Amelioration

The link below leads to a detailed new report on...
"Synergisms between Compost and Biochar for Sustainable Soil Amelioration"
by...
Daniel Fischer* and Bruno Glaser
Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg,
Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Soil Biogeochemistry, Halle, Germany

http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/27163/InTech-Synergisms_between_compost_and_biochar_for_sustainable_soil_amelioration.pdf

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves - Cambodia conference



I note that Dr TLUD (Paul Anderson) will be attending the following conference in Cambodia, 18-22 March so biochar will be a focus of attention at this conference...

"We invite you to the Clean Cooking Forum 2013: Igniting Change, Fueling Markets & Sparking Adoption

The goal of the Forum is to further a market-based approach to the global adoption of clean cooking solutions, and to continue to drive innovations in research, market development, standards and testing, project finance, and policy development. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is very excited to be holding the Forum in Southeast Asia – a region of enormous potential for the clean cookstoves and fuels sector, and a dynamic market for many of our partners.
Participants at the Forum can expect to network with professionals from the clean cookstoves and fuels sector, exchange ideas and experiences with global leaders from the finance, development, health, and environment fields, learn new techniques for improving and measuring the effectiveness of their clean cooking projects and programs, and gather the latest information on cutting edge research and funding opportunities.  In addition, the Forum will also provide attendees with a unique opportunity to learn from their peers through an exploration of innovative best practices and case studies, as well as through discussions of shared experiences in the sector during informal discussions throughout the week.
The sector has never been more cohesive and prepared to tackle this silent killer that impacts almost half the world’s population. The Forum will give us the opportunity to come together, learn from one another, and move our collective goals forward, further imbued with the belief that cooking shouldn’t kill.
Sincerely,
The Forum Coordination Group"
http://www.cleancooking2013.org/

Philippine Biochar Conference, 17-18 April 2013

The Philippine Biochar Association have presented to IBI, a concept paper for their biochar conference plans in Quezon City in April this year. I anticipate that a link to a conference website will be available soon but in the mean time, I suggest contacting PBA direct for participation details.