Biochar Market Strategies - Needs #market


Tom Miles
 

What are the important quantitative customer and market needs for biochars? We discuss production a lot on this list but we should also focus on markets which is where producers seem to fail.  

 

Why do your customers buy biochar? What needs do biochars and biochar based products satisfy for forestry, agriculture (food, crops, animals), urban landscapes, organic waste and recycling, environment, and ecosystem services (air, water, waste)?

 

WASTE DISPOSAL with carbon recovery seem to drive the conversion of urban wood to biochar with mobile devices. Does conversion of wood residues from forests, right of ways, and construction to biochar reduce the financial risk of wildfire, and reduce chipping, handling and transportation costs sufficiently to offset the cost of conversion? Manure management may be another important need. Are dairies, milk or meat consumers willing to pay to use biochar to management pollution and recycle nutrients in manures? Does biochar substantially improve composting of food wastes and reduce odor?

 

POLLUTION CONTROL. Can biochars be supplied at prices where they can be preferred to other materials to reduce phosphorous runoff from farms, concentrated animal operations, control urban stormwater and erosion, improve plant survival in urban landscaping and reforestation, reduce weight in green roof media used to reduce heat islands in cities. Why do your customers prefer your biochars or biochar based materials to alternatives?

 

ODOR CONTROL. Does the use of biochar to control odors justify the cost? Is reduced odor in confined animal feed operations a benefit that growers will pay for?

 

LAND RESTORATION AND REMEDIATION. Biochar helps remediate and restore soils. Does the incorporation of biochar into these systems substantially improve the process? Who benefits from using biochar?

 

WATER CONSERVATION AND USE in crops, orchards, vineyards appears to be an important need that is satisfied when biochars are combined with compost.

 

SOIL HEALTH is improved with biochar the benefits quantifiable? What are the costs and benefits of restoring cropland by using biochar?  Organic growers claim that along with increasing soil carbon and water retention with biochar as a component of their growing system they get increased yield and more nutrient dense food.

 

Identifying needs will help us develop strategies. Your comments are welcome.

 

Tom

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

USBI Logo - Copy (420x176) 

 

              

 


Robert Lehmert
 

Tom, I am focusing on de-watering and pyrolysis of sludge and septage. This starts as a volume-reduction strategy, as municipalities tend to send 20 - 25% solid (ie: most water) to landfills in distant locations. With a dryer powered by waste heat and thermal decomposition of the biomass, it achieves 80% biosolids and can be pyrolyzed using the caloric content of the sludge. After pyrolysis, the remaining biochar is only 5% - 10% of the original volume.

The process creates an "exceptional quality biosolid" called "sludge carbonizate", which may be clean enough for direct application to farmland. Because the sludge carbonizate retains most of the phosphorous and nitrogen of the original feedstock, there is Clean Water Funding available for financing. In addition, because municipalities are already paying tippage fees to dispose of sludge, and because of various tax benefits, private investors are receptive to hiring about this concept, secured by long-term service agreements. Other revenue streams include the resale of P, N, and C and the value of carbon removal. 

Silver linings playbook: if you need to talk to a State official about a new idea, call them when there are no back-to-back-to-back meetings, such as during a quarantine. I can't believe how they picked up the phone last week. 


Tom Miles
 

Great market potential. About half the municipal wastewater treatment facilities in the US  could benefit. There have been a few successful demonstrations of up to a year but no commercial successes yet. The challenge is often the sludge drying system. Bio force tech has a possible solution followed by a limited capacity Pyreg carbonizer. Let us know of any commercial systems. 

T R Miles Technical Consultants Inc.
tmiles@...
Sent from mobile. 

On Mar 21, 2020, at 5:21 PM, Robert Lehmert via Groups.Io <roblehmert@...> wrote:



Tom, I am focusing on de-watering and pyrolysis of sludge and septage. This starts as a volume-reduction strategy, as municipalities tend to send 20 - 25% solid (ie: most water) to landfills in distant locations. With a dryer powered by waste heat and thermal decomposition of the biomass, it achieves 80% biosolids and can be pyrolyzed using the caloric content of the sludge. After pyrolysis, the remaining biochar is only 5% - 10% of the original volume.

The process creates an "exceptional quality biosolid" called "sludge carbonizate", which may be clean enough for direct application to farmland. Because the sludge carbonizate retains most of the phosphorous and nitrogen of the original feedstock, there is Clean Water Funding available for financing. In addition, because municipalities are already paying tippage fees to dispose of sludge, and because of various tax benefits, private investors are receptive to hiring about this concept, secured by long-term service agreements. Other revenue streams include the resale of P, N, and C and the value of carbon removal. 

Silver linings playbook: if you need to talk to a State official about a new idea, call them when there are no back-to-back-to-back meetings, such as during a quarantine. I can't believe how they picked up the phone last week. 


Frank Strie
 

The link to the latest well designed brochure:
Especially the illustrations on Page 7 tell us a lot:
https://www.pyreg.de/wp-content/uploads/2020_pyreg_brochure_sludge_EN.pdf
Hope this assists to create more ideas for actions in all regions.
Cheers with best wishes from under Down Under
Frank



 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Tom Miles
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 2:46 PM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Biochar Market Strategies - Needs #market

 

Great market potential. About half the municipal wastewater treatment facilities in the US  could benefit. There have been a few successful demonstrations of up to a year but no commercial successes yet. The challenge is often the sludge drying system. Bio force tech has a possible solution followed by a limited capacity Pyreg carbonizer. Let us know of any commercial systems. 

T R Miles Technical Consultants Inc.

Sent from mobile. 



On Mar 21, 2020, at 5:21 PM, Robert Lehmert via Groups.Io <roblehmert@...> wrote:



Tom, I am focusing on de-watering and pyrolysis of sludge and septage. This starts as a volume-reduction strategy, as municipalities tend to send 20 - 25% solid (ie: most water) to landfills in distant locations. With a dryer powered by waste heat and thermal decomposition of the biomass, it achieves 80% biosolids and can be pyrolyzed using the caloric content of the sludge. After pyrolysis, the remaining biochar is only 5% - 10% of the original volume.

The process creates an "exceptional quality biosolid" called "sludge carbonizate", which may be clean enough for direct application to farmland. Because the sludge carbonizate retains most of the phosphorous and nitrogen of the original feedstock, there is Clean Water Funding available for financing. In addition, because municipalities are already paying tippage fees to dispose of sludge, and because of various tax benefits, private investors are receptive to hiring about this concept, secured by long-term service agreements. Other revenue streams include the resale of P, N, and C and the value of carbon removal. 

Silver linings playbook: if you need to talk to a State official about a new idea, call them when there are no back-to-back-to-back meetings, such as during a quarantine. I can't believe how they picked up the phone last week. 


Tom Miles
 

Franks,

 

Excellent brochure, thanks.

 

Our Environmental Protection Agency Estimates that public wastewater treatment plans produce more than 8 million dry tons of sewage sludge per year. That does not count private facilities. There are something like 16,500 treatment facilities in the US. So there are opportunities and challenges. According to EPA assessments innovative biosolids systems in the US would look for the following benefits compared with establish technologies:

Low Capital Cost

Low Annual Costs

Reduces Solids or Thickens

Produces Class A Biosolids

Reduces Odor

Beneficial Use (Non Agriculture)

 

To date there are very few successful biosolids installations using thermal conversion and fewer at significant scale. Hopefully we can change that.

 

Tom

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Frank Strie
Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2020 9:20 PM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Biochar Market Strategies - Needs #market

 

The link to the latest well designed brochure:
Especially the illustrations on Page 7 tell us a lot:
https://www.pyreg.de/wp-content/uploads/2020_pyreg_brochure_sludge_EN.pdf
Hope this assists to create more ideas for actions in all regions.
Cheers with best wishes from under Down Under
Frank

 

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Tom Miles
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2020 2:46 PM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Biochar Market Strategies - Needs #market

 

Great market potential. About half the municipal wastewater treatment facilities in the US  could benefit. There have been a few successful demonstrations of up to a year but no commercial successes yet. The challenge is often the sludge drying system. Bio force tech has a possible solution followed by a limited capacity Pyreg carbonizer. Let us know of any commercial systems. 

T R Miles Technical Consultants Inc.

Sent from mobile. 

 

On Mar 21, 2020, at 5:21 PM, Robert Lehmert via Groups.Io <roblehmert@...> wrote:



Tom, I am focusing on de-watering and pyrolysis of sludge and septage. This starts as a volume-reduction strategy, as municipalities tend to send 20 - 25% solid (ie: most water) to landfills in distant locations. With a dryer powered by waste heat and thermal decomposition of the biomass, it achieves 80% biosolids and can be pyrolyzed using the caloric content of the sludge. After pyrolysis, the remaining biochar is only 5% - 10% of the original volume.

The process creates an "exceptional quality biosolid" called "sludge carbonizate", which may be clean enough for direct application to farmland. Because the sludge carbonizate retains most of the phosphorous and nitrogen of the original feedstock, there is Clean Water Funding available for financing. In addition, because municipalities are already paying tippage fees to dispose of sludge, and because of various tax benefits, private investors are receptive to hiring about this concept, secured by long-term service agreements. Other revenue streams include the resale of P, N, and C and the value of carbon removal. 

Silver linings playbook: if you need to talk to a State official about a new idea, call them when there are no back-to-back-to-back meetings, such as during a quarantine. I can't believe how they picked up the phone last week. 


Bob Wells
 

Hi Tom,

    It has been very interesting for me to observe the changes in the wood energy businesses based around the Northeast US over the last couple decades.  It used to be that anyone who was producing an excess of wood chips could sell them into a basic commodity market for biomass to energy plants and although they didn't make much money, at least they had a way to cash them in.  Now since the natural gas availability has caused the price to drop it no longer makes burning wood chips for electricity economical.  The result is that there is not only a glut of wood chips but there is nowhere for them to go outside of the local market for mulch.  We have biomass piling up in town and city dumps as well as contractor's properties.  They now have to pay to get rid of that biomass if they can even find someone who will take it away.  After a good sized windstorm in CT there was one town that piled up thousands of yards of chips and they caught fire from spontaneous combustion and then they had a terrible time putting it out.  All of this is to point out that if we start our biochar business plans by solving a problem of waste biomass instead of asking what is the cost of feedstock, we can start making money before the biomass even goes into the retort.  It may be a strange way to answer your question Tom, but in a way I am marketing biochar as a service to the community before I even make it or sell it. 
    Now that I take that biomass from the community, along with compostable biomass,  I have all the feedstock I need to make wonderful products that go right back to the same community.  My biggest customers become the towns themselves who bring me their biomass and then buy it back from me in the form of biochar/compost mixes that they use to plant new trees and condition park soils, etc...  At this point my business seems more like a service than a manufacturing concern.  This is all being done on stationary equipment.  There is no need for a mobile system which would make using the excess process energy nearly impossible.  I firmly believe that distributed community or farm scale stationary systems will win out in the end.
    After towns that have created laws banning the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers on public areas, my next biggest customers are the landscape architects and landscape companies that feel increasing pressure to use sustainable materials in their work.  For tree and shrub installations our biochar products have clearly shown faster growth, fewer die offs, and increased drought resistance.  When a landscaper is installing a $30,000.00 tree he has no problem spending a little additional money in order to add biochar to the planting hole.  Especially when he knows that he has increased that plants chances of survival and health.
    The bagged retail products come next in third place.
    Last place would go to farmers who have a hard time understanding and putting a value on the long term benefits of using biochar.  Many want to feed it to their animals which would be the best return on investment, but of course I have to warn them that in spite of the proven benefits of doing that, I can't legally sell it to them for that purpose in the U.S.
    In my opinion, the biggest challenge for the making and selling of biochar is still education of the public.  I have always felt that there is a huge market for biochar but that the market doesn't know it.  As a small and usually struggling businessman, I don't have the means to spend a lot on education and advertising, even though every time I do a presentation it brings in sales.

    Just my thoughts...

Bob Wells - New England Biochar LLC

On Fri, Mar 20, 2020 at 7:25 PM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

What are the important quantitative customer and market needs for biochars? We discuss production a lot on this list but we should also focus on markets which is where producers seem to fail.  

 

Why do your customers buy biochar? What needs do biochars and biochar based products satisfy for forestry, agriculture (food, crops, animals), urban landscapes, organic waste and recycling, environment, and ecosystem services (air, water, waste)?

 

WASTE DISPOSAL with carbon recovery seem to drive the conversion of urban wood to biochar with mobile devices. Does conversion of wood residues from forests, right of ways, and construction to biochar reduce the financial risk of wildfire, and reduce chipping, handling and transportation costs sufficiently to offset the cost of conversion? Manure management may be another important need. Are dairies, milk or meat consumers willing to pay to use biochar to management pollution and recycle nutrients in manures? Does biochar substantially improve composting of food wastes and reduce odor?

 

POLLUTION CONTROL. Can biochars be supplied at prices where they can be preferred to other materials to reduce phosphorous runoff from farms, concentrated animal operations, control urban stormwater and erosion, improve plant survival in urban landscaping and reforestation, reduce weight in green roof media used to reduce heat islands in cities. Why do your customers prefer your biochars or biochar based materials to alternatives?

 

ODOR CONTROL. Does the use of biochar to control odors justify the cost? Is reduced odor in confined animal feed operations a benefit that growers will pay for?

 

LAND RESTORATION AND REMEDIATION. Biochar helps remediate and restore soils. Does the incorporation of biochar into these systems substantially improve the process? Who benefits from using biochar?

 

WATER CONSERVATION AND USE in crops, orchards, vineyards appears to be an important need that is satisfied when biochars are combined with compost.

 

SOIL HEALTH is improved with biochar the benefits quantifiable? What are the costs and benefits of restoring cropland by using biochar?  Organic growers claim that along with increasing soil carbon and water retention with biochar as a component of their growing system they get increased yield and more nutrient dense food.

 

Identifying needs will help us develop strategies. Your comments are welcome.

 

Tom

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

USBI Logo - Copy (420x176) 

 

              

 



--
Bob Wells
Biochar Systems

New England Biochar LLC
Box 266 - 40 Redberry Ln.
Eastham, MA 02642, USA
T:  (508) 255-3688
bob@...
www.newenglandbiochar.com