Carbon foam #catalysts #carbonfoam

Ron Larson

List and AD

AD and his daughter Priya ran the first stove conference.  Pune India in 2000.  We were talking TLUDs then, but not biochar,   The Karves still run an important group called ARTI.  Numerous advances in biogas production with cookstoves.  Also an expert on bamboo.  Priya running a stove that carries TLUDS and more.
See below as a first cut, with strong plea for others to jump in.

On Dec 30, 2019, at 2:51 AM, Anand Karve <adkarve@...> wrote:

Happy new  year to all. 
Much has been written on biochar. In this group the talk seems to be mainly about making biochar, but how exactly it works in the soil and on plants is still a mystery to me.
RWL1:  And for almost all of us.  Still lots to learn.

Since it is applied to the soil, it must be 1.making more minerals available to plants 2.bettering the soil structure, 3. increasing water supply to the plants 4. offering shelter to beneficial soil microbes 5 all of the above.
[RWL2:  I vote for #5.  But add fungi as important also.  Re #2, it helps with both clay and sandy soil, little for loam.  We are also reading a good bit about advantages with both CH4 and nitrogen release.
Since carbon does not dissolve in water and also does not biodegrade, the contribution of biochar might be due to its physical structure.
[RWL3:   Yes, huge surface area.   In first few years, a relative small “labile” portion is used by the microbes.  The remaining “recalcitrant” portion, if produced at sufficiently high temperature, has lifetime well in excess of 100 years.

Has anybody compared the effect of biochar with any other material having similar physical characteristics, e.g. broken pieces of terra cotta pottery, pumice, wood chips etc.
[RWL4:  Yes there are competing products.  Zeolites especially (also large surface area).  Compost increasingly contains biochar - I think we will eventually see 50-50 ratio, since compost lasts such short time.

In my own trials I found that application of raw, non-composted sugarcane bagasse to the soil also causes yield increase in crops, but I did not compare it with biochar, because our soils are extremely alkaline (pH above 8.5) and biochar does not work here.
[RWL5:  I remember you also talking about sugar solutions?   One can buy biochar with pH close to 7.

Bagasse is light and porous, it degrades rather slowly in the soil because the cellulose is tightly bonded to lignin. Bagasse is a leftover product of sugarcane after the juice has been extracted from it. Due to the rigorous way in which the juice extraction takes place, almost no water soluble material is left in it. It also has practically no minerals of use to plants in it except for potassium silicate.   
[RWL6:  One of best talks I ever heard was on a biochar which started with bagasse (in Louisiana).  Big increase in production, finding it easy to apply too much.

Good to hear from you.  Please say hello to Priya.

Other thoughts?


Dr. A.D. Karve

Trustee & Founder President, Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI)

On Thu, Dec 26, 2019 at 7:11 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

Thanks for highlighting this Bob. The carbon foam project has been underway for a few years. It’s good to see some progress. 





From: <> On Behalf Of ROBERT W GILLETT
Sent: Wednesday, December 25, 2019 4:59 AM
Subject: [Biochar] Carbon foam #catalysts


Merry Christmas All,

Thought I'd drop a lump of hi-tech coal in your stockings. Carbon foam looks like a high-quality biochar from the description by the USFS. The recent winners of the Keeling Curve prize may be using it as a substrate to form catalysts for CO2 capture (see paper by Ma et al. under References). Biochar may yet end up being the biggest solution to global warming, but under a different moniker and in a way most did not anticipate.

Robert Gillett