The Blog

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Denver and Golden BioChar

Catherine and Daniel spent the morning cruising thrift stores in Denver while Sean and I cruised the bike stores.  We both got caught in thunderstorms and while Catherine and Daniel waited out the storm under an underpass, Sean and I got Japanese food for lunch at a very friendly, very tasty small restaurant.
Later in the afternoon, we headed up the 20 mile bike trail to Golden to participate in the BioChar event.
So what is biochar?  I think it's one of the best kept secrets in the sustainable solutions portfolio.
Biochar is basically charcoal created out of woody biomass.  Wood chips, straw and any other relatively dry biomass is burned in a chamber with controlled air intake so that the biomass only burns down to char, not all the way to ash.
This process accomplishes two very impressive results.  First, the char has hugely significant value as a soil enhancer.  In agriculture, it improves the quality of the soil so that both water use and fertilization needs are greatly reduced.  There was also talk at the event about the value to damaged topsoil from mining and drilling operations.  There were a number of scientists at the event who are doing studies with the biochar including people from the USGS (United States Geological Survey) as well as some from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).  BEC (Biochar Engineering Corporation) is working closely with both groups tho help with the educational process around the value of Biochar.  Which brings me to the second impressive result resulting from the creation of Biochar.  Once the Biochar is in the soil, the carbon still remaining in the Char will stay in the soil for 1,000 years, effectively sequestering carbon.  So, Biochar offers a way to improve soil conditions while taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in the soil.  That's why I think Biochar is the best kept secret around.
The units that BEC manufacture are small enough to fit on a flatbed and can be hauled to the biomass, rather than hauling the biomass to a central plant. This eliminates the huge financial and emissions cost of hauling biomass to a large central facility.  To learn more about the process and the company, check out their website  
After the event, Daniel, his friend Megan and Sean rode the bikes back to Daniel's house while Catherine and I drove home.   They were very late getting home and Catherine and I felt like worried parents.  I guess it comes natural to parents to worry!.
Bike shop Cruising in Denver - Looking for parts for tomorrow's "build"
Bike Shop with the same name as our electronic readout units.
Proprietors of our lunch spot covering my bike to protect it from the rain - So Sweet!!
Tour guide Daniel bringing us into Golden
BioChar unit in Operation
Daniel in his element
Soil Scientist Francisco Calderon slipping off with a couple of bags of Char for his work.
Jim Fournier - CEO of Biochar Engineering Corporation - A great guy
The sun is shining on The Green Riders and some of the BEC crew

A little "event side" bike mechanics - always


  1. To me, in the long run, the final arbiter / accountancy / measure of sustainability will be
    soil carbon content. Once this royal road is constructed, traffic cops ( Carbon Board ) in place, the truth of land-management and Biochar systems will be self-evident.

    A dream I've had for years is to base the coming carbon economy firmly on the foundation of top soils. My read of the agronomic history of civilization shows that the Kayopo Amazon Indians and the Egyptians were the only ones to maintain fertility for the long haul, millennium scales. Egypt has now forsaken their geologic advantage by building the Aswan dam, and are stuck, with the rest of us, in the soil C mining, NPK rat race to the bottom. The meta-analysis of Syn-N and soil Carbon content show our dilemma;

    The Ag Soil Carbon standard is in final review by the AMS branch at USDA.

    Since we have filled the air , filling the seas to full, Soil is the Only Beneficial place left.
    Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.

    Hope to see you at ISU for the 2010 US Biochar Conference

    Dr. Robert Brown , and the team in Ames Iowa are planing the next national biochar conference. The Conference will be June 27-30 in Ames Iowa Hosted by Iowa State University.

    WorldStoves ; ( ) and
    The Biochar Fund deserves your attention and support.
    Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon

    NSF Awards $1.6M to BREAD: Biochar Inoculants for Enabling Smallholder Agriculture

    Thanks for your efforts.

    Erich J. Knight
    Chairman; Markets and Business Opportunities Review Committee
    US BiocharConference, at Iowa State University, June 27-30

    EcoTechnologies Group Technical Adviser
    Shenandoah Gardens (Owner)
    1047 Dave Barry Rd.
    McGaheysville, VA. 22840
    540 289 9750
    Co-Administrator, Biochar Data base & Discussion list TP-REPP

  2. Are you on track for where you wanted to be at this time in your journey?

  3. You want to know all the secrets about biochar ?
    This book will help !

    Here practice and theory merge under a single cover of "The Biochar Revolution" and reveals hidden secrets of science called Biochar