Friday, 27 March 2015

Sustainable Technologies for Small-Scale Biochar Production—A Review

There are strong Malaysian links to this new publication. Nsamba studied in Malaysia under Prof. Bachmann and Sarah and Gerard have been frequent visitors to the region associated with their biochar research projects. The full report is available here.

Sustainable Technologies for Small-Scale Biochar Production—A Review

Charcoal has found enormous application in both agriculture (AKA biochar) and other sectors. Despite its potential benefits, small scale technologies relevant for its production remain a challenge. Technologies striking a balance between user friendliness, energy efficiency, ease of adaptation and limited emissions could easily be integrated into the local community for the sustainable production of biochar answering both technical and socio-economic aspects. These technologies can be customized to recover the produced heat alongside biochar and the producer gas. The purpose of this work is to review the state of the art in small scale technologies, their associated risks and challenges as well as research gaps for future work. Factors affecting biochar production have been discussed and temperature is known to heavily influence the biomass to biochar conversion process. Based on the reviewed work, there is a need to develop and promote sustainable and efficient technologies that can be integrated into biochar production systems. There is also further need to develop portable, economically viable technologies that could be integrated into the biochar production process without compromising the quality of produced biochar. Such technologies at midscale level can be channeled into conventional small scale farmer use in order that the farmers can process their own biochar.

Hussein Kisiki Nsamba1,2,3, Sarah E. Hale4, Gerard Cornelissen4, Robert Thomas Bachmann1
1. Malaysian Institute of Chemical and Bioengineering Technology (MICET), Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

2. Section of Industrial Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
3. Invention Plus Limited, Kampala, Uganda.
4. Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), Oslo, Norway

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Biochar commercialisation in Malaysia

A Malay language newspaper has recently included an article on biochar based around work emanating from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). The online article is in Malay here. I've used an online translation service that provides a rather poor English translation.
The article describes UPM work with biomass from the palm oil industry and product development activities leading to trial product sales at a horticulture event last November. I'm sure we will hear more about this at the biochar workshop (previous post).

Malaysian Biochar Workshop


"We are pleased to announce that the Biochar Malaysia Association (Persatuan Biochar Malaysia) will be organizing the Biochar Malaysia Workshop 2015 on the 6th of April 2015 in the Faculty of Engineering, UPM with the theme 'Biochar Production & Utilization for Cleaner Environment & Crop Production in Malaysia'. The objective of this workshop is to obtain the latest updates regarding biochar production and utilization in sustainable agriculture system.
Therefore, we would like to extend an invitation to (you) for attending this workshop. We would also be delighted if (you) could help us disseminate the announcement of this workshop. For further information, please refer to the attached brochure. With this email also attached the BMA membership form and the brochure to Soil Science Conference of Malaysia 2015."

Reply or email to me if you want to get hold of the attachments that accompanied this email invitation. febiochar(at)

Thursday, 5 March 2015

International Biochar Symposium 28-29 May

This biochar conference in Germany has strong Malaysian links via UPM. It has an impressive lineup of speakers. Check out the website.
International Biochar Symposium 2015
Biochar – Contribution to Sustainable Agriculture
28 – 29 May 2015, Seminaris SeeHotel Potsdam, Germany
"During the last years the application of biochar to arable land has been suggested as a method to improve soil fertility and plant growth, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon for decades or centuries. But holistic scientific research to identify environmental as well as economic potentials of biochar in the tropics and especially in the temperate zones is limited and needs to be improved. Furthermore, biochars may differ substantially in their chemical, physical and biological properties and therefore in their fate after soil application depending on the biomass material and conversion technology used. Hence, the identification of biochar properties responsible for positive (and negative) impacts on soil fertility, greenhouse gases and carbon sequestration is needed, followed by the development of methods to optimize these biochar properties and soil improvement. The projects “Biochar in Agriculture – Perspectives for Germany and Malaysia” ( and APECS (Anaerobic Pathways to Renewable Energies and Carbon Sinks) ( focus on these research questions. Within this symposium the results of both projects and related research results by other scientists shall be presented and discussed."

This German-Malaysian research link was reported previously here...