What is the greatest local need? That would lead to an appropriate application. I would start with simple filtration projects. Parallel what you do on the land with lab work in a local university. Focus on small applications. If you have about 150 m3 of biochar that would allow you to do replicates. All of the applications you listed are possible and have been tried at some level. We just don’t have a lot of data yet. The composition of local soils and water quality will also affect how you design filters and media.
I would suggest a combined approach. You should find a local civil engineer who designs wastewater structures, and someone who understands local soils and water quality. (Mexico is full of civil engineers and agronomists.) That would give you an institutional tie-in for when it works. Present it as an opportunity rather than paid project since you’re not likely to have a budget. You are already working with iCATIS (http://www.icatis.org/CATIS-MX ) and probably CEDESA (http://cedesa.org.mx/ ) . There are civil engineers in Arizona on this list with associates in Mexico who would probably be interested in a project.
You could host an Engineers Without Borders project. I’m sure there are many EWB water projects in Mexico. Northern Illinois University is doing water filtration projects with ICATIS (See NIU/iCATIS below). Stoves projects have found that the success of EWB associated projects depends on the professors or on the continuity of specific student leaders (3 years max).
The second part is to do water treatment on someone’s farm or in a community. It would be more of a community project, a barn raising, with people pitching in. Civil works in any country are notoriously slow.
iCATIS (international Center for Appropriate Technology and Indigenous Sustainability)
The NIU (Northern Illinois University) chapter focuses on alleviating water quality issues in Guanajuato, Mexico. This project is separately sponsored by the international Center for Appropriate Technology and Indigenous Sustainability (iCATIS). Our objective is to effectively remove anthropogenic and environmental contaminants from this economically-limited community, we aim to research and develop filtration attachments to existing ceramic filtration designs. These filtration designs will reduce turbidity and eliminate bacteria within the current water source.
- See more at: http://www.niu.edu/ewb/projects/index.shtml#sthash.vHGjrKO2.dpuf
Mark Ludlow on this list is in Sonora and will no doubt have ideas about what, why and how
Ramon Agustin Bacre Gonzalx, Biotecnologia Mexicana contra del Cambio Climatico, http://www.bmcc.com.mx/ (Attended USBI 2013 in Amherst)
Kyle Young. katbambu@... (IBI 2009) lives in Arizona and works in Sonora, Mexico with the Fundacion Apoyo del Infantil http://www.fai-son.org/
IBI: There are five other IBI members in Mexico besides yourself. Julie Major worked with groups in Chihuahua (2010). Thayer will no doubt have contacts in Mexico.
I live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Miguel_de_Allende), where we've received a windfall shipment of biochar from an environmental philanthropic donor. This material is being put to good use in various field trials for vegetable crops, compost blends and open-field seeding.
Like so many growing urban areas in less-developed countries, we face serious water quality challenges, exacerbated by under-capacity facilities and seasonally intense rainfall. Thanks to the tireless work of volunteer environmental organizations, we have the ear of the municipality and an opportunity to implement demonstration pilot projects to improve water quality. We need case studies and data to bolster our case.
This biochar has been tested and found to have both high adsorptivity of known environmental toxins and high porosity to support biofilms (metabolize organic pollutants). Projects may include filtration vaults for urban runoff, swales and settling lagoons for bioremediation, incorporation into polishing filters at treatment facility outlets, or other.
If you have been involved with or know of any projects using biochar for filtration or water quality remediation, or know of any relevant literature references, please share!