Thursday, 4 May 2017

IBI Webinar - Biochar building materials & composites

International Biochar Initiative - Educational Webinar Series
 Biochar Building Materials & Composites
 May 23, 2017 • 5:00 - 6:30 pm EDT
While the use of biochar as a soil amendment has been researched for more than a decade, the use of carbonized biomass in building materials and other composites is just beginning to flourish.  Not only can carbon be sequestered in building materials, but using biochar can lower the embodied energy of such materials.  Importantly various properties of the building materials and composites can be enhanced when biochar is added to cement and other materials.  This Webinar brings together three of the leaders in the field of biochar use in building materials and composites to provide a glimpse into the latest research on this topic.
Hans-Peter Schmidt, head of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Strategies, was an early pioneer in using biochar in plasters and concrete.  He applied his biochar enhanced plaster to his wine cellar as well as to the headquarters of the Ithaka Institute and has made a variety of different building materials.  Hans-Peter will provide an update on how his early biochar based materials have fared as well as an update on other more recent research collaborations on the use of biochar based materials in tunnels.
Harn Wei Kua, an Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore, has worked on sustainable building materials and methods for many years.  He has recently published a paper on the benefits of using biochar made from food waste and saw dust in cementitious mortar which will be described in this webinar.  He will also speak about the various concrete properties that biochar can improve.
John McDonald-Wharry is a researcher based in New Zealand that has been studying the use of biochar in various construction and composite materials.  He will provide an overview of how material properties typically change with increasing degree of carbonization (or charring intensity), and discuss different approaches to creating composite materials from chars and carbonized biomass.  John will also address various claimed functionality of char-containing composites and what evidence is currently available as well as some potential issues and challenges with biochar-containing composites and their research, development and implementation.
This webinar will be of interest to architects, urban planners, the construction industry, as well biochar producers, researchers, climate researchers and more.  An interactive Q&A period will follow at the end of the Webinar. 
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.
Presenters Schmidt
Hans-Peter Schmidt has been a pioneer in the field of biochar since 2008.  He has worked on all aspects of biochar including the creation of a wide variety of biochar production equipment, biochar production in high and low technology scenarios, application techniques, field trial design, biochar characterization, and biochar education (creator of the Ithaka Journal).  In addition, Hans-Peter has designed and used biochar plaster as a building material and is working with researchers on its use in 3D printing. He has extensive experience working across Europe and has worked on developing world projects as well including Nepal, Bangladesh and Ghana.
  Harn_Wai_KuaHarn Wai Kua
Associate Professor Kua is the current Assistant Dean (Academic) of the School of Design and Environment, and the co-leader of the Smart Materials Laboratory in the Department of Building of the National University of Singapore. He graduated from the Building Technology Program of MIT and his current research interest is in the areas of life cycle sustainability assessment of building materials and bio-based building materials that promote life cycle sustainability.

John McDonald-Wharry John McDonald-Wharry
John McDonald-Wharry completed a doctoral research project in chemistry and engineering at the University of Waikato which was started in 2010. This project involved developing structural models for char chemistry, researching techniques for the characterization of biomass chars, and the creation of composite materials from carbonized herbaceous leaf fibers. This research also involved chemical analysis of other carbonaceous materials such as activated carbons, carbon nanotubes, fullerenes, carbon fibers and graphites. In 2014, John was able to apply biochar screening and composite formulation know-how from PhD work to create a range of char-based composites from pine biochars produced by Massey University's New Zealand Biochar Research Centre. John is currently employed on an "Additive manufacturing and 3D and/or 4D printing of bio-composites" project involving composite formulation design and material science research.
John McDonald-Wharry 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 net work 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  If you have suggestions for future webinars, please send them to:
If you are interested in learning more about the topic of biochar building material, consider attending the upcoming workshop Biochar From the Ground Up, June 12 - 16 in Summertown, Tennessee.
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