Re: The Drawdown Review, New Website, Our Team is Growing. #drawdown


d.michael.shafer@gmail.com
 

Ron,

See my notes below in your text. All caps to distinguish.

M

On Tue, Mar 10, 2020 at 1:35 AM Ronal Larson <rongretlarson@...> wrote:
Michael,  Geoff (see very end),  and ccs. 

Thanks for this additional information.

Michael is referring mostly to this part of my message (the word “residue” appears a few other times in the original):

Biochar availability was calculated using the method (residue production = grain production * straw to grain ratio) given for crop residue estimation from the crop production by Lal 2005 and Woolf 2010. Crop production data was taken for the year 1991, 2001, and 2014 and future availability of biochar was estimated by the interpolation of this data set.

RWL5c:   Availability is not given here - but they are maybe using only one crop (wheat)?   I’ll try to figure this out later.  These are two old reports and seem to leave out forests.  Woolf says no change in yield.
RON, YOU NEED TO GO INTO THIS. (1) CORN, NOT WHEAT, IS THE MOST RAPIDLY SPREADING CROP IN THE WORLD. (2) CORN IS 77.8% WASTE. LEFT OUT OF THESE CALCULATIONS ARE, AS YOU NOTE, FORESTS, BUT ALSO ORCHARDS. HERE WE HAVE 10s OF THOUSANDS OF HA OF ORCHARDS THAT GIVE UP 1.25 TONNES OF DRY PRUNINGS A YEAR. THE GLOBAL AVERAGE STARTS AT HALF A TONNE/HA/YEAR. SEE BELOW. COLLECTIVELY, THE WORLD TOTAL IS HUGE. ADD TO THIS ALL OF THE MILLIONS OF TONNES OF BRANCHES AND DEAD TREES FROM URBAN AREAS AND YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT A LOT. (NYC, FOR EXAMPLE, COLLECTS MILLIONS OF LBS OF DEAD STUFF ANNUALLY. LAST I LOOKED, IT SPENT $14 M TO CHIP AND LANDFILL IT. I SUSPECT THAT THE GREAT MAJORITY OF THE WORLD'S BIG CITIES COLLECT DEAD BRANCHES AND TREES - BUT THEN WHAT? IF THEY DO NOT BURN THEM, I BET THEY DO NOT BIOCHAR THEM.

Integration[4]

A key constraint for this solution is the total availability of biomass feedstock. The model assumes that the maximum feedstock available is 50 percent of crop residues that are currently burned, with no dedicated feedstock production. This is because crop residues are utilized in solutions like conservation agriculture, and in the model all dedicated biomass feedstocks are used in biomass energy production, with none available for biochar.

[RWL12:  So here we have no way of knowing the availability.  This may be why they have not much CDR after 30 years.   Cite #4 may have some tonnes biomass per year number related to 50%, buT so far I haven’t found it.
 
IT MAY BE THAT IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD CROP RESIDUES ARE ALL CONSUMED FOR FUEL OR USED IN CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE, BUT THE DEVELOPED WORLD IS A VERY SMALL PLACE AND GROWS A RELATIVELY SMALL PORTION OF THE WORLD'S TOTAL CROPS. I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO SEE EVIDENCE THAT THIS IS TRUE IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD. I CAN NAME A BIOMASS POWER PROJECT OR TWO, BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT BIOMASS ENERGY IS VERY, VERY UNCOMMON. I CAN ALSO TELL YOU THAT THE PORTION OF AGRICULTURAL RESIDUES IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD EMPLOYED IN "CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE" IS VANISHLY SMALL.

I HAVE ALWAYS ASSUMED THAT ABOUT 50% OF TOTAL CROP WASTE IS OPEN FIELD BURNED. BY MY CALCULATIONS, THIS 50% COMES TO ABOUT 10.5 BILLION TONNES OF WASTE ANNUALLY. NO, I DO NOT THINK THAT ANYONE IS GROWING DEDICATED BIOMASS FEEDSTOCK, ALTHOUGH THERE ARE SUPER VEDIER GRASSES THAT WOULD WORK. THE 50% IS WHAT IS NOT BEING USED FOR FODDER, CONSTRUCTION OR WHATEVER. IT IS ALL AVAILABLE FOR BIOCHAR. 
Total demand for biochar in 2050 is estimated at 1615.57 million metric tons.  
[RWL -  This value near 1.6 Gt biochar is not too far off of Michael’s number  “2” below.  I need to look again, but think this is somewhat close to the Woolf-Amonette result, which also predominantly used residues.

Michael:  I admire your list below.  But is it possible that you and the “Drawdown” people are not too far apart?   My view is that we must use the residues (as you are), but also need to use many other biomass resources - including growth only intended for biochar. 
I HAVE SPENT THE PAST YEARS TALKING EXCLUSIVELY ABOUT THE USE OF CROP WASTES FOR SEVERAL REASONS. FIRST, UNLESS WE TAKE UP THE CHALLENGE OF THE CROP WASTES ON THE SMALL FARMS OF THE DEVELOPING WORLD, THEY WILL CONTINUE TO BE BURNED. WHY? BECAUSE IT WILL BE EASIER AND CHEAPER TO GROW ALTERNATIVES. WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? WE WILL BE PRODUCING BIOMASS TO MAKE BIOCHAR TO OFF-SET THE CLIMATE CHANGE EMISSIONS FROM THE SMALL FARMERS, WHILE STILL SUFFERING THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE BLACK CARBON, SMOG PRECURSORS, AND PM2.5 EMISSIONS. THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO ME. SECOND, THERE HAS BEEN AN ACTIVE ANTI-BIOCHAR MOVEMENT THAT HAS ARGUED (BECAUSE OF THE 10 T/HA RULE) THAT THE USE OF BIOCHAR NECESSARILY MEANS THE DESTRUCTION OF FORESTS. I HAVE TRIED TO ARGUE THAT THE 10T/HA RULE MAY APPLY IN ITHICA, BUT NOT IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH, WHILE THE AMOUNT OF CROP WASTE AVAILABLE MEANS THAT WE CAN AVOID BURNING FORESTS AND STOP MAKING CHARCOAL FROM WOOD. THIRD, I AM A DEFENDER OF THE RURAL POOR. THEY PROFIT BY ANY EFFORT TO CONVERT CROP WASTE TO BIOCHAR. THE ONLY PEOPLE TO PROFIT FROM THE PLANTATION PRODUCTION OF BIOMASS WILL BE THE RICH.

I AM THEREFORE ALL FOR EXHAUSTING OUR WASTE BIOMASS RESERVES TO PRODUCE BIOCHAR. I AM NOT AT THIS POINT WILLING TO ARGUE FOR THE DELIBERATE PRODUCTION OF BIOMASS TO MAKE BIOCHAR BOTH BECAUSE OF THE ENERGY EXPENDITURE INVOLVED IN DOING SO AND BECAUSE OF THE INEQUALITY THAT DOING SO WILL PRODUCE. 

  Michael has done some amazing biochar work himself - using char made at low cost in modified “Kon Tikis”.   I believe almost entirely using ag residues. 

ENTIRELY 

See also some additions below:

On Mar 9, 2020, at 1:40 AM, d.michael.shafer@... wrote:

Ron, I am sure that it is not the most important aspect of your critique, but the assumptions about grain to waste are entirely wrong. Let me offer some examples:
Coarse grains include barley, buckwheat, canary seed, fonio, millet, rye, oats, sorghum, and triticale
Cassava               1 tonne of cassava produces 100 kg of cassava peal waste
Coconut               1 tonne of coconut produces 650 kg of husk and shell waste
Corn                     1 tonne of corn produces 4 tonnes of stalk, cob and husk waste
Fresh veggies     1 tonne of fresh veggies produces 1 tonne of waste
Ground nut         1 tonne of ground nuts produces 3.5 tonnes of hay
Millet                    1 tonne of millet produces 2 tonnes of stalk and other waste
Plantains              1 tonne of plantains (or bananas) produces 2 tonnes of waste
Potatoes              1 tonne of potatoes/roots/tubers produces 200 kg waste (not including field losses)
Rice                      1 tonne of rice produces 1.22 tonnes of straw and husk waste
Soy                        1 tonne of soy beans produces 1.8 tonnes of straw and shell waste
Sugar beet          1 tonne of sugar beet produces 200-300 kg of waste
Sugar cane          I tonne of sugar cane produces 200 kg of waste
Tomatoes            1 tonne of tomatoes produces 200 kg of waste
Wheat                  1 tonne of wheat produces 1.17 tonnes of waste

If one works with the FAOSTAT figures for cereal and coarse grain production, the lowest likely ratio of waste to grain is 2 to 1. If you apply this to the whole of developing world food production, total production of 10 billion tonnes generates roughly 20 billion tonnes of crop waste. At a 20% conversion rate, this could produce 4 billion tonnes of biochar. If - as is generally assumed - just 50% of it is burned, this 50% would produce 2 billion tonnes of biochar. The conversion to biochar is important not least for the elimination of CO2e, largely in the form of methane and NOx, both of which are emitted by both field fires and all forms of decomposition. As a rule of thumb, a tonne of crop waste open field burned will generate 1.073 tonnes of CO2e in the form of CH4 and NOx.

[RWL:   Michael - can you give a cite for this last (1.073) number?  Th usual ratio of 44/12 = 3.67 for just carbon dioxide doesn’t hold here as it is assumed that this CO2 (as with forestry) is recycled shortly.

NOT CO2, CO2E. SEE BELOW.
 
I also hope there can be some discussion on whether there is a way to avoid the 50% drop-off - given excellent economics of pyrolyzing a bigger percentage.Or:  why burn in the field - and lose money doing so?

I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR THREE YEARS. THE ANSWER IS NOT THAT FARMERS PREFER TO BURN, IT IS THAT THERE IS NO BETTER ALTERNATIVE TO BURNING. BURNING IS NOT DISCRETIONARY, AS MOST PEOPLE ASSUME. IT IS NECESSARY. DUE TO TERRAIN, LACK OF LABOR, HEAT, ETC., FARMERS HAVE NO OTHER WAY TO CLEAR WASTE AND WEEDS FROM THEIR FIELDS BEFORE PLANTING. OUT THERE, RON, THERE ARE NO "EXCELLENT ECONOMICS OF PYROLYZING." REALLY. THE FIRST TIME I TOLD PEOPLE THAT I WAS GOING TO PAY FARMERS TO MAKE BIOCHAR FROM WASTE INSTEAD OF BURNING IT, EVERYONE - AND I MEAN EVERYONE - JUST LAUGHED AT ME. THE FARMERS, HOWEVER, MADE ME 15,000 BAGS OF CHAR IN 6 WEEKS BEFORE I RAN OUT OF MONEY. BY BOOT STRAPPING, I THINK THAT TODAY I HAVE A WORKABLE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE BUSINESS MODEL THAT WILL ALLOW SMALL FARMERS TO CONVERT WASTE INTO CHAR AND THEN THE CHAR INTO VALUE-ADDED, BIOCHAR-BASED PRODUCTS, GET PAID FOR IT AND EVEN MAKE A PROFIT. RIGHT NOW, EVERYONE IS SCOFFING. I AM SCRAMBLING TO FIND MARKETS SINCE WHATEVER GLOBAL DEMAND MAY BE, THERE IS NO LOCAL DEMAND. BUT I AM THE WORLD'S MOST OBSTINATE AND FUNDAMENTALLY OPTIMISTIC SOB, AND I PLAN TO KEEP TRYING. WHO KNOWS, BY THE END OF NEXT YEAR, THERE MAY JUST BE AN EXCELLENT PYROLYSIS OPPORTUNITY FOR THE FARMERS IN ONE VILLAGE IN ONE SUB-DISTRICT IN ONE DISTRICT IN ONE CORNER OF ONE PROVINCE IN NORTH THAILAND.
 
Of all the numbers above, that low number for sugar cane surprises me the most.  Bagasse must be a higher number.  Is the 200 kg perhaps leaves left/burned in the field?

THE SUGAR NUMBER REFERS, I AM SURE, TO LEAVES ONLY. STANDARD PRACTICE EVERYWHERE I HAVE EVER WORKED IS TO BURN FIELDS BEFORE CUTTING TO ELIMINATE THE LEAVES - AND THE SPIDERS, SCORPIONS, SNAKES AND WHAT NOT. AFTER CRUSHING, THE BAGASSE IS GENERALLY BURNED TO HEAT THE COOKER. THIS IS A VERY DIRTY PROCESS BECAUSE THE BOILERS ARE OLD. FEW BIG OPERATIONS (AND TO BE COMMERCIALLY VIABLE TODAY YOU MUST BE BIG) USE ALL OF THEIR BAGASSE THIS WAY. MOST HAVE A HUGE AMOUNT OF WASTE.

I HAVE SPOKEN TO ONE MILL ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF GOING GREEN BY REINVENTING THEIR PRODUCTION PROCESS AROUND BAGASSE TO BIOCHAR BUT THEY HAVE BALKED. TOO BAD, BECAUSE THEY COULD SAVE AND MAKE A FORTUNE. THEY COULD REALIZE SAVINGS BY GENERATING ALL OF THEIR ELECTRICITY IN THE PROCESS, TAPPING OUT VALUABLE WOOD VINAGRE AND EARNING CARBON CREDITS FOR PLOWING THE BIOCHAR BACK INTO THE FIELDS.  

You don’t have a number for the first line of “coarse grains”.  Might that be “two”?
 
NO, IT VARIES. I LEFT THE LINE IN SIMPLY TO IDENTIFY THEM. BARLEY, FOR EXAMPLE, IS ABOUT 1.5, NONE OF THE OTHERS STICK IN MY MIND. WHEN I DID MY OVERALL CALCULATION, HOWEVER, CEREALS AND COARSE GRAINS TOGETHER CAME TO APPROXIMATELY 2 TO 1 SUCH THAT 4.1 BILLION TONNES OF GRAIN PRODUCED 4.2 BILLION TONNES OF WASTE OF WHICH 50% WAS AGAIN 4.1 BILLION TONNES. I THEN WENT ON TO APPLY THIS RATIO TO THE 10+ BILLION TONNES OF FOOD PRODUCED TO GET A TOTAL OF 10 BILLION TONNES OF WASTE AT A 50% DISCOUNT. 10 BILLION TONNES OF WASTE AT A 20% EFFICIENCY GIVES YOU 2 BILLION TONNES OF BIOCHAR ANNUALLY.

NOTE: THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE ALL OF THE CHAR AVAILABLE FROM ORCHARD PRUNINGS. WITH 10 MILLION HA OF OLIVE ORCHARDS AROUND THE WORLD, 500,000 HA OF APPLE ORCHARDS JUST IN THE EU, AND SO ON, THERE ARE A LOT OF TREE PRUNINGS, THE AMOUNT OF WOOD (MASS) PER HA VARIES BY SPECIES, TREE AGE AND PLANTING DENSITY, BUT IS SELDOM LESS THAN 0.5 TONNES/HA. (AROUND HERE WE GROW LONGAN AND MANGO THAT RUN ABOUT 1.25 TONNES/HA.) COLLECTIVELY, THIS ADDS UP TO A LOT OF WASTED BIOMASS, SINCE IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD ALMOST ALL IS BURNED IN THE ORCHARD OR FOR COOKING.

WE ARE CURRENTLY RUNNING A SMALL OPERATION HERE WITH JUST ONE GUY MAKING CHAR FROM ORCHARD PRUNINGS. WORKING WITH TWO OTHERS, HE PRODUCES 1.5 TONNES OF CHAR PER 6 DAY WEEK (250 KG/DAY, 25 10 KG BAGS). WE ARE SETTING HIM UP AS A SMALL BUSINESS SUCH THAT HE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO PRODUCE 6 TONNES PER 6 DAY WEEK WITH A TOTAL OF ELEVEN EMPLOYEES. HE WILL PAY OFF THE EQUIPMENT LOAN IN A FEW MONTHS. NEXT YEAR WE WILL REINVEST THE MONEY IN A SECOND GUY IN ANOTHER VILLAGE WHO WILL ALSO MAKE 6 TONNES A WEEK FOR THE 25 WEEK SEASON - AND SO ON. LOONG TIE (OUR GUY) WILL MAKE JUST 24 TONNES THIS YEAR, BUT NEXT YEAR HE AND THE OTHER GUY WILL MAKE 300 TONNES. EACH YEAR THEREAFTER WE SHOULD ADD ANOTHER 150 TONNES OF PRODUCTION FROM WASTE BRANCHES. iF i CAN BUILD A MARKET, WE HOPE TO EXPAND PRODUCTION TO INCLUDE AT LEAST HALF OF THE VILLAGES IN THE DISTRICT (SAY 50 OF 111).

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE FORMULA IS, BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT FROM DOWN IN THE WEEDS, THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS THE LACK OF A MARKET. AT ABOUT $0.15 PER KG, I CAN GENERATE AS MUCH BIOCHAR AS ANYONE WANTS, BUT AT $10 A TONNE ($0.01 PER KG) FOR CO2 CCS THERE IS NO REASONABLE WAY TO EXPECT SMALL FARMERS TO DO THIS WORK IN THE HEAT OF THE DRY SEASON. (MY 7 DAY FORECAST RUNS FROM 100 TO 109 F.) I AM DOING MY BEST TO SECURE CONTRACTS FROM BIG HOTELS AND RESTAURANT CHAINS, BUT I RUN A CHILDREN'S HOME, RON. I AM NOT IN THE STARTUP BUSINESS AND WARM HEART IS NOT AN INCUBATOR!

Thanks for this addition.

RON, SEVERAL POINTS. THE 1.073 NUMBER IS NOT FOR CO2 BUT FOR CO2E CALCULATED CONSERVATIVELY AS COMPRISING ONLY CH4 AND NOx. I DERIVED THIS NUMBER MYSELF STARTING WITH S. AKAGI ET AL.'S EF FOR CROP RESIDUE BURNING (5.82 KG OF CH4/TONNE OF BIOMASS BURNED AND 3.11 KG OF NOx/TONNE OF BIOMASS BURNED).

I REALLY LIKE THE 3.67 NUMBER FROM THE 44/12 BUT BIOCHAR IS UNFORTUNATELY NOT PURE C, SO I GENERALLY STICK WITH 3 TO BE CONSERVATIVE. THERE ARE THOSE WHO GO LOWER STILL.

AS FOR THE 50% BURN RATE, SOMEDAY SOMEONE MIGHT COME UP WITH A GREAT WAY TO REDUCE THIS NUMBER SIGNIFICANTLY, BUT IT WILL NOT BE SOON. THE DIFFICULTY IS THAT MOST OF THIS WASTE IS WIDELY AND THINLY DISPERSED ACROSS BILLIONS OF TINY FARMS LOCATED ON VERY INHOSPITABLE TERRAIN. COLLECTION COSTS ARE PROHIBITIVE. WE (WARM HEART) HAVE DEVELOPED A VERY SMALL-SCALE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE MODEL BUILT ON DISTRIBUTED (FARM LEVEL) PRODUCTION THAT IS PROFITABLE AND TARGETS THIS 50%. AS I AM SURE YOU KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE, KNOWING HOW TO DO SOMETHING AND CONVINCING THE WORLD THAT IT CAN BE DONE PROFITABLY ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS, ESPECIALLY IN A WORLD WITH A DEEP PREJUDICE FOR NOVEL, HIGH-TECH STUFF WITH "LOTS OF PROMISE."

DESPITE ALL OF THE HOOPLA ABOUT CARBON REDUCTION, ETC., I HAVE FOUND IT IMPOSSIBLE TO GET ANYONE INTERESTED. THE PROBLEM IS NOT SIMPLY THAT UNTIL SOMEONE SUPPORTS US OR COMES UP WITH A BETTER WAY OF GETTING TRULY TINY FARMERS TO STOP BURNING WE WON'T BE ABLE TO GET ALL THAT BIOCHAR. THE REAL PROBLEMS ARE THAT THEIR BURNING WILL CONTINUE TO PRODUCE BILLIONS OF TONNES OF CO2E, SMOG PRECURSORS AND PM2.5.
 
Ron

Note one other addition that came in from Geoff - see below


On Mon, Mar 9, 2020 at 1:41 PM Ron Larson <rongretlarson@...> wrote:
Lists:   (Adding CDR - which has received all of the subsequent responses - from Benoit,  Thomas,  etc.)
Apologies in advance for including all of the Drawdown material on biochar (In italics with some added bolding and underlining) - but it should help others wishing to add their thoughts.   My comments always start with bold  RWL  <snip a lot>
Material from Geoff:  Sent only to the Biochar.io list

I agree, Michael, - hard to take seriously the work of the uninformed who should be informed, there was some similiar sort of study in Australia, that decided, - with no facts or figures, that Biochar could never be more than (1 or 2? %) of the solution and that idiot statement was subsequently taken on good faith and promulgated far and wide. - these self righteous one eyed folk need to be picked up by the neck and shaken whilst being given the actual facts, - fuzzy as they can sometimes be.
, - whatever.

[RWL:  Geoff.  Thanks for your comment and support of Michael.

Ron



Join main@Biochar.groups.io to automatically receive all group messages.