Negative Emissions, Biochar material use and PyCCS #pyccs
Re the “Biochar material use” discussion:
We carved the term PyCCS for Pyrogenic Carbon Capture and Storage via the two attached papers which does not contain the word “Biochar”, as you can see.
However, Frank mentions cascading uses and that is where building materials meet biochar: if you use a clay loam plaster on your walls – breaking the house down will ultimately result in something that weathers again to be, in the end, soil. Also, if you use it as a feed additive, it finally ends up in the soil, but has a different purpose first (animal health).
For me, biochar was and is largely a term that depicts a beneficial material use, not the use that involves burning it and returning it as CO2 to the atmosphere (as in “charcoal”), be it in soil, in animal feed, or materials such as paper (that may be composted in the end) or building materials.
No one would just use biochar as a sand replacement without testing the strength and resistance of the resulting material. At least in Europe, there are strict regulations and norms that would never, ever allow its use without sufficient R&D first. Maybe this is different, a kind of Wild-wild-West, in the US?
Hans-Peter Schmidt has done some work on this, together with engineers. Biochar in tunnel concrete worked well as a replacement of the fibres that they have to put in it as fire protection (fibres that melt when there’s a fire, so that water vapour can escape and the carrying structure remains intact & is not blasted appart. Biochar replaced the fibres very well.) Plus, biochar is alkaline, not acidic.... Clearly, more R&D is needed here.
If we truly want to go for the 2° goal of Paris, there is no way around negative emissions, with biochar /PyCCS as one of the many needed options. And as for the next ice age? Screw that, not going to happen, anyway, we humans made sure of that already. (See attached paper “Ganopolsik et al. 2016”)
PS: Can someone probably correct my first name in the data base....?
Von: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io>
Im Auftrag von Frank Strie
RE: “real biochar (biochar buried in the ground)
From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of d.michael.shafer@...
Sent: Friday, April 17, 2020 6:39 PM
Cc: Biochar@groups.io; Carbon Dioxide Removal <CarbonDioxideRemoval@...>; Benoit Lambert <benoit.lambert@...>; Thomas Goreau <goreau@...>
Subject: Re: [Biochar] The Drawdown Review, New Website, Our Team is Growing.
Your capacity for detail is just remarkable. It took me more than a few times through this to make all the pieces fall into place and i am normally a pretty good close reader.
My only major concern with both the CDR crowd and your response is the continued assumption that biochar is the plaything of only the developed world (as suggested by the suggestion that biochar production can be accurately measured by counting the assumed number of biochar production factories, and so on).
f one divides the global population between rich and poor (North and South) according to the simple rule of thumb that is you make $10 a day or more you are rich and if you make $10 a day or less you are poor, global population splits roughly 20:80. Looking to the far future - say 2050 - then the rich are in big trouble because they can expect the poor to be both very hot and very hungry. In fact, if another few billion people and 5 or 10 degrees are added between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, it is quite likely that there will be nothing to eat. The fish are already decampting. The major staple crops such as rice, corn and millet lose 10% of their productivity with ever consistent 1 degree C rise in temperature, Soil, already degraded, is degrading faster in the heat and losing humous at an accelerated rate with increasingly savage rain storms. Why do I say this?
Because I believe that developing world production of biochar may be all that stands between the rich and the massive migration of the hungry.
It is preventing this hunger that is my project.
Let's consider, for a moment, the crop waste figures I shared a while ago.
So what, you ask?
Well, this is 2020, leaving 30 years until 2050, and as this is annual, we have the potential to produce 30*420,000,000 or 12.6 billion tonnes of biochar.
Now, let us assume that smart outside players finally catch on to this gold mine and actually begin to buy small farmer biochar. Let assume that companies come in and buy three quarters of this char, 9.45 billion tonnes), this still leaves 3.15 billion tonnes in the hands of small farmers.
What are they going to do with it?
Suppose just 1 billion tonnes is used for this purpose directly, the only use the meets the "proper" definition of "biochar." What do we get?
There are approximately 1.8 billion hectares of arable land in the developing world and the number is falling fast. If we assume that half of it is OK and does not need biochar or will soon be paved over, then round up, we are left with 1 billion hectares. On this one billion hectares, we have about 500 million small farms.
This, however, is probably not a useful way to look at the food security/hunger/make your own biochar picture. Why? Because "small farms" (less than 1 ha) make up 72% of farms worldwide and another 12% lie between 1 and 2 ha. At the same time, in the poorest countries, slightly more than 80% of farms 1 ha or less covered just 20% of arable land. (Interestingly, the richer the country, the more pronounced this pattern such that in the richest countries there are only very large holdings.)
Well, if we make the crude assumption that the smallest farms are the most marginal and on the worst land, then we are talking about dividing our 1 billion tonnes of real biochar (biochar buried in the ground) to the land that these farms are on. The result is not the golden 1 kg/m2 required to up the performance of the pampered soils of New York and the Rhone Valley, but in Asia and Africa, as little 125 or 250 g/ m2 ought to boost the yields of most crops by 30% or so.
What's the message?
The developed world better get its butt in gear and begin teaching the developing world about biochar. And not the fat boy elites. What do they do? They are like the Senators in DC who collect the big agricultural support checks. This is a message that needs to get out the all the nobodies on the fringe. If THEY make biochar, and the CDR's definition be damned, a hell of a lot of CO2 can get sucked out of the atmosphere, a hell of a lot of food can get grown and hell of a lot of people kept in place, food secure.
I would also like to add a note about costs.
Those cited are astronomically high compared to the costs we work with. To convert branches pruned off of orchard trees into biochar - branches that would otherwise have to be burned because of the extreme labor, transportation and carbon costs of collecting them), a team of three uses a $160 machine and earns the Thai minimum wage (three times the local wage, if there was work) to make 250 kg a day. Total cost per tonne, including single season debt repayment, $140. Without debt repayment, $133. And note, Thailand is a very high cost country, in which both workers and owner want to make money. (In this case, workers make twice the area average daily income and $60 per six day week. The owner clears $20 after debt repayment without doing a damn thing.)
Please excuse the long rant, but these guys really irritate me both because they just don't get it about biochar and because of their insistence on a North-centric world view. Hello? Where do all the people live? Who is actually dying from climate change right now? For whom is this not just a scary abstraction?
I appreciate all the science and all the advances in technology, but let me tell you, for the folks mentioned above, it is all a matter of indifference. There is simply not enough money in the world to bring technology and all the good stuff to all these people anytime in the next 20 years or so. This means that we can allow them to go on burning and starving or we can introduce them to simple, small-scale, DIY biochar and let them help cool the climate, clean the environment, improve their own health and raise their quality of life.
On Mon, Mar 9, 2020 at 1:41 PM Ron Larson <rongretlarson@...> wrote: