A question about biochar as a decontaminate #contaminate


d.michael.shafer@gmail.com
 

There are lots of articles about the effectiveness of biochar as a heavy metal decontaminate (China/cadmium in rice paddies; Europe/lead at brownfields; US/old mine tailings, mercury). i have three questions: (1) Is it therefore reasonable to suggest the application of biochar soil amendment to urban lawns and playing fields to lock up low level lead contamination? or (2) to suggest the addition of biochar to stormwater drain systems to lock up, for example, low-level lead contamination in drain sediment during the mixing that takes place following a storm? Finally, (3) Is it reasonable to suggest the application of biochar to decontaminate flood mud or areas once covered in flood mud?

I am sure that there are preferred feedstocks, pyrolysis temps, etc. for each contaminate type, but my question is more general. It is really, "Is there any point? Anything to gain?" or would such an exercise be a total waste of money and frivolous?

Michael Shafer


photo
Dr. D. Michael Shafer
Founder and Director, Warm Heart

+1 732-745-9295 | +66 (0)85 199-2958 | d.michael.shafer@...

www.warmheartworldwide.org | Skype: live:d.michael.shafer53

61 M.8 T.Maepang A.Phrao 50190 Chiang Mai Thailand


Teel, Wayne
 

Michael,


The South River Science Team based in Waynesboro, VA has done a number of longer term studies on mercury contamination in the river which comes in from eroding stream banks and contaminated soil leaching.  They have found that biochar (some sourced from Biochar Now in Colorado) does mitigate a substantial portion of the contamination from these sources.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0883292718300428?via%3Dihub  (This is just the abstract.  There might be an Elsevier pay wall, but I have not pursued that.)


While the article is typical of science publications and calls for more studies, a standard practice, biochar is near the top of the mitigation techniques they use.  Of course this is for mercury, not lead, but I would suspect the same is true for that positive ion.  It is not frivolous, but it is also not without cost.  The real question is whether the costs are exceeded by the damage that mitigation would prevent.  We are not always good at answering that question.


Wayne


Wayne S. Teel
701 Carrier Drive
ISAT MSC 4102
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Phone: 540-568-2798
Fax: 540-568-2761
 


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of d.michael.shafer@... <d.michael.shafer@...>
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 11:43:00 PM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] A question about biochar as a decontaminate
 
There are lots of articles about the effectiveness of biochar as a heavy metal decontaminate (China/cadmium in rice paddies; Europe/lead at brownfields; US/old mine tailings, mercury). i have three questions: (1) Is it therefore reasonable to suggest the application of biochar soil amendment to urban lawns and playing fields to lock up low level lead contamination? or (2) to suggest the addition of biochar to stormwater drain systems to lock up, for example, low-level lead contamination in drain sediment during the mixing that takes place following a storm? Finally, (3) Is it reasonable to suggest the application of biochar to decontaminate flood mud or areas once covered in flood mud?

I am sure that there are preferred feedstocks, pyrolysis temps, etc. for each contaminate type, but my question is more general. It is really, "Is there any point? Anything to gain?" or would such an exercise be a total waste of money and frivolous?

Michael Shafer


photo
Dr. D. Michael Shafer
Founder and Director, Warm Heart

+1 732-745-9295 | +66 (0)85 199-2958 | d.michael.shafer@...

www.warmheartworldwide.org | Skype: live:d.michael.shafer53

61 M.8 T.Maepang A.Phrao 50190 Chiang Mai Thailand


Tom Miles
 

Wayne,

 

There are at least three published papers on the South River project which are all behind a pay wall.

 

Tom

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Teel, Wayne
Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2020 4:58 AM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] A question about biochar as a decontaminate

 

Michael,

 

The South River Science Team based in Waynesboro, VA has done a number of longer term studies on mercury contamination in the river which comes in from eroding stream banks and contaminated soil leaching.  They have found that biochar (some sourced from Biochar Now in Colorado) does mitigate a substantial portion of the contamination from these sources.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0883292718300428?via%3Dihub  (This is just the abstract.  There might be an Elsevier pay wall, but I have not pursued that.)

 

While the article is typical of science publications and calls for more studies, a standard practice, biochar is near the top of the mitigation techniques they use.  Of course this is for mercury, not lead, but I would suspect the same is true for that positive ion.  It is not frivolous, but it is also not without cost.  The real question is whether the costs are exceeded by the damage that mitigation would prevent.  We are not always good at answering that question.

 

Wayne

 

Wayne S. Teel

701 Carrier Drive

ISAT MSC 4102

Harrisonburg, VA 22807

Phone: 540-568-2798

Fax: 540-568-2761

E-mail: teelws@...

 


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of d.michael.shafer@... <d.michael.shafer@...>
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 11:43:00 PM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] A question about biochar as a decontaminate

 

There are lots of articles about the effectiveness of biochar as a heavy metal decontaminate (China/cadmium in rice paddies; Europe/lead at brownfields; US/old mine tailings, mercury). i have three questions: (1) Is it therefore reasonable to suggest the application of biochar soil amendment to urban lawns and playing fields to lock up low level lead contamination? or (2) to suggest the addition of biochar to stormwater drain systems to lock up, for example, low-level lead contamination in drain sediment during the mixing that takes place following a storm? Finally, (3) Is it reasonable to suggest the application of biochar to decontaminate flood mud or areas once covered in flood mud?

 

I am sure that there are preferred feedstocks, pyrolysis temps, etc. for each contaminate type, but my question is more general. It is really, "Is there any point? Anything to gain?" or would such an exercise be a total waste of money and frivolous?

 

Michael Shafer


 

photo

Dr. D. Michael Shafer
Founder and Director, Warm Heart

+1 732-745-9295 | +66 (0)85 199-2958 | d.michael.shafer@...

www.warmheartworldwide.org | Skype: live:d.michael.shafer53

61 M.8 T.Maepang A.Phrao 50190 Chiang Mai Thailand

 

 

    


Nando Breiter
 



I am sure that there are preferred feedstocks, pyrolysis temps, etc. for each contaminate type, but my question is more general. It is really, "Is there any point? Anything to gain?" or would such an exercise be a total waste of money and frivolous?


In practice, I don't think there is a general answer.  For projects like this, a large scale producer or promoter will need to find funding. Funds for such projects do not come easily. Those providing them almost certainly must believe there is a point, there is something to gain. In my experience, most people with control over substantial amounts of money in the private sector have a pretty good head on their shoulders and a very good nose for BS, prevarication, or a thinly researched case. So if the project promoters think it may be frivolous, it is very unlikely they will be able to convince financial backers that it is not. 

That said, the real world is complex and not easy to understand, but I do not think putting our best effort into understanding it and sharing the slivers of knowledge we gain is frivolous, even when the results are certain to be impartial truths.

So even if the char sorbs only some of a toxin, and does not retain it forever, and "only" one case of cancer in a young child is prevented as a result, and we learn something useful along the way to improve our approach, would that be a total waste of money? 

--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland


d.michael.shafer@gmail.com
 

Wayne,

Many thanks for the information. i am familiar with the mercury studies from efforts to contain mercury pollution from artisanal gold mining in Africa.

The question of cost-benefit is always a hard one, especially if you are dealing with costly, high end chars in the US or Europe. The cost-benefit in Africa is pretty straightforward, since there are no alternatives, the costs are high and easily observed and the cost of making char negligible. The char may be just good enough, but if used in sufficient quantity, it is a whole lot better than unmitigated mercury runoff.

M



photo
Dr. D. Michael Shafer
Founder and Director, Warm Heart

+1 732-745-9295 | +66 (0)85 199-2958 | d.michael.shafer@...

www.warmheartworldwide.org | Skype: live:d.michael.shafer53

61 M.8 T.Maepang A.Phrao 50190 Chiang Mai Thailand

On Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 4:57 PM Teel, Wayne <teelws@...> wrote:

Michael,


The South River Science Team based in Waynesboro, VA has done a number of longer term studies on mercury contamination in the river which comes in from eroding stream banks and contaminated soil leaching.  They have found that biochar (some sourced from Biochar Now in Colorado) does mitigate a substantial portion of the contamination from these sources.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0883292718300428?via%3Dihub  (This is just the abstract.  There might be an Elsevier pay wall, but I have not pursued that.)


While the article is typical of science publications and calls for more studies, a standard practice, biochar is near the top of the mitigation techniques they use.  Of course this is for mercury, not lead, but I would suspect the same is true for that positive ion.  It is not frivolous, but it is also not without cost.  The real question is whether the costs are exceeded by the damage that mitigation would prevent.  We are not always good at answering that question.


Wayne


Wayne S. Teel
701 Carrier Drive
ISAT MSC 4102
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Phone: 540-568-2798
Fax: 540-568-2761
 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of d.michael.shafer@... <d.michael.shafer@...>
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 11:43:00 PM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] A question about biochar as a decontaminate
 
There are lots of articles about the effectiveness of biochar as a heavy metal decontaminate (China/cadmium in rice paddies; Europe/lead at brownfields; US/old mine tailings, mercury). i have three questions: (1) Is it therefore reasonable to suggest the application of biochar soil amendment to urban lawns and playing fields to lock up low level lead contamination? or (2) to suggest the addition of biochar to stormwater drain systems to lock up, for example, low-level lead contamination in drain sediment during the mixing that takes place following a storm? Finally, (3) Is it reasonable to suggest the application of biochar to decontaminate flood mud or areas once covered in flood mud?

I am sure that there are preferred feedstocks, pyrolysis temps, etc. for each contaminate type, but my question is more general. It is really, "Is there any point? Anything to gain?" or would such an exercise be a total waste of money and frivolous?

Michael Shafer


photo
Dr. D. Michael Shafer
Founder and Director, Warm Heart

+1 732-745-9295 | +66 (0)85 199-2958 | d.michael.shafer@...

www.warmheartworldwide.org | Skype: live:d.michael.shafer53

61 M.8 T.Maepang A.Phrao 50190 Chiang Mai Thailand

    


d.michael.shafer@gmail.com
 

Nando,

The who will pay question is perhaps the key and goes back to Wayne's observation that cost-benefit is hard to judge. I asked my own question in an effort to determine whether there might be sufficient evidence to convince a town or city council to cough up - especially if there was a pay-back, for example, in reduced fertilizer and watering costs for municipal lawns, gardens and playing fields. At issue, of course, is the issue of how serious the perceived threat of low-level lead contamination is - or that of any other heavy metal/pesticide/industrial chemical. In general, Americans seem to believe that they are safe or at least that that which doesn't kill you immediately shouldn't worry you. We may feel sorry for the one kid who gets cancer, but it takes a great deal to move us to giving serious consideration to a cancer cluster or, beyond that, to action. And with lead, the issue isn't so dramatic. After all, what's a few IQ points lost? Measuring the might have been is tricky.




photo
Dr. D. Michael Shafer
Founder and Director, Warm Heart

+1 732-745-9295 | +66 (0)85 199-2958 | d.michael.shafer@...

www.warmheartworldwide.org | Skype: live:d.michael.shafer53

61 M.8 T.Maepang A.Phrao 50190 Chiang Mai Thailand

On Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 9:50 PM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:


I am sure that there are preferred feedstocks, pyrolysis temps, etc. for each contaminate type, but my question is more general. It is really, "Is there any point? Anything to gain?" or would such an exercise be a total waste of money and frivolous?


In practice, I don't think there is a general answer.  For projects like this, a large scale producer or promoter will need to find funding. Funds for such projects do not come easily. Those providing them almost certainly must believe there is a point, there is something to gain. In my experience, most people with control over substantial amounts of money in the private sector have a pretty good head on their shoulders and a very good nose for BS, prevarication, or a thinly researched case. So if the project promoters think it may be frivolous, it is very unlikely they will be able to convince financial backers that it is not. 

That said, the real world is complex and not easy to understand, but I do not think putting our best effort into understanding it and sharing the slivers of knowledge we gain is frivolous, even when the results are certain to be impartial truths.

So even if the char sorbs only some of a toxin, and does not retain it forever, and "only" one case of cancer in a young child is prevented as a result, and we learn something useful along the way to improve our approach, would that be a total waste of money? 

--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland


Harry Groot
 

As a follow-on to this question and the subsequent discussion: what happens to the biochar used in these situations?  Is it left, possibly claimed as a carbon sink, but one to which the contaminate is bound, or buried?  Has there been research which shows how effective that bond is (for the life of the biochar, or not?) Can the contaminate be recovered thru another process (and is THAT worth it?)

H

On Wed, Sep 23, 2020 at 11:43 PM d.michael.shafer@... <d.michael.shafer@...> wrote:
There are lots of articles about the effectiveness of biochar as a heavy metal decontaminate (China/cadmium in rice paddies; Europe/lead at brownfields; US/old mine tailings, mercury). i have three questions: (1) Is it therefore reasonable to suggest the application of biochar soil amendment to urban lawns and playing fields to lock up low level lead contamination? or (2) to suggest the addition of biochar to stormwater drain systems to lock up, for example, low-level lead contamination in drain sediment during the mixing that takes place following a storm? Finally, (3) Is it reasonable to suggest the application of biochar to decontaminate flood mud or areas once covered in flood mud?

I am sure that there are preferred feedstocks, pyrolysis temps, etc. for each contaminate type, but my question is more general. It is really, "Is there any point? Anything to gain?" or would such an exercise be a total waste of money and frivolous?

Michael Shafer


photo
Dr. D. Michael Shafer
Founder and Director, Warm Heart

+1 732-745-9295 | +66 (0)85 199-2958 | d.michael.shafer@...

www.warmheartworldwide.org | Skype: live:d.michael.shafer53

61 M.8 T.Maepang A.Phrao 50190 Chiang Mai Thailand