Re: IBI funding

Bravo, Rick,

Thank you so much for this critical observation. I am all for verification, certification and so on. But one size does not fit all. In most uses, biochar is and can be truly basic stuff. There is no reason to certify that all biochar is perfect. (I mean, really, for what?) Frankly, if you are using it in asphalt or cement, do you need the same standards as if you are using it in animal feed? If you are burying it in a c-sink, what matters to me is its carbon content and how long that carbon will reside, not that the stuff will pass tests for problems that I never knew existed.

If there is no one biochar, then let us begin to match biochars to end uses to standards. Somehow other industries succeed in doing so. Why not biochar?

On Sat, May 1, 2021 at 11:49 AM Rick Wilson via <> wrote:

If we were to start with a white sheet of paper to decide how to  characterize (chemically, physically) biochar (which I agree with Hugh we should),  shouldn't we start with defining what the applications for biochar are?  Wouldn’t what you measure, depend on what you are using it for?  Consider:
  • Asphalt blending.  Biochar can improve the mechanical properties so it lasts longer (fatigue, ductility)
  • Bulding materials (physical strength, insulation factor)
  • Soil remediation. Binding of heavy metals (sorption properties)
  • Stabilizing soil organic matter - building (sorption measure of ability to stabilize carbon exudates)
  • Plant growth stimulation (pH, nitrate sorption, size dimensions as they impact water infiltration, plant available water)
  • Feeding dairy cows and beef cattle to improve yield (methane retention)
  • …. and all the other applications described in the book “Burn”, and emerging applications..
Only after you decide what the applications are so you know what to measure, then figure out how to best measure it (method)?

Rick Wilson

On Apr 30, 2021, at 8:02 PM, Hugh McLaughlin via <wastemin1@...> wrote:

Kathleen and all of the IBI decision makers,

The lack of a credible way of measuring biochar properties and evaluating appropriateness and "quality" for a range of applications has been a chronic and enduring criticism of the current biochar marketplace. I have studied this particular challenge and there are real improvements that can and should be made. I would ask that a program be developed to address this situation and fix it. If it does not happen under this grant, it will likely never be attempted and the market doubt will persist and fester. I will contribute what I know, but it has to feed into a program that leads to real change. Remarking that the IBI Standards allow for modification does not address the problem that change is too little and too slow.


Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE

On Friday, April 30, 2021, 7:28:47 PM EDT, Susan Klinker <suzklink@...> wrote:

Hi Kathleen, Thats great news!  Here are my thoughts on what's needed to scale up the bio-char industry. 
PR Campaign to drive market demand:
  • Educational Outreach within the Agricultural sector including incentives for use and test plots.
  • Educational Outreach within the Public sector, including incentives for use and test plots.
  • Educational Outreach within the schools to increase understanding of soil health in younger generations.
  • Marketing to the General Public, including education on how to use biochar in backyards.
  • Mass publicity sharing amazing success stories of biochar re-generation of soil health toward climate change.
  • Creative messaging through social media and younger generations (FUN! Tik Tok viral storm! )
Lobbying Legislators for ongoing funding support to solve specific local problems, especially water conservation and areas suffering from desertification. 
Philanthropic Funding for further capacity building in the form of jobs & equipment for scaled up distribution in the private and non-profit sectors. 
Collaborative Partnerships bringing together multiple organizations to solve specific social & environmental issues. (Universities, etc)
Non-profit support to help educate and assist diverse populations to properly adopt, use, and understand bio-char successfully. Workshops, films, hands on support with design and product application.  (Americorp, etc) 
Subsidized distribution in the early days of scaling up the industry. 


Join to automatically receive all group messages.