[ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels


John Miedema
 

Bob-  I’m happy to head up the West coast division of Biochar Skunkworks - advanced applied integrated Carbon reductive research and demonstration centers.... 

Albert can manage the Central American branch office..... 

Ever since I first started harvesting and using the pyrolytic acids I knew it was the co-product that that was the potential game changer for biochar and even agriculture. We have been trying to develop funding for the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels.... this has proven difficult to do. 

John
Image.jpeg


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52:20 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
  Nando, 

    We have been producing, testing, using, and selling wood vinegar for over 10 years here in the U.S.  I agree wholeheartedly with your recent post.  By turning all that smoke into very useful products how can it not 1) help the emissions of our biochar equipment, 2) help the economics of the system, 3) provide a powerful and much needed agricultural product, and 4) even enhance the energy take off of the system?
    What is the old saying about trying to fix a problem using the same system that created the problem?  We need to think outside the box (skunk works).  Making a replacement for fossil fuels is challenging.  A "drop in" replacement is very challenging requiring high tech systems and additional chemistry.  Condensing wood gas into wood vinegar and other products is relatively easy by comparison, takes nothing from the biochar process, requires no additional energy, and can be done on any scale of production.  Where is the downside?  The biggest challenge is getting the government out of the way in order to be able to sell it. (Please don't see me as a rebel, I love the government). 
     When you hand a sample of wood vinegar to a chemist they immediately want to break it down into all its component parts.  The problem is that there are between 200 and 300 compounds in wood vinegar.  Isn't it the combination of chemistry that makes this stuff do amazing things, and not just the sum of individual parts?  I don't think that we can expect to be able to take each of those compounds individually, test them out for a given reaction and then add up all those reactions from 200 compounds to see the result.  It's easy for me to say this because I'm not a chemist so I know that I can't do that.  Maybe someone else can.  But what I can do is 1) make sure that I'm not spreading toxins or endangering myself or the environment in some unintended way. 2) research as much information as I can from other informed sources (like chemists) in order to get as much guidance as I can and learn whatever I can from others. 3) do testing and experiments under my own local conditions in order to confirm the effectiveness of the products, and 4) help anyone that I can to reproduce or improve on systems like mine that create wood vinegar while making the best biochar.
    It's taken a long time but the market is growing for wood vinegar.  And I'm convinced, just like for biochar, that if more people understood what it is and what it can do that the market would surge and many would scramble to join in making it and using it.  Once again, I see the education of the public and the government as a big key.
 
 Using wood vinegar we have:

-in some cases doubled the germination rates of seeds
-gotten clear yield increases of 20% in certain crops
-reduced drought damage in field crops
-increased flowering in certain plants by 20%
-driven off moth infestations saving oaks from destruction while simultaneously stimulating the trees to recover.  
-enhanced compost production while reducing odors.

And there are many, many more uses.

    I'm sorry, I don't write science papers, but let me know how I can help.

 To John Miedema:  The skunk works can meet at my house, although zoom might work better.

--
Bob Wells

On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 7:18 PM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:
Rick & Tom,

What we are attempting to do, and we definitely need help in this area, is to develop the commercialization of wood vinegar in the US as both a biological "fertilizer" and a biopesticide (insecticide, bacteriacide, fungicide). All claims of a substance being a pesticide and growth enhancer are regulated by the EPA, and the licensing process is not a trivial matter.

3 points.

1) The value of wood vinegar, if fully realized, can subsidize the co-production of biochar. If its value in the Asian market holds in the western market, (which has yet to be developed, so policy could certainly help here), then the WV produced per tonne of biomass would be about 4 times more valuable than the biochar. Biochar then becomes the co-product that can be sold at a lower price point. To produce the WV, some form of thermally decomposed biomass / biochar has to be produced in a range of 300° C and up. Unlike the co-production of liquid fuels, the co-production of wood vinegar, particularly if done right in a staged process, does not subtract from the amount of carbon retained in the char. There is no compromise in this regard. In fact, carbon is retained in the condensed wood vinegar, which has a very low heating value, rather then being combusted in the flare.

2) Wood vinegar can easily be perceived as an inferior folk remedy compared to chemical pesticides - until you consider why studies in Asia have often demonstrated it to be a superior solution to chemical pesticides. I'm only making a generalized point here - chemical pesticides may be a "better" solution in some cases, (but it depends on how you define "better" I suppose). Plants have evolved a wide array of organic compounds that work synergistically together to defend themselves against fungi, bacteria and insects over some 500 million years. Presumably, it is these organic compounds that are extracted as wood vinegar during the initial stages of thermal decomposition. Plant life has proliferated more than any other terrestrial life form, so somehow, while they are alive, they are very successful at defending themselves. Once they die, the tables suddenly turn, and the bacteria, fungi and insects voraciously consume them. What prevents them from doing that when plants are alive? A working hypothesis is it is the organic compounds that we at least in part extract as wood vinegar.

We may not understand much about how these organic compounds function to protect plants, particularly synergistically, but that does not mean we cannot effectively utilize them.

3) While agricultural producers may find value in increased productivity, a larger concern is often how to keep their productivity from being reduced or decimated by a pathogen. Chemical solutions often exist, but these have 2 main downsides, their environmental toxicity and the fact that a target pathogen often evolves a resistance to them. In certain cases, this can lead to a standoff where the pathogen can no longer be effectively eliminated. Either the solution of last resort is too toxic and has been banned, or the agriculturalist has to learn to live with reduced yields, or it becomes impossible to grow a crop in a given region because there are no known chemical solutions. Examples: red mite in EU poultry farms, a bacterial epidemic Basses Richesses Syndrome spread by cicadas that has wiped out beet farming in France, Switzerland and Germany, a fungal disease called Tropical Race 4 that is destroying banana plantations throughout the world, and a bacterial disease xylella fastidiosa that is wiping out olive trees. There are billions of dollars of losses here, and I'm sure there are examples like these from agriculture in America. Demonstrating that WV can mitigate only one of them could drive the production of very large amounts of biochar.

I can't claim that wood vinegar can immediately solve any case where this is occuring. There is research to undertake, regulatory frameworks to navigate, and economics to nail down,  but I take note of two general facts, and a third that is very specific. One, wood vinegar isn't "toxic". It is approved by the FDA as a meat flavoring under a different term, liquid smoke. And two, bacteria, fungi and insects have not yet managed to evolve resistance to the synergistic functionality of these plant organic compounds - to the point where we see plant life in nature dying off en masse. And three, there are a series of Japanese studies that have conclusively shown that wood vinegar is highly effective against the poultry red mite, and have gone into depth as to why it is highly unlikely that the red mite will be able to evolve resistance to its synergistic effect.

When we congregate a single species in a monoculture, they become more susceptible to being overwhelmed by a pathogen they are vulnerable to. Might a dose of wood vinegar help compensate for this susceptibility, just as vaccines help prime our immune systems to fight off pathogens we have become more susceptible to because our modern lives are so deeply intertwined? There is plentiful Asian research that supports this hypothesis, enough that I think this route is worth pursuing to promote the production and use of biochar.

I know there are multiple, steep challenges here. I'm not claiming WV is a universal biopesticide that can solve any issue. We're simply looking for footholds on a path forward. If we find a way through, then maybe that will clear a path for others to follow, particularly if WV can be an effective solution for a significant agricultural issue.

Commercialization is a lot more steep up close than it appears from a comfortable distance. We definitely could use some help putting some of the pieces of the model I've outlined in place to see if it can work.



CarbonZero
+41 76 303 4477 cell / WhatsApp / Signal (https://signal.org/)


On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 9:07 PM Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Ian, Tom,

A biofuel technology that rejects lots of carbon in the form of biochar could make sense.  Cool Planet would have worked if there was a biochar market. There are long term solutions under development at the National Labs that could address the fuels issue, probably 10 years out however.

I am a big fan of carbon credits. But I would be surprised if they are ever large enough to incentive biochar production.  
The optics of having them could help move products to communities or farms that want to show they are removing carbon, so they pay a premium.

What we need to find are ways to “pay the toll” of producing biochar.  That is an economic/commercial challenge, not a technical one.
Here is my list of potential economic positive plays for biochar, mostly focused on soil .

1.  Co-composting biochar to reduce time to maturity.  This helps where composter is permit capacity restricted, with ample feedstock they could take, moving more material captures tipping fees.

2.  Water savings.  See attached diagram from a recent article from Rice. It takes a lot of biochar to get the 37% savings they claim.  Instead we should use biochar-compost mixes.
Compost as the biochar extender.  Compost water holding capacity is higher than any of the biochar I can get commercially, at least out of the bag.  Biochar stabilizes compost.
Focus on where water costs are high.


3.  Sodic Soil remediation.  This is a super big problem.  In CA there are something like 250,000 acres where they have moved away from high value crops because of salt building.  Adding compost is key here, because it brings CA and MG which push out Sodium, and also potassium which aids in plant water use efficiency.  Biochar adds porosity to facilitate leaching and stabilizes compost. 

4.  Degraded soils - conventional farming. At some point a farmer has to build soil organic matter, having operated the farm like a hydroponics system, destroying carbon. Otherwise chemical costs (fungicides, herbicides) rise and micronutrients get depleted, yields go down, water costs go up.  Compost is the key ingredient.  Biochar stabilizes the compost.

5.  Asphalt blending?  The question is how much more will buyers pay for a biochar amended asphalt with superior properties (longer life span).  I don’t know the answer but I could see how this may work, having spent 17 years in oil refining.

6.  Dairy / Cattle farming.  Possible net benefits increasing yield and reducing RX costs, still early stage.

I avoid trying to use biochar to improve agriculture productivity, with regard to nutrient cycling.  Yes biochar will increase soil nitrates.  But, a conventional, or an organic farmer, will get more bang by timing whey the add nutrients through fertigation, rather than waiting for the biochar to help release or create nitrates for feeding the plant. (This is the reason organic farmers get lower yields, because they struggle with the timing of nutrient demand by the plant).  Its also easy to get lured into being excited from biochar farm trials that improve yield, most of the time this benefit comes from the biochar fixing a pH problem, and adding lime is much lower cost way to do this.

I would be interested in learning about other economic applications of biochar, not dependent on carbon credits?

Rick






On Mar 15, 2021, at 10:23 AM, Ian McChesney <ian.mcchesney@...> wrote:

I agree with Nando that we need much better carbon management. Ideally, before we have a real climate crisis to deal with. However, backing biochar to ride home on a biofuel horse could be a risky bet.

Politicians understand money management and know that paying for carbon management is going to be a vote loser, so what policies could appeal : 

Carrot - supply side initiatives based on ‘advanced’ tech to provide a ‘solution’ to this problem eg. biofuels, GTL etc. Looks good, but always needs subsidies in a market with untaxed fossils. 

Stick - tax fossils eg. fuel duty rises. Looks bad. Better to regulate and make industry dish out the pain eg. ban petrol engines. Just before this hurts, relent, and you are the good guy again.

Politicians could be bold and swop income tax for a carbon tax. That would change behaviour overnight, but mostly politicians don’t (really) want to change things. We end up running old coal plants on (US) wood chip over here (and you are making biochar in old boilers over there) as an easy ‘get out of jail free’ option. 

Yes, fossil carbon does need to stay in the ground and yes, we can make a kerosene replacement for planes from spare land, but consumers should pay the full price for this. At the same time we also need innovation and investment to build entirely new and more resilient carbon management systems. 

  

Maybe there is still life in Cap and Trade ? If the current ETS price of $50/ton CO2 had applied 10yrs ago we might have already have a developed a smart, decentralised pyrolysis infrastructure based on micro turbines, biochar etc. 

The benefit of a centralised biofuels + biochar approach is that you can claim reduction as well as removal  Politicians understand this sounds good, but the tech needed to deliver it is tricky and expensive and has so far not delivered.

We should therefore not exclude cheaper ‘burning’ removal only systems.and persuade the politicians to consider backing simpler biochar + products solutions as a way of hedging their bet on biofuel. That’s something they do understand.


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



--
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



Bob Wells
 

John, 

    How do you define "the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels" ?

    Are you familiar with the work done on WV by Elllen Graber?


On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 4:14 PM John Miedema <jmiedema@...> wrote:
Bob-  I’m happy to head up the West coast division of Biochar Skunkworks - advanced applied integrated Carbon reductive research and demonstration centers.... 

Albert can manage the Central American branch office..... 

Ever since I first started harvesting and using the pyrolytic acids I knew it was the co-product that that was the potential game changer for biochar and even agriculture. We have been trying to develop funding for the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels.... this has proven difficult to do. 

John
Image.jpeg


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52:20 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
  Nando, 

    We have been producing, testing, using, and selling wood vinegar for over 10 years here in the U.S.  I agree wholeheartedly with your recent post.  By turning all that smoke into very useful products how can it not 1) help the emissions of our biochar equipment, 2) help the economics of the system, 3) provide a powerful and much needed agricultural product, and 4) even enhance the energy take off of the system?
    What is the old saying about trying to fix a problem using the same system that created the problem?  We need to think outside the box (skunk works).  Making a replacement for fossil fuels is challenging.  A "drop in" replacement is very challenging requiring high tech systems and additional chemistry.  Condensing wood gas into wood vinegar and other products is relatively easy by comparison, takes nothing from the biochar process, requires no additional energy, and can be done on any scale of production.  Where is the downside?  The biggest challenge is getting the government out of the way in order to be able to sell it. (Please don't see me as a rebel, I love the government). 
     When you hand a sample of wood vinegar to a chemist they immediately want to break it down into all its component parts.  The problem is that there are between 200 and 300 compounds in wood vinegar.  Isn't it the combination of chemistry that makes this stuff do amazing things, and not just the sum of individual parts?  I don't think that we can expect to be able to take each of those compounds individually, test them out for a given reaction and then add up all those reactions from 200 compounds to see the result.  It's easy for me to say this because I'm not a chemist so I know that I can't do that.  Maybe someone else can.  But what I can do is 1) make sure that I'm not spreading toxins or endangering myself or the environment in some unintended way. 2) research as much information as I can from other informed sources (like chemists) in order to get as much guidance as I can and learn whatever I can from others. 3) do testing and experiments under my own local conditions in order to confirm the effectiveness of the products, and 4) help anyone that I can to reproduce or improve on systems like mine that create wood vinegar while making the best biochar.
    It's taken a long time but the market is growing for wood vinegar.  And I'm convinced, just like for biochar, that if more people understood what it is and what it can do that the market would surge and many would scramble to join in making it and using it.  Once again, I see the education of the public and the government as a big key.
 
 Using wood vinegar we have:

-in some cases doubled the germination rates of seeds
-gotten clear yield increases of 20% in certain crops
-reduced drought damage in field crops
-increased flowering in certain plants by 20%
-driven off moth infestations saving oaks from destruction while simultaneously stimulating the trees to recover.  
-enhanced compost production while reducing odors.

And there are many, many more uses.

    I'm sorry, I don't write science papers, but let me know how I can help.

 To John Miedema:  The skunk works can meet at my house, although zoom might work better.

--
Bob Wells

On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 7:18 PM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:
Rick & Tom,

What we are attempting to do, and we definitely need help in this area, is to develop the commercialization of wood vinegar in the US as both a biological "fertilizer" and a biopesticide (insecticide, bacteriacide, fungicide). All claims of a substance being a pesticide and growth enhancer are regulated by the EPA, and the licensing process is not a trivial matter.

3 points.

1) The value of wood vinegar, if fully realized, can subsidize the co-production of biochar. If its value in the Asian market holds in the western market, (which has yet to be developed, so policy could certainly help here), then the WV produced per tonne of biomass would be about 4 times more valuable than the biochar. Biochar then becomes the co-product that can be sold at a lower price point. To produce the WV, some form of thermally decomposed biomass / biochar has to be produced in a range of 300° C and up. Unlike the co-production of liquid fuels, the co-production of wood vinegar, particularly if done right in a staged process, does not subtract from the amount of carbon retained in the char. There is no compromise in this regard. In fact, carbon is retained in the condensed wood vinegar, which has a very low heating value, rather then being combusted in the flare.

2) Wood vinegar can easily be perceived as an inferior folk remedy compared to chemical pesticides - until you consider why studies in Asia have often demonstrated it to be a superior solution to chemical pesticides. I'm only making a generalized point here - chemical pesticides may be a "better" solution in some cases, (but it depends on how you define "better" I suppose). Plants have evolved a wide array of organic compounds that work synergistically together to defend themselves against fungi, bacteria and insects over some 500 million years. Presumably, it is these organic compounds that are extracted as wood vinegar during the initial stages of thermal decomposition. Plant life has proliferated more than any other terrestrial life form, so somehow, while they are alive, they are very successful at defending themselves. Once they die, the tables suddenly turn, and the bacteria, fungi and insects voraciously consume them. What prevents them from doing that when plants are alive? A working hypothesis is it is the organic compounds that we at least in part extract as wood vinegar.

We may not understand much about how these organic compounds function to protect plants, particularly synergistically, but that does not mean we cannot effectively utilize them.

3) While agricultural producers may find value in increased productivity, a larger concern is often how to keep their productivity from being reduced or decimated by a pathogen. Chemical solutions often exist, but these have 2 main downsides, their environmental toxicity and the fact that a target pathogen often evolves a resistance to them. In certain cases, this can lead to a standoff where the pathogen can no longer be effectively eliminated. Either the solution of last resort is too toxic and has been banned, or the agriculturalist has to learn to live with reduced yields, or it becomes impossible to grow a crop in a given region because there are no known chemical solutions. Examples: red mite in EU poultry farms, a bacterial epidemic Basses Richesses Syndrome spread by cicadas that has wiped out beet farming in France, Switzerland and Germany, a fungal disease called Tropical Race 4 that is destroying banana plantations throughout the world, and a bacterial disease xylella fastidiosa that is wiping out olive trees. There are billions of dollars of losses here, and I'm sure there are examples like these from agriculture in America. Demonstrating that WV can mitigate only one of them could drive the production of very large amounts of biochar.

I can't claim that wood vinegar can immediately solve any case where this is occuring. There is research to undertake, regulatory frameworks to navigate, and economics to nail down,  but I take note of two general facts, and a third that is very specific. One, wood vinegar isn't "toxic". It is approved by the FDA as a meat flavoring under a different term, liquid smoke. And two, bacteria, fungi and insects have not yet managed to evolve resistance to the synergistic functionality of these plant organic compounds - to the point where we see plant life in nature dying off en masse. And three, there are a series of Japanese studies that have conclusively shown that wood vinegar is highly effective against the poultry red mite, and have gone into depth as to why it is highly unlikely that the red mite will be able to evolve resistance to its synergistic effect.

When we congregate a single species in a monoculture, they become more susceptible to being overwhelmed by a pathogen they are vulnerable to. Might a dose of wood vinegar help compensate for this susceptibility, just as vaccines help prime our immune systems to fight off pathogens we have become more susceptible to because our modern lives are so deeply intertwined? There is plentiful Asian research that supports this hypothesis, enough that I think this route is worth pursuing to promote the production and use of biochar.

I know there are multiple, steep challenges here. I'm not claiming WV is a universal biopesticide that can solve any issue. We're simply looking for footholds on a path forward. If we find a way through, then maybe that will clear a path for others to follow, particularly if WV can be an effective solution for a significant agricultural issue.

Commercialization is a lot more steep up close than it appears from a comfortable distance. We definitely could use some help putting some of the pieces of the model I've outlined in place to see if it can work.



CarbonZero
+41 76 303 4477 cell / WhatsApp / Signal (https://signal.org/)


On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 9:07 PM Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Ian, Tom,

A biofuel technology that rejects lots of carbon in the form of biochar could make sense.  Cool Planet would have worked if there was a biochar market. There are long term solutions under development at the National Labs that could address the fuels issue, probably 10 years out however.

I am a big fan of carbon credits. But I would be surprised if they are ever large enough to incentive biochar production.  
The optics of having them could help move products to communities or farms that want to show they are removing carbon, so they pay a premium.

What we need to find are ways to “pay the toll” of producing biochar.  That is an economic/commercial challenge, not a technical one.
Here is my list of potential economic positive plays for biochar, mostly focused on soil .

1.  Co-composting biochar to reduce time to maturity.  This helps where composter is permit capacity restricted, with ample feedstock they could take, moving more material captures tipping fees.

2.  Water savings.  See attached diagram from a recent article from Rice. It takes a lot of biochar to get the 37% savings they claim.  Instead we should use biochar-compost mixes.
Compost as the biochar extender.  Compost water holding capacity is higher than any of the biochar I can get commercially, at least out of the bag.  Biochar stabilizes compost.
Focus on where water costs are high.


3.  Sodic Soil remediation.  This is a super big problem.  In CA there are something like 250,000 acres where they have moved away from high value crops because of salt building.  Adding compost is key here, because it brings CA and MG which push out Sodium, and also potassium which aids in plant water use efficiency.  Biochar adds porosity to facilitate leaching and stabilizes compost. 

4.  Degraded soils - conventional farming. At some point a farmer has to build soil organic matter, having operated the farm like a hydroponics system, destroying carbon. Otherwise chemical costs (fungicides, herbicides) rise and micronutrients get depleted, yields go down, water costs go up.  Compost is the key ingredient.  Biochar stabilizes the compost.

5.  Asphalt blending?  The question is how much more will buyers pay for a biochar amended asphalt with superior properties (longer life span).  I don’t know the answer but I could see how this may work, having spent 17 years in oil refining.

6.  Dairy / Cattle farming.  Possible net benefits increasing yield and reducing RX costs, still early stage.

I avoid trying to use biochar to improve agriculture productivity, with regard to nutrient cycling.  Yes biochar will increase soil nitrates.  But, a conventional, or an organic farmer, will get more bang by timing whey the add nutrients through fertigation, rather than waiting for the biochar to help release or create nitrates for feeding the plant. (This is the reason organic farmers get lower yields, because they struggle with the timing of nutrient demand by the plant).  Its also easy to get lured into being excited from biochar farm trials that improve yield, most of the time this benefit comes from the biochar fixing a pH problem, and adding lime is much lower cost way to do this.

I would be interested in learning about other economic applications of biochar, not dependent on carbon credits?

Rick






On Mar 15, 2021, at 10:23 AM, Ian McChesney <ian.mcchesney@...> wrote:

I agree with Nando that we need much better carbon management. Ideally, before we have a real climate crisis to deal with. However, backing biochar to ride home on a biofuel horse could be a risky bet.

Politicians understand money management and know that paying for carbon management is going to be a vote loser, so what policies could appeal : 

Carrot - supply side initiatives based on ‘advanced’ tech to provide a ‘solution’ to this problem eg. biofuels, GTL etc. Looks good, but always needs subsidies in a market with untaxed fossils. 

Stick - tax fossils eg. fuel duty rises. Looks bad. Better to regulate and make industry dish out the pain eg. ban petrol engines. Just before this hurts, relent, and you are the good guy again.

Politicians could be bold and swop income tax for a carbon tax. That would change behaviour overnight, but mostly politicians don’t (really) want to change things. We end up running old coal plants on (US) wood chip over here (and you are making biochar in old boilers over there) as an easy ‘get out of jail free’ option. 

Yes, fossil carbon does need to stay in the ground and yes, we can make a kerosene replacement for planes from spare land, but consumers should pay the full price for this. At the same time we also need innovation and investment to build entirely new and more resilient carbon management systems. 

  

Maybe there is still life in Cap and Trade ? If the current ETS price of $50/ton CO2 had applied 10yrs ago we might have already have a developed a smart, decentralised pyrolysis infrastructure based on micro turbines, biochar etc. 

The benefit of a centralised biofuels + biochar approach is that you can claim reduction as well as removal  Politicians understand this sounds good, but the tech needed to deliver it is tricky and expensive and has so far not delivered.

We should therefore not exclude cheaper ‘burning’ removal only systems.and persuade the politicians to consider backing simpler biochar + products solutions as a way of hedging their bet on biofuel. That’s something they do understand.


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



--
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




--
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



John Miedema
 

Hello Bob - busy day here so I’ll have to keep it short for now. 
Essentially any claims using the terms “fungicide” or “pesticide” will take several years and likely millions of dollars to be able to put on a label in the USA. Yes pyroligneous acid (PA) as “wood smoke” flavoring  is considered GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA. But I think anyone selling their PA from  biochar production should have toxicology studies done on their PA prior to selling it for use. Without knowing what you are doing there is significant potential for unintended consequences from this derivative of the destructive distillation of biomass - PAHs, Benzene, toluene, furans... 

I do know of Dr Graber’s work and I’m a big fan. 

Let’s catch up soon Bob - it’s been way too long

J


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 7:46:00 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
John, 

    How do you define "the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels" ?

    Are you familiar with the work done on WV by Elllen Graber?

On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 4:14 PM John Miedema <jmiedema@...> wrote:
Bob-  I’m happy to head up the West coast division of Biochar Skunkworks - advanced applied integrated Carbon reductive research and demonstration centers.... 

Albert can manage the Central American branch office..... 

Ever since I first started harvesting and using the pyrolytic acids I knew it was the co-product that that was the potential game changer for biochar and even agriculture. We have been trying to develop funding for the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels.... this has proven difficult to do. 

John
Image.jpeg


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52:20 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
  Nando, 

    We have been producing, testing, using, and selling wood vinegar for over 10 years here in the U.S.  I agree wholeheartedly with your recent post.  By turning all that smoke into very useful products how can it not 1) help the emissions of our biochar equipment, 2) help the economics of the system, 3) provide a powerful and much needed agricultural product, and 4) even enhance the energy take off of the system?
    What is the old saying about trying to fix a problem using the same system that created the problem?  We need to think outside the box (skunk works).  Making a replacement for fossil fuels is challenging.  A "drop in" replacement is very challenging requiring high tech systems and additional chemistry.  Condensing wood gas into wood vinegar and other products is relatively easy by comparison, takes nothing from the biochar process, requires no additional energy, and can be done on any scale of production.  Where is the downside?  The biggest challenge is getting the government out of the way in order to be able to sell it. (Please don't see me as a rebel, I love the government). 
     When you hand a sample of wood vinegar to a chemist they immediately want to break it down into all its component parts.  The problem is that there are between 200 and 300 compounds in wood vinegar.  Isn't it the combination of chemistry that makes this stuff do amazing things, and not just the sum of individual parts?  I don't think that we can expect to be able to take each of those compounds individually, test them out for a given reaction and then add up all those reactions from 200 compounds to see the result.  It's easy for me to say this because I'm not a chemist so I know that I can't do that.  Maybe someone else can.  But what I can do is 1) make sure that I'm not spreading toxins or endangering myself or the environment in some unintended way. 2) research as much information as I can from other informed sources (like chemists) in order to get as much guidance as I can and learn whatever I can from others. 3) do testing and experiments under my own local conditions in order to confirm the effectiveness of the products, and 4) help anyone that I can to reproduce or improve on systems like mine that create wood vinegar while making the best biochar.
    It's taken a long time but the market is growing for wood vinegar.  And I'm convinced, just like for biochar, that if more people understood what it is and what it can do that the market would surge and many would scramble to join in making it and using it.  Once again, I see the education of the public and the government as a big key.
 
 Using wood vinegar we have:

-in some cases doubled the germination rates of seeds
-gotten clear yield increases of 20% in certain crops
-reduced drought damage in field crops
-increased flowering in certain plants by 20%
-driven off moth infestations saving oaks from destruction while simultaneously stimulating the trees to recover.  
-enhanced compost production while reducing odors.

And there are many, many more uses.

    I'm sorry, I don't write science papers, but let me know how I can help.

 To John Miedema:  The skunk works can meet at my house, although zoom might work better.

--
Bob Wells

On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 7:18 PM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:
Rick & Tom,

What we are attempting to do, and we definitely need help in this area, is to develop the commercialization of wood vinegar in the US as both a biological "fertilizer" and a biopesticide (insecticide, bacteriacide, fungicide). All claims of a substance being a pesticide and growth enhancer are regulated by the EPA, and the licensing process is not a trivial matter.

3 points.

1) The value of wood vinegar, if fully realized, can subsidize the co-production of biochar. If its value in the Asian market holds in the western market, (which has yet to be developed, so policy could certainly help here), then the WV produced per tonne of biomass would be about 4 times more valuable than the biochar. Biochar then becomes the co-product that can be sold at a lower price point. To produce the WV, some form of thermally decomposed biomass / biochar has to be produced in a range of 300° C and up. Unlike the co-production of liquid fuels, the co-production of wood vinegar, particularly if done right in a staged process, does not subtract from the amount of carbon retained in the char. There is no compromise in this regard. In fact, carbon is retained in the condensed wood vinegar, which has a very low heating value, rather then being combusted in the flare.

2) Wood vinegar can easily be perceived as an inferior folk remedy compared to chemical pesticides - until you consider why studies in Asia have often demonstrated it to be a superior solution to chemical pesticides. I'm only making a generalized point here - chemical pesticides may be a "better" solution in some cases, (but it depends on how you define "better" I suppose). Plants have evolved a wide array of organic compounds that work synergistically together to defend themselves against fungi, bacteria and insects over some 500 million years. Presumably, it is these organic compounds that are extracted as wood vinegar during the initial stages of thermal decomposition. Plant life has proliferated more than any other terrestrial life form, so somehow, while they are alive, they are very successful at defending themselves. Once they die, the tables suddenly turn, and the bacteria, fungi and insects voraciously consume them. What prevents them from doing that when plants are alive? A working hypothesis is it is the organic compounds that we at least in part extract as wood vinegar.

We may not understand much about how these organic compounds function to protect plants, particularly synergistically, but that does not mean we cannot effectively utilize them.

3) While agricultural producers may find value in increased productivity, a larger concern is often how to keep their productivity from being reduced or decimated by a pathogen. Chemical solutions often exist, but these have 2 main downsides, their environmental toxicity and the fact that a target pathogen often evolves a resistance to them. In certain cases, this can lead to a standoff where the pathogen can no longer be effectively eliminated. Either the solution of last resort is too toxic and has been banned, or the agriculturalist has to learn to live with reduced yields, or it becomes impossible to grow a crop in a given region because there are no known chemical solutions. Examples: red mite in EU poultry farms, a bacterial epidemic Basses Richesses Syndrome spread by cicadas that has wiped out beet farming in France, Switzerland and Germany, a fungal disease called Tropical Race 4 that is destroying banana plantations throughout the world, and a bacterial disease xylella fastidiosa that is wiping out olive trees. There are billions of dollars of losses here, and I'm sure there are examples like these from agriculture in America. Demonstrating that WV can mitigate only one of them could drive the production of very large amounts of biochar.

I can't claim that wood vinegar can immediately solve any case where this is occuring. There is research to undertake, regulatory frameworks to navigate, and economics to nail down,  but I take note of two general facts, and a third that is very specific. One, wood vinegar isn't "toxic". It is approved by the FDA as a meat flavoring under a different term, liquid smoke. And two, bacteria, fungi and insects have not yet managed to evolve resistance to the synergistic functionality of these plant organic compounds - to the point where we see plant life in nature dying off en masse. And three, there are a series of Japanese studies that have conclusively shown that wood vinegar is highly effective against the poultry red mite, and have gone into depth as to why it is highly unlikely that the red mite will be able to evolve resistance to its synergistic effect.

When we congregate a single species in a monoculture, they become more susceptible to being overwhelmed by a pathogen they are vulnerable to. Might a dose of wood vinegar help compensate for this susceptibility, just as vaccines help prime our immune systems to fight off pathogens we have become more susceptible to because our modern lives are so deeply intertwined? There is plentiful Asian research that supports this hypothesis, enough that I think this route is worth pursuing to promote the production and use of biochar.

I know there are multiple, steep challenges here. I'm not claiming WV is a universal biopesticide that can solve any issue. We're simply looking for footholds on a path forward. If we find a way through, then maybe that will clear a path for others to follow, particularly if WV can be an effective solution for a significant agricultural issue.

Commercialization is a lot more steep up close than it appears from a comfortable distance. We definitely could use some help putting some of the pieces of the model I've outlined in place to see if it can work.



CarbonZero
+41 76 303 4477 cell / WhatsApp / Signal (https://signal.org/)


On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 9:07 PM Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Ian, Tom,

A biofuel technology that rejects lots of carbon in the form of biochar could make sense.  Cool Planet would have worked if there was a biochar market. There are long term solutions under development at the National Labs that could address the fuels issue, probably 10 years out however.

I am a big fan of carbon credits. But I would be surprised if they are ever large enough to incentive biochar production.  
The optics of having them could help move products to communities or farms that want to show they are removing carbon, so they pay a premium.

What we need to find are ways to “pay the toll” of producing biochar.  That is an economic/commercial challenge, not a technical one.
Here is my list of potential economic positive plays for biochar, mostly focused on soil .

1.  Co-composting biochar to reduce time to maturity.  This helps where composter is permit capacity restricted, with ample feedstock they could take, moving more material captures tipping fees.

2.  Water savings.  See attached diagram from a recent article from Rice. It takes a lot of biochar to get the 37% savings they claim.  Instead we should use biochar-compost mixes.
Compost as the biochar extender.  Compost water holding capacity is higher than any of the biochar I can get commercially, at least out of the bag.  Biochar stabilizes compost.
Focus on where water costs are high.


3.  Sodic Soil remediation.  This is a super big problem.  In CA there are something like 250,000 acres where they have moved away from high value crops because of salt building.  Adding compost is key here, because it brings CA and MG which push out Sodium, and also potassium which aids in plant water use efficiency.  Biochar adds porosity to facilitate leaching and stabilizes compost. 

4.  Degraded soils - conventional farming. At some point a farmer has to build soil organic matter, having operated the farm like a hydroponics system, destroying carbon. Otherwise chemical costs (fungicides, herbicides) rise and micronutrients get depleted, yields go down, water costs go up.  Compost is the key ingredient.  Biochar stabilizes the compost.

5.  Asphalt blending?  The question is how much more will buyers pay for a biochar amended asphalt with superior properties (longer life span).  I don’t know the answer but I could see how this may work, having spent 17 years in oil refining.

6.  Dairy / Cattle farming.  Possible net benefits increasing yield and reducing RX costs, still early stage.

I avoid trying to use biochar to improve agriculture productivity, with regard to nutrient cycling.  Yes biochar will increase soil nitrates.  But, a conventional, or an organic farmer, will get more bang by timing whey the add nutrients through fertigation, rather than waiting for the biochar to help release or create nitrates for feeding the plant. (This is the reason organic farmers get lower yields, because they struggle with the timing of nutrient demand by the plant).  Its also easy to get lured into being excited from biochar farm trials that improve yield, most of the time this benefit comes from the biochar fixing a pH problem, and adding lime is much lower cost way to do this.

I would be interested in learning about other economic applications of biochar, not dependent on carbon credits?

Rick






On Mar 15, 2021, at 10:23 AM, Ian McChesney <ian.mcchesney@...> wrote:

I agree with Nando that we need much better carbon management. Ideally, before we have a real climate crisis to deal with. However, backing biochar to ride home on a biofuel horse could be a risky bet.

Politicians understand money management and know that paying for carbon management is going to be a vote loser, so what policies could appeal : 

Carrot - supply side initiatives based on ‘advanced’ tech to provide a ‘solution’ to this problem eg. biofuels, GTL etc. Looks good, but always needs subsidies in a market with untaxed fossils. 

Stick - tax fossils eg. fuel duty rises. Looks bad. Better to regulate and make industry dish out the pain eg. ban petrol engines. Just before this hurts, relent, and you are the good guy again.

Politicians could be bold and swop income tax for a carbon tax. That would change behaviour overnight, but mostly politicians don’t (really) want to change things. We end up running old coal plants on (US) wood chip over here (and you are making biochar in old boilers over there) as an easy ‘get out of jail free’ option. 

Yes, fossil carbon does need to stay in the ground and yes, we can make a kerosene replacement for planes from spare land, but consumers should pay the full price for this. At the same time we also need innovation and investment to build entirely new and more resilient carbon management systems. 

  

Maybe there is still life in Cap and Trade ? If the current ETS price of $50/ton CO2 had applied 10yrs ago we might have already have a developed a smart, decentralised pyrolysis infrastructure based on micro turbines, biochar etc. 

The benefit of a centralised biofuels + biochar approach is that you can claim reduction as well as removal  Politicians understand this sounds good, but the tech needed to deliver it is tricky and expensive and has so far not delivered.

We should therefore not exclude cheaper ‘burning’ removal only systems.and persuade the politicians to consider backing simpler biochar + products solutions as a way of hedging their bet on biofuel. That’s something they do understand.


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



--
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




--
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



Nando Breiter
 

Bob,

All substances marketed in the US as a pesticide are regulated by the EPA via the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. There is an exempt list, but wood vinegar is not on it, and I'm told that this list hasn't changed in decades and it would almost certainly be a very expensive and time consuming process, much more so than simply registering.

I assume that wood vinegar would be regarded as a biopesticide, so here's the entry point to the documentation regarding certification: https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides. As long as it is considered a biopesticide, the registration fees are significantly discounted. They are also discounted further for startups, so while John's impression that the costs would amount to millions is correct for chemical pesticides, it does not seem to be the case for WV.

I also note that there are a number of small scale vendors in the US that have flown under the radar so far, and that many of them simply run with the claim that WV is a "fertilizer". The term "growth enhancer" probably should be avoided in the US because "hormonal" growth enhancers in agriculture are also regulated under the EPA.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act is summarized here: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act


Do you have links to Elllen Graber work on WV? She's in Australia if I remember correctly ... ?

n


On Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 3:46 PM Bob Wells <bob@...> wrote:
John, 

    How do you define "the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels" ?

    Are you familiar with the work done on WV by Elllen Graber?

On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 4:14 PM John Miedema <jmiedema@...> wrote:
Bob-  I’m happy to head up the West coast division of Biochar Skunkworks - advanced applied integrated Carbon reductive research and demonstration centers.... 

Albert can manage the Central American branch office..... 

Ever since I first started harvesting and using the pyrolytic acids I knew it was the co-product that that was the potential game changer for biochar and even agriculture. We have been trying to develop funding for the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels.... this has proven difficult to do. 

John
Image.jpeg


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52:20 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
  Nando, 

    We have been producing, testing, using, and selling wood vinegar for over 10 years here in the U.S.  I agree wholeheartedly with your recent post.  By turning all that smoke into very useful products how can it not 1) help the emissions of our biochar equipment, 2) help the economics of the system, 3) provide a powerful and much needed agricultural product, and 4) even enhance the energy take off of the system?
    What is the old saying about trying to fix a problem using the same system that created the problem?  We need to think outside the box (skunk works).  Making a replacement for fossil fuels is challenging.  A "drop in" replacement is very challenging requiring high tech systems and additional chemistry.  Condensing wood gas into wood vinegar and other products is relatively easy by comparison, takes nothing from the biochar process, requires no additional energy, and can be done on any scale of production.  Where is the downside?  The biggest challenge is getting the government out of the way in order to be able to sell it. (Please don't see me as a rebel, I love the government). 
     When you hand a sample of wood vinegar to a chemist they immediately want to break it down into all its component parts.  The problem is that there are between 200 and 300 compounds in wood vinegar.  Isn't it the combination of chemistry that makes this stuff do amazing things, and not just the sum of individual parts?  I don't think that we can expect to be able to take each of those compounds individually, test them out for a given reaction and then add up all those reactions from 200 compounds to see the result.  It's easy for me to say this because I'm not a chemist so I know that I can't do that.  Maybe someone else can.  But what I can do is 1) make sure that I'm not spreading toxins or endangering myself or the environment in some unintended way. 2) research as much information as I can from other informed sources (like chemists) in order to get as much guidance as I can and learn whatever I can from others. 3) do testing and experiments under my own local conditions in order to confirm the effectiveness of the products, and 4) help anyone that I can to reproduce or improve on systems like mine that create wood vinegar while making the best biochar.
    It's taken a long time but the market is growing for wood vinegar.  And I'm convinced, just like for biochar, that if more people understood what it is and what it can do that the market would surge and many would scramble to join in making it and using it.  Once again, I see the education of the public and the government as a big key.
 
 Using wood vinegar we have:

-in some cases doubled the germination rates of seeds
-gotten clear yield increases of 20% in certain crops
-reduced drought damage in field crops
-increased flowering in certain plants by 20%
-driven off moth infestations saving oaks from destruction while simultaneously stimulating the trees to recover.  
-enhanced compost production while reducing odors.

And there are many, many more uses.

    I'm sorry, I don't write science papers, but let me know how I can help.

 To John Miedema:  The skunk works can meet at my house, although zoom might work better.

--
Bob Wells

On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 7:18 PM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:
Rick & Tom,

What we are attempting to do, and we definitely need help in this area, is to develop the commercialization of wood vinegar in the US as both a biological "fertilizer" and a biopesticide (insecticide, bacteriacide, fungicide). All claims of a substance being a pesticide and growth enhancer are regulated by the EPA, and the licensing process is not a trivial matter.

3 points.

1) The value of wood vinegar, if fully realized, can subsidize the co-production of biochar. If its value in the Asian market holds in the western market, (which has yet to be developed, so policy could certainly help here), then the WV produced per tonne of biomass would be about 4 times more valuable than the biochar. Biochar then becomes the co-product that can be sold at a lower price point. To produce the WV, some form of thermally decomposed biomass / biochar has to be produced in a range of 300° C and up. Unlike the co-production of liquid fuels, the co-production of wood vinegar, particularly if done right in a staged process, does not subtract from the amount of carbon retained in the char. There is no compromise in this regard. In fact, carbon is retained in the condensed wood vinegar, which has a very low heating value, rather then being combusted in the flare.

2) Wood vinegar can easily be perceived as an inferior folk remedy compared to chemical pesticides - until you consider why studies in Asia have often demonstrated it to be a superior solution to chemical pesticides. I'm only making a generalized point here - chemical pesticides may be a "better" solution in some cases, (but it depends on how you define "better" I suppose). Plants have evolved a wide array of organic compounds that work synergistically together to defend themselves against fungi, bacteria and insects over some 500 million years. Presumably, it is these organic compounds that are extracted as wood vinegar during the initial stages of thermal decomposition. Plant life has proliferated more than any other terrestrial life form, so somehow, while they are alive, they are very successful at defending themselves. Once they die, the tables suddenly turn, and the bacteria, fungi and insects voraciously consume them. What prevents them from doing that when plants are alive? A working hypothesis is it is the organic compounds that we at least in part extract as wood vinegar.

We may not understand much about how these organic compounds function to protect plants, particularly synergistically, but that does not mean we cannot effectively utilize them.

3) While agricultural producers may find value in increased productivity, a larger concern is often how to keep their productivity from being reduced or decimated by a pathogen. Chemical solutions often exist, but these have 2 main downsides, their environmental toxicity and the fact that a target pathogen often evolves a resistance to them. In certain cases, this can lead to a standoff where the pathogen can no longer be effectively eliminated. Either the solution of last resort is too toxic and has been banned, or the agriculturalist has to learn to live with reduced yields, or it becomes impossible to grow a crop in a given region because there are no known chemical solutions. Examples: red mite in EU poultry farms, a bacterial epidemic Basses Richesses Syndrome spread by cicadas that has wiped out beet farming in France, Switzerland and Germany, a fungal disease called Tropical Race 4 that is destroying banana plantations throughout the world, and a bacterial disease xylella fastidiosa that is wiping out olive trees. There are billions of dollars of losses here, and I'm sure there are examples like these from agriculture in America. Demonstrating that WV can mitigate only one of them could drive the production of very large amounts of biochar.

I can't claim that wood vinegar can immediately solve any case where this is occuring. There is research to undertake, regulatory frameworks to navigate, and economics to nail down,  but I take note of two general facts, and a third that is very specific. One, wood vinegar isn't "toxic". It is approved by the FDA as a meat flavoring under a different term, liquid smoke. And two, bacteria, fungi and insects have not yet managed to evolve resistance to the synergistic functionality of these plant organic compounds - to the point where we see plant life in nature dying off en masse. And three, there are a series of Japanese studies that have conclusively shown that wood vinegar is highly effective against the poultry red mite, and have gone into depth as to why it is highly unlikely that the red mite will be able to evolve resistance to its synergistic effect.

When we congregate a single species in a monoculture, they become more susceptible to being overwhelmed by a pathogen they are vulnerable to. Might a dose of wood vinegar help compensate for this susceptibility, just as vaccines help prime our immune systems to fight off pathogens we have become more susceptible to because our modern lives are so deeply intertwined? There is plentiful Asian research that supports this hypothesis, enough that I think this route is worth pursuing to promote the production and use of biochar.

I know there are multiple, steep challenges here. I'm not claiming WV is a universal biopesticide that can solve any issue. We're simply looking for footholds on a path forward. If we find a way through, then maybe that will clear a path for others to follow, particularly if WV can be an effective solution for a significant agricultural issue.

Commercialization is a lot more steep up close than it appears from a comfortable distance. We definitely could use some help putting some of the pieces of the model I've outlined in place to see if it can work.



CarbonZero
+41 76 303 4477 cell / WhatsApp / Signal (https://signal.org/)


On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 9:07 PM Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Ian, Tom,

A biofuel technology that rejects lots of carbon in the form of biochar could make sense.  Cool Planet would have worked if there was a biochar market. There are long term solutions under development at the National Labs that could address the fuels issue, probably 10 years out however.

I am a big fan of carbon credits. But I would be surprised if they are ever large enough to incentive biochar production.  
The optics of having them could help move products to communities or farms that want to show they are removing carbon, so they pay a premium.

What we need to find are ways to “pay the toll” of producing biochar.  That is an economic/commercial challenge, not a technical one.
Here is my list of potential economic positive plays for biochar, mostly focused on soil .

1.  Co-composting biochar to reduce time to maturity.  This helps where composter is permit capacity restricted, with ample feedstock they could take, moving more material captures tipping fees.

2.  Water savings.  See attached diagram from a recent article from Rice. It takes a lot of biochar to get the 37% savings they claim.  Instead we should use biochar-compost mixes.
Compost as the biochar extender.  Compost water holding capacity is higher than any of the biochar I can get commercially, at least out of the bag.  Biochar stabilizes compost.
Focus on where water costs are high.


3.  Sodic Soil remediation.  This is a super big problem.  In CA there are something like 250,000 acres where they have moved away from high value crops because of salt building.  Adding compost is key here, because it brings CA and MG which push out Sodium, and also potassium which aids in plant water use efficiency.  Biochar adds porosity to facilitate leaching and stabilizes compost. 

4.  Degraded soils - conventional farming. At some point a farmer has to build soil organic matter, having operated the farm like a hydroponics system, destroying carbon. Otherwise chemical costs (fungicides, herbicides) rise and micronutrients get depleted, yields go down, water costs go up.  Compost is the key ingredient.  Biochar stabilizes the compost.

5.  Asphalt blending?  The question is how much more will buyers pay for a biochar amended asphalt with superior properties (longer life span).  I don’t know the answer but I could see how this may work, having spent 17 years in oil refining.

6.  Dairy / Cattle farming.  Possible net benefits increasing yield and reducing RX costs, still early stage.

I avoid trying to use biochar to improve agriculture productivity, with regard to nutrient cycling.  Yes biochar will increase soil nitrates.  But, a conventional, or an organic farmer, will get more bang by timing whey the add nutrients through fertigation, rather than waiting for the biochar to help release or create nitrates for feeding the plant. (This is the reason organic farmers get lower yields, because they struggle with the timing of nutrient demand by the plant).  Its also easy to get lured into being excited from biochar farm trials that improve yield, most of the time this benefit comes from the biochar fixing a pH problem, and adding lime is much lower cost way to do this.

I would be interested in learning about other economic applications of biochar, not dependent on carbon credits?

Rick






On Mar 15, 2021, at 10:23 AM, Ian McChesney <ian.mcchesney@...> wrote:

I agree with Nando that we need much better carbon management. Ideally, before we have a real climate crisis to deal with. However, backing biochar to ride home on a biofuel horse could be a risky bet.

Politicians understand money management and know that paying for carbon management is going to be a vote loser, so what policies could appeal : 

Carrot - supply side initiatives based on ‘advanced’ tech to provide a ‘solution’ to this problem eg. biofuels, GTL etc. Looks good, but always needs subsidies in a market with untaxed fossils. 

Stick - tax fossils eg. fuel duty rises. Looks bad. Better to regulate and make industry dish out the pain eg. ban petrol engines. Just before this hurts, relent, and you are the good guy again.

Politicians could be bold and swop income tax for a carbon tax. That would change behaviour overnight, but mostly politicians don’t (really) want to change things. We end up running old coal plants on (US) wood chip over here (and you are making biochar in old boilers over there) as an easy ‘get out of jail free’ option. 

Yes, fossil carbon does need to stay in the ground and yes, we can make a kerosene replacement for planes from spare land, but consumers should pay the full price for this. At the same time we also need innovation and investment to build entirely new and more resilient carbon management systems. 

  

Maybe there is still life in Cap and Trade ? If the current ETS price of $50/ton CO2 had applied 10yrs ago we might have already have a developed a smart, decentralised pyrolysis infrastructure based on micro turbines, biochar etc. 

The benefit of a centralised biofuels + biochar approach is that you can claim reduction as well as removal  Politicians understand this sounds good, but the tech needed to deliver it is tricky and expensive and has so far not delivered.

We should therefore not exclude cheaper ‘burning’ removal only systems.and persuade the politicians to consider backing simpler biochar + products solutions as a way of hedging their bet on biofuel. That’s something they do understand.


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



--
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




--
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



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


John Miedema
 

Thank you Nando- this is excellent information 

J

 


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Nando Breiter <nando@...>
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 8:36 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
Bob,

All substances marketed in the US as a pesticide are regulated by the EPA via the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. There is an exempt list, but wood vinegar is not on it, and I'm told that this list hasn't changed in decades and it would almost certainly be a very expensive and time consuming process, much more so than simply registering.

I assume that wood vinegar would be regarded as a biopesticide, so here's the entry point to the documentation regarding certification: https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides. As long as it is considered a biopesticide, the registration fees are significantly discounted. They are also discounted further for startups, so while John's impression that the costs would amount to millions is correct for chemical pesticides, it does not seem to be the case for WV.

I also note that there are a number of small scale vendors in the US that have flown under the radar so far, and that many of them simply run with the claim that WV is a "fertilizer". The term "growth enhancer" probably should be avoided in the US because "hormonal" growth enhancers in agriculture are also regulated under the EPA.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act is summarized here: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act


Do you have links to Elllen Graber work on WV? She's in Australia if I remember correctly ... ?

n


On Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 3:46 PM Bob Wells <bob@...> wrote:
John, 

    How do you define "the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels" ?

    Are you familiar with the work done on WV by Elllen Graber?

On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 4:14 PM John Miedema <jmiedema@...> wrote:
Bob-  I’m happy to head up the West coast division of Biochar Skunkworks - advanced applied integrated Carbon reductive research and demonstration centers.... 

Albert can manage the Central American branch office..... 

Ever since I first started harvesting and using the pyrolytic acids I knew it was the co-product that that was the potential game changer for biochar and even agriculture. We have been trying to develop funding for the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels.... this has proven difficult to do. 

John
Image.jpeg


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52:20 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
  Nando, 

    We have been producing, testing, using, and selling wood vinegar for over 10 years here in the U.S.  I agree wholeheartedly with your recent post.  By turning all that smoke into very useful products how can it not 1) help the emissions of our biochar equipment, 2) help the economics of the system, 3) provide a powerful and much needed agricultural product, and 4) even enhance the energy take off of the system?
    What is the old saying about trying to fix a problem using the same system that created the problem?  We need to think outside the box (skunk works).  Making a replacement for fossil fuels is challenging.  A "drop in" replacement is very challenging requiring high tech systems and additional chemistry.  Condensing wood gas into wood vinegar and other products is relatively easy by comparison, takes nothing from the biochar process, requires no additional energy, and can be done on any scale of production.  Where is the downside?  The biggest challenge is getting the government out of the way in order to be able to sell it. (Please don't see me as a rebel, I love the government). 
     When you hand a sample of wood vinegar to a chemist they immediately want to break it down into all its component parts.  The problem is that there are between 200 and 300 compounds in wood vinegar.  Isn't it the combination of chemistry that makes this stuff do amazing things, and not just the sum of individual parts?  I don't think that we can expect to be able to take each of those compounds individually, test them out for a given reaction and then add up all those reactions from 200 compounds to see the result.  It's easy for me to say this because I'm not a chemist so I know that I can't do that.  Maybe someone else can.  But what I can do is 1) make sure that I'm not spreading toxins or endangering myself or the environment in some unintended way. 2) research as much information as I can from other informed sources (like chemists) in order to get as much guidance as I can and learn whatever I can from others. 3) do testing and experiments under my own local conditions in order to confirm the effectiveness of the products, and 4) help anyone that I can to reproduce or improve on systems like mine that create wood vinegar while making the best biochar.
    It's taken a long time but the market is growing for wood vinegar.  And I'm convinced, just like for biochar, that if more people understood what it is and what it can do that the market would surge and many would scramble to join in making it and using it.  Once again, I see the education of the public and the government as a big key.
 
 Using wood vinegar we have:

-in some cases doubled the germination rates of seeds
-gotten clear yield increases of 20% in certain crops
-reduced drought damage in field crops
-increased flowering in certain plants by 20%
-driven off moth infestations saving oaks from destruction while simultaneously stimulating the trees to recover.  
-enhanced compost production while reducing odors.

And there are many, many more uses.

    I'm sorry, I don't write science papers, but let me know how I can help.

 To John Miedema:  The skunk works can meet at my house, although zoom might work better.

--
Bob Wells

On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 7:18 PM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:
Rick & Tom,

What we are attempting to do, and we definitely need help in this area, is to develop the commercialization of wood vinegar in the US as both a biological "fertilizer" and a biopesticide (insecticide, bacteriacide, fungicide). All claims of a substance being a pesticide and growth enhancer are regulated by the EPA, and the licensing process is not a trivial matter.

3 points.

1) The value of wood vinegar, if fully realized, can subsidize the co-production of biochar. If its value in the Asian market holds in the western market, (which has yet to be developed, so policy could certainly help here), then the WV produced per tonne of biomass would be about 4 times more valuable than the biochar. Biochar then becomes the co-product that can be sold at a lower price point. To produce the WV, some form of thermally decomposed biomass / biochar has to be produced in a range of 300° C and up. Unlike the co-production of liquid fuels, the co-production of wood vinegar, particularly if done right in a staged process, does not subtract from the amount of carbon retained in the char. There is no compromise in this regard. In fact, carbon is retained in the condensed wood vinegar, which has a very low heating value, rather then being combusted in the flare.

2) Wood vinegar can easily be perceived as an inferior folk remedy compared to chemical pesticides - until you consider why studies in Asia have often demonstrated it to be a superior solution to chemical pesticides. I'm only making a generalized point here - chemical pesticides may be a "better" solution in some cases, (but it depends on how you define "better" I suppose). Plants have evolved a wide array of organic compounds that work synergistically together to defend themselves against fungi, bacteria and insects over some 500 million years. Presumably, it is these organic compounds that are extracted as wood vinegar during the initial stages of thermal decomposition. Plant life has proliferated more than any other terrestrial life form, so somehow, while they are alive, they are very successful at defending themselves. Once they die, the tables suddenly turn, and the bacteria, fungi and insects voraciously consume them. What prevents them from doing that when plants are alive? A working hypothesis is it is the organic compounds that we at least in part extract as wood vinegar.

We may not understand much about how these organic compounds function to protect plants, particularly synergistically, but that does not mean we cannot effectively utilize them.

3) While agricultural producers may find value in increased productivity, a larger concern is often how to keep their productivity from being reduced or decimated by a pathogen. Chemical solutions often exist, but these have 2 main downsides, their environmental toxicity and the fact that a target pathogen often evolves a resistance to them. In certain cases, this can lead to a standoff where the pathogen can no longer be effectively eliminated. Either the solution of last resort is too toxic and has been banned, or the agriculturalist has to learn to live with reduced yields, or it becomes impossible to grow a crop in a given region because there are no known chemical solutions. Examples: red mite in EU poultry farms, a bacterial epidemic Basses Richesses Syndrome spread by cicadas that has wiped out beet farming in France, Switzerland and Germany, a fungal disease called Tropical Race 4 that is destroying banana plantations throughout the world, and a bacterial disease xylella fastidiosa that is wiping out olive trees. There are billions of dollars of losses here, and I'm sure there are examples like these from agriculture in America. Demonstrating that WV can mitigate only one of them could drive the production of very large amounts of biochar.

I can't claim that wood vinegar can immediately solve any case where this is occuring. There is research to undertake, regulatory frameworks to navigate, and economics to nail down,  but I take note of two general facts, and a third that is very specific. One, wood vinegar isn't "toxic". It is approved by the FDA as a meat flavoring under a different term, liquid smoke. And two, bacteria, fungi and insects have not yet managed to evolve resistance to the synergistic functionality of these plant organic compounds - to the point where we see plant life in nature dying off en masse. And three, there are a series of Japanese studies that have conclusively shown that wood vinegar is highly effective against the poultry red mite, and have gone into depth as to why it is highly unlikely that the red mite will be able to evolve resistance to its synergistic effect.

When we congregate a single species in a monoculture, they become more susceptible to being overwhelmed by a pathogen they are vulnerable to. Might a dose of wood vinegar help compensate for this susceptibility, just as vaccines help prime our immune systems to fight off pathogens we have become more susceptible to because our modern lives are so deeply intertwined? There is plentiful Asian research that supports this hypothesis, enough that I think this route is worth pursuing to promote the production and use of biochar.

I know there are multiple, steep challenges here. I'm not claiming WV is a universal biopesticide that can solve any issue. We're simply looking for footholds on a path forward. If we find a way through, then maybe that will clear a path for others to follow, particularly if WV can be an effective solution for a significant agricultural issue.

Commercialization is a lot more steep up close than it appears from a comfortable distance. We definitely could use some help putting some of the pieces of the model I've outlined in place to see if it can work.



CarbonZero
+41 76 303 4477 cell / WhatsApp / Signal (https://signal.org/)


On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 9:07 PM Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Ian, Tom,

A biofuel technology that rejects lots of carbon in the form of biochar could make sense.  Cool Planet would have worked if there was a biochar market. There are long term solutions under development at the National Labs that could address the fuels issue, probably 10 years out however.

I am a big fan of carbon credits. But I would be surprised if they are ever large enough to incentive biochar production.  
The optics of having them could help move products to communities or farms that want to show they are removing carbon, so they pay a premium.

What we need to find are ways to “pay the toll” of producing biochar.  That is an economic/commercial challenge, not a technical one.
Here is my list of potential economic positive plays for biochar, mostly focused on soil .

1.  Co-composting biochar to reduce time to maturity.  This helps where composter is permit capacity restricted, with ample feedstock they could take, moving more material captures tipping fees.

2.  Water savings.  See attached diagram from a recent article from Rice. It takes a lot of biochar to get the 37% savings they claim.  Instead we should use biochar-compost mixes.
Compost as the biochar extender.  Compost water holding capacity is higher than any of the biochar I can get commercially, at least out of the bag.  Biochar stabilizes compost.
Focus on where water costs are high.


3.  Sodic Soil remediation.  This is a super big problem.  In CA there are something like 250,000 acres where they have moved away from high value crops because of salt building.  Adding compost is key here, because it brings CA and MG which push out Sodium, and also potassium which aids in plant water use efficiency.  Biochar adds porosity to facilitate leaching and stabilizes compost. 

4.  Degraded soils - conventional farming. At some point a farmer has to build soil organic matter, having operated the farm like a hydroponics system, destroying carbon. Otherwise chemical costs (fungicides, herbicides) rise and micronutrients get depleted, yields go down, water costs go up.  Compost is the key ingredient.  Biochar stabilizes the compost.

5.  Asphalt blending?  The question is how much more will buyers pay for a biochar amended asphalt with superior properties (longer life span).  I don’t know the answer but I could see how this may work, having spent 17 years in oil refining.

6.  Dairy / Cattle farming.  Possible net benefits increasing yield and reducing RX costs, still early stage.

I avoid trying to use biochar to improve agriculture productivity, with regard to nutrient cycling.  Yes biochar will increase soil nitrates  But, a conventional, or an organic farmer, will get more bang by timing whey the add nutrients through fertigation, rather than waiting for the biochar to help release or create nitrates for feeding the plant. (This is the reason organic farmers get lower yields, because they struggle with the timing of nutrient demand by the plant).  Its also easy to get lured into being excited from biochar farm trials that improve yield, most of the time this benefit comes from the biochar fixing a pH problem, and adding lime is much lower cost way to do this.

I would be interested in learning about other economic applications of biochar, not dependent on carbon credits?

Rick






On Mar 15, 2021, at 10:23 AM, Ian McChesney <ian.mcchesney@...> wrote:

I agree with Nando that we need much better carbon management. Ideally, before we have a real climate crisis to deal with. However, backing biochar to ride home on a biofuel horse could be a risky bet.

Politicians understand money management and know that paying for carbon management is going to be a vote loser, so what policies could appeal : 

Carrot - supply side initiatives based on ‘advanced’ tech to provide a ‘solution’ to this problem eg. biofuels, GTL etc. Looks good, but always needs subsidies in a market with untaxed fossils. 

Stick - tax fossils eg. fuel duty rises. Looks bad. Better to regulate and make industry dish out the pain eg. ban petrol engines. Just before this hurts, relent, and you are the good guy again.

Politicians could be bold and swop income tax for a carbon tax. That would change behaviour overnight, but mostly politicians don’t (really) want to change things. We end up running old coal plants on (US) wood chip over here (and you are making biochar in old boilers over there) as an easy ‘get out of jail free’ option. 

Yes, fossil carbon does need to stay in the ground and yes, we can make a kerosene replacement for planes from spare land, but consumers should pay the full price for this. At the same time we also need innovation and investment to build entirely new and more resilient carbon management systems. 

  

Maybe there is still life in Cap and Trade ? If the current ETS price of $50/ton CO2 had applied 10yrs ago we might have already have a developed a smart, decentralised pyrolysis infrastructure based on micro turbines, biochar etc 

The benefit of a centralised biofuels + biochar approach is that you can claim reduction as well as removal  Politicians understand this sounds good, but the tech needed to deliver it is tricky and expensive and has so far not delivered.

We should therefore not exclude cheaper ‘burning’ removal only systems.and persuade the politicians to consider backing simpler biochar + products solutions as a way of hedging their bet on biofuel. That’s something they do understand.


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



--
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




--
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



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


Bob Wells
 

Ellen works in Israel.


On Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 11:36 AM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:
Bob,

All substances marketed in the US as a pesticide are regulated by the EPA via the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. There is an exempt list, but wood vinegar is not on it, and I'm told that this list hasn't changed in decades and it would almost certainly be a very expensive and time consuming process, much more so than simply registering.

I assume that wood vinegar would be regarded as a biopesticide, so here's the entry point to the documentation regarding certification: https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides. As long as it is considered a biopesticide, the registration fees are significantly discounted. They are also discounted further for startups, so while John's impression that the costs would amount to millions is correct for chemical pesticides, it does not seem to be the case for WV.

I also note that there are a number of small scale vendors in the US that have flown under the radar so far, and that many of them simply run with the claim that WV is a "fertilizer". The term "growth enhancer" probably should be avoided in the US because "hormonal" growth enhancers in agriculture are also regulated under the EPA.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act is summarized here: https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act


Do you have links to Elllen Graber work on WV? She's in Australia if I remember correctly ... ?

n


On Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 3:46 PM Bob Wells <bob@...> wrote:
John, 

    How do you define "the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels" ?

    Are you familiar with the work done on WV by Elllen Graber?

On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 4:14 PM John Miedema <jmiedema@...> wrote:
Bob-  I’m happy to head up the West coast division of Biochar Skunkworks - advanced applied integrated Carbon reductive research and demonstration centers.... 

Albert can manage the Central American branch office..... 

Ever since I first started harvesting and using the pyrolytic acids I knew it was the co-product that that was the potential game changer for biochar and even agriculture. We have been trying to develop funding for the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels.... this has proven difficult to do. 

John
Image.jpeg


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52:20 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
  Nando, 

    We have been producing, testing, using, and selling wood vinegar for over 10 years here in the U.S.  I agree wholeheartedly with your recent post.  By turning all that smoke into very useful products how can it not 1) help the emissions of our biochar equipment, 2) help the economics of the system, 3) provide a powerful and much needed agricultural product, and 4) even enhance the energy take off of the system?
    What is the old saying about trying to fix a problem using the same system that created the problem?  We need to think outside the box (skunk works).  Making a replacement for fossil fuels is challenging.  A "drop in" replacement is very challenging requiring high tech systems and additional chemistry.  Condensing wood gas into wood vinegar and other products is relatively easy by comparison, takes nothing from the biochar process, requires no additional energy, and can be done on any scale of production.  Where is the downside?  The biggest challenge is getting the government out of the way in order to be able to sell it. (Please don't see me as a rebel, I love the government). 
     When you hand a sample of wood vinegar to a chemist they immediately want to break it down into all its component parts.  The problem is that there are between 200 and 300 compounds in wood vinegar.  Isn't it the combination of chemistry that makes this stuff do amazing things, and not just the sum of individual parts?  I don't think that we can expect to be able to take each of those compounds individually, test them out for a given reaction and then add up all those reactions from 200 compounds to see the result.  It's easy for me to say this because I'm not a chemist so I know that I can't do that.  Maybe someone else can.  But what I can do is 1) make sure that I'm not spreading toxins or endangering myself or the environment in some unintended way. 2) research as much information as I can from other informed sources (like chemists) in order to get as much guidance as I can and learn whatever I can from others. 3) do testing and experiments under my own local conditions in order to confirm the effectiveness of the products, and 4) help anyone that I can to reproduce or improve on systems like mine that create wood vinegar while making the best biochar.
    It's taken a long time but the market is growing for wood vinegar.  And I'm convinced, just like for biochar, that if more people understood what it is and what it can do that the market would surge and many would scramble to join in making it and using it.  Once again, I see the education of the public and the government as a big key.
 
 Using wood vinegar we have:

-in some cases doubled the germination rates of seeds
-gotten clear yield increases of 20% in certain crops
-reduced drought damage in field crops
-increased flowering in certain plants by 20%
-driven off moth infestations saving oaks from destruction while simultaneously stimulating the trees to recover.  
-enhanced compost production while reducing odors.

And there are many, many more uses.

    I'm sorry, I don't write science papers, but let me know how I can help.

 To John Miedema:  The skunk works can meet at my house, although zoom might work better.

--
Bob Wells

On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 7:18 PM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:
Rick & Tom,

What we are attempting to do, and we definitely need help in this area, is to develop the commercialization of wood vinegar in the US as both a biological "fertilizer" and a biopesticide (insecticide, bacteriacide, fungicide). All claims of a substance being a pesticide and growth enhancer are regulated by the EPA, and the licensing process is not a trivial matter.

3 points.

1) The value of wood vinegar, if fully realized, can subsidize the co-production of biochar. If its value in the Asian market holds in the western market, (which has yet to be developed, so policy could certainly help here), then the WV produced per tonne of biomass would be about 4 times more valuable than the biochar. Biochar then becomes the co-product that can be sold at a lower price point. To produce the WV, some form of thermally decomposed biomass / biochar has to be produced in a range of 300° C and up. Unlike the co-production of liquid fuels, the co-production of wood vinegar, particularly if done right in a staged process, does not subtract from the amount of carbon retained in the char. There is no compromise in this regard. In fact, carbon is retained in the condensed wood vinegar, which has a very low heating value, rather then being combusted in the flare.

2) Wood vinegar can easily be perceived as an inferior folk remedy compared to chemical pesticides - until you consider why studies in Asia have often demonstrated it to be a superior solution to chemical pesticides. I'm only making a generalized point here - chemical pesticides may be a "better" solution in some cases, (but it depends on how you define "better" I suppose). Plants have evolved a wide array of organic compounds that work synergistically together to defend themselves against fungi, bacteria and insects over some 500 million years. Presumably, it is these organic compounds that are extracted as wood vinegar during the initial stages of thermal decomposition. Plant life has proliferated more than any other terrestrial life form, so somehow, while they are alive, they are very successful at defending themselves. Once they die, the tables suddenly turn, and the bacteria, fungi and insects voraciously consume them. What prevents them from doing that when plants are alive? A working hypothesis is it is the organic compounds that we at least in part extract as wood vinegar.

We may not understand much about how these organic compounds function to protect plants, particularly synergistically, but that does not mean we cannot effectively utilize them.

3) While agricultural producers may find value in increased productivity, a larger concern is often how to keep their productivity from being reduced or decimated by a pathogen. Chemical solutions often exist, but these have 2 main downsides, their environmental toxicity and the fact that a target pathogen often evolves a resistance to them. In certain cases, this can lead to a standoff where the pathogen can no longer be effectively eliminated. Either the solution of last resort is too toxic and has been banned, or the agriculturalist has to learn to live with reduced yields, or it becomes impossible to grow a crop in a given region because there are no known chemical solutions. Examples: red mite in EU poultry farms, a bacterial epidemic Basses Richesses Syndrome spread by cicadas that has wiped out beet farming in France, Switzerland and Germany, a fungal disease called Tropical Race 4 that is destroying banana plantations throughout the world, and a bacterial disease xylella fastidiosa that is wiping out olive trees. There are billions of dollars of losses here, and I'm sure there are examples like these from agriculture in America. Demonstrating that WV can mitigate only one of them could drive the production of very large amounts of biochar.

I can't claim that wood vinegar can immediately solve any case where this is occuring. There is research to undertake, regulatory frameworks to navigate, and economics to nail down,  but I take note of two general facts, and a third that is very specific. One, wood vinegar isn't "toxic". It is approved by the FDA as a meat flavoring under a different term, liquid smoke. And two, bacteria, fungi and insects have not yet managed to evolve resistance to the synergistic functionality of these plant organic compounds - to the point where we see plant life in nature dying off en masse. And three, there are a series of Japanese studies that have conclusively shown that wood vinegar is highly effective against the poultry red mite, and have gone into depth as to why it is highly unlikely that the red mite will be able to evolve resistance to its synergistic effect.

When we congregate a single species in a monoculture, they become more susceptible to being overwhelmed by a pathogen they are vulnerable to. Might a dose of wood vinegar help compensate for this susceptibility, just as vaccines help prime our immune systems to fight off pathogens we have become more susceptible to because our modern lives are so deeply intertwined? There is plentiful Asian research that supports this hypothesis, enough that I think this route is worth pursuing to promote the production and use of biochar.

I know there are multiple, steep challenges here. I'm not claiming WV is a universal biopesticide that can solve any issue. We're simply looking for footholds on a path forward. If we find a way through, then maybe that will clear a path for others to follow, particularly if WV can be an effective solution for a significant agricultural issue.

Commercialization is a lot more steep up close than it appears from a comfortable distance. We definitely could use some help putting some of the pieces of the model I've outlined in place to see if it can work.



CarbonZero
+41 76 303 4477 cell / WhatsApp / Signal (https://signal.org/)


On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 9:07 PM Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Ian, Tom,

A biofuel technology that rejects lots of carbon in the form of biochar could make sense.  Cool Planet would have worked if there was a biochar market. There are long term solutions under development at the National Labs that could address the fuels issue, probably 10 years out however.

I am a big fan of carbon credits. But I would be surprised if they are ever large enough to incentive biochar production.  
The optics of having them could help move products to communities or farms that want to show they are removing carbon, so they pay a premium.

What we need to find are ways to “pay the toll” of producing biochar.  That is an economic/commercial challenge, not a technical one.
Here is my list of potential economic positive plays for biochar, mostly focused on soil .

1.  Co-composting biochar to reduce time to maturity.  This helps where composter is permit capacity restricted, with ample feedstock they could take, moving more material captures tipping fees.

2.  Water savings.  See attached diagram from a recent article from Rice. It takes a lot of biochar to get the 37% savings they claim.  Instead we should use biochar-compost mixes.
Compost as the biochar extender.  Compost water holding capacity is higher than any of the biochar I can get commercially, at least out of the bag.  Biochar stabilizes compost.
Focus on where water costs are high.


3.  Sodic Soil remediation.  This is a super big problem.  In CA there are something like 250,000 acres where they have moved away from high value crops because of salt building.  Adding compost is key here, because it brings CA and MG which push out Sodium, and also potassium which aids in plant water use efficiency.  Biochar adds porosity to facilitate leaching and stabilizes compost. 

4.  Degraded soils - conventional farming. At some point a farmer has to build soil organic matter, having operated the farm like a hydroponics system, destroying carbon. Otherwise chemical costs (fungicides, herbicides) rise and micronutrients get depleted, yields go down, water costs go up.  Compost is the key ingredient.  Biochar stabilizes the compost.

5.  Asphalt blending?  The question is how much more will buyers pay for a biochar amended asphalt with superior properties (longer life span).  I don’t know the answer but I could see how this may work, having spent 17 years in oil refining.

6.  Dairy / Cattle farming.  Possible net benefits increasing yield and reducing RX costs, still early stage.

I avoid trying to use biochar to improve agriculture productivity, with regard to nutrient cycling.  Yes biochar will increase soil nitrates.  But, a conventional, or an organic farmer, will get more bang by timing whey the add nutrients through fertigation, rather than waiting for the biochar to help release or create nitrates for feeding the plant. (This is the reason organic farmers get lower yields, because they struggle with the timing of nutrient demand by the plant).  Its also easy to get lured into being excited from biochar farm trials that improve yield, most of the time this benefit comes from the biochar fixing a pH problem, and adding lime is much lower cost way to do this.

I would be interested in learning about other economic applications of biochar, not dependent on carbon credits?

Rick






On Mar 15, 2021, at 10:23 AM, Ian McChesney <ian.mcchesney@...> wrote:

I agree with Nando that we need much better carbon management. Ideally, before we have a real climate crisis to deal with. However, backing biochar to ride home on a biofuel horse could be a risky bet.

Politicians understand money management and know that paying for carbon management is going to be a vote loser, so what policies could appeal : 

Carrot - supply side initiatives based on ‘advanced’ tech to provide a ‘solution’ to this problem eg. biofuels, GTL etc. Looks good, but always needs subsidies in a market with untaxed fossils. 

Stick - tax fossils eg. fuel duty rises. Looks bad. Better to regulate and make industry dish out the pain eg. ban petrol engines. Just before this hurts, relent, and you are the good guy again.

Politicians could be bold and swop income tax for a carbon tax. That would change behaviour overnight, but mostly politicians don’t (really) want to change things. We end up running old coal plants on (US) wood chip over here (and you are making biochar in old boilers over there) as an easy ‘get out of jail free’ option. 

Yes, fossil carbon does need to stay in the ground and yes, we can make a kerosene replacement for planes from spare land, but consumers should pay the full price for this. At the same time we also need innovation and investment to build entirely new and more resilient carbon management systems. 

  

Maybe there is still life in Cap and Trade ? If the current ETS price of $50/ton CO2 had applied 10yrs ago we might have already have a developed a smart, decentralised pyrolysis infrastructure based on micro turbines, biochar etc. 

The benefit of a centralised biofuels + biochar approach is that you can claim reduction as well as removal  Politicians understand this sounds good, but the tech needed to deliver it is tricky and expensive and has so far not delivered.

We should therefore not exclude cheaper ‘burning’ removal only systems.and persuade the politicians to consider backing simpler biochar + products solutions as a way of hedging their bet on biofuel. That’s something they do understand.


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



--
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




--
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



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



--
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



Stephen Joseph
 

Hi Bob

I dont think she has published it yet but I could be wrong.

Regards
Stephen

On Thu, Mar 18, 2021 at 2:29 AM John Miedema <jmiedema@...> wrote:
Hello Bob - busy day here so I’ll have to keep it short for now. 
Essentially any claims using the terms “fungicide” or “pesticide” will take several years and likely millions of dollars to be able to put on a label in the USA. Yes pyroligneous acid (PA) as “wood smoke” flavoring  is considered GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA. But I think anyone selling their PA from  biochar production should have toxicology studies done on their PA prior to selling it for use. Without knowing what you are doing there is significant potential for unintended consequences from this derivative of the destructive distillation of biomass - PAHs, Benzene, toluene, furans... 

I do know of Dr Graber’s work and I’m a big fan. 

Let’s catch up soon Bob - it’s been way too long

J


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 7:46:00 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
John, 

    How do you define "the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels" ?

    Are you familiar with the work done on WV by Elllen Graber?

On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 4:14 PM John Miedema <jmiedema@...> wrote:
Bob-  I’m happy to head up the West coast division of Biochar Skunkworks - advanced applied integrated Carbon reductive research and demonstration centers.... 

Albert can manage the Central American branch office..... 

Ever since I first started harvesting and using the pyrolytic acids I knew it was the co-product that that was the potential game changer for biochar and even agriculture. We have been trying to develop funding for the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels.... this has proven difficult to do. 

John
Image.jpeg


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52:20 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
  Nando, 

    We have been producing, testing, using, and selling wood vinegar for over 10 years here in the U.S.  I agree wholeheartedly with your recent post.  By turning all that smoke into very useful products how can it not 1) help the emissions of our biochar equipment, 2) help the economics of the system, 3) provide a powerful and much needed agricultural product, and 4) even enhance the energy take off of the system?
    What is the old saying about trying to fix a problem using the same system that created the problem?  We need to think outside the box (skunk works).  Making a replacement for fossil fuels is challenging.  A "drop in" replacement is very challenging requiring high tech systems and additional chemistry.  Condensing wood gas into wood vinegar and other products is relatively easy by comparison, takes nothing from the biochar process, requires no additional energy, and can be done on any scale of production.  Where is the downside?  The biggest challenge is getting the government out of the way in order to be able to sell it. (Please don't see me as a rebel, I love the government). 
     When you hand a sample of wood vinegar to a chemist they immediately want to break it down into all its component parts.  The problem is that there are between 200 and 300 compounds in wood vinegar.  Isn't it the combination of chemistry that makes this stuff do amazing things, and not just the sum of individual parts?  I don't think that we can expect to be able to take each of those compounds individually, test them out for a given reaction and then add up all those reactions from 200 compounds to see the result.  It's easy for me to say this because I'm not a chemist so I know that I can't do that.  Maybe someone else can.  But what I can do is 1) make sure that I'm not spreading toxins or endangering myself or the environment in some unintended way. 2) research as much information as I can from other informed sources (like chemists) in order to get as much guidance as I can and learn whatever I can from others. 3) do testing and experiments under my own local conditions in order to confirm the effectiveness of the products, and 4) help anyone that I can to reproduce or improve on systems like mine that create wood vinegar while making the best biochar.
    It's taken a long time but the market is growing for wood vinegar.  And I'm convinced, just like for biochar, that if more people understood what it is and what it can do that the market would surge and many would scramble to join in making it and using it.  Once again, I see the education of the public and the government as a big key.
 
 Using wood vinegar we have:

-in some cases doubled the germination rates of seeds
-gotten clear yield increases of 20% in certain crops
-reduced drought damage in field crops
-increased flowering in certain plants by 20%
-driven off moth infestations saving oaks from destruction while simultaneously stimulating the trees to recover.  
-enhanced compost production while reducing odors.

And there are many, many more uses.

    I'm sorry, I don't write science papers, but let me know how I can help.

 To John Miedema:  The skunk works can meet at my house, although zoom might work better.

--
Bob Wells

On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 7:18 PM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:
Rick & Tom,

What we are attempting to do, and we definitely need help in this area, is to develop the commercialization of wood vinegar in the US as both a biological "fertilizer" and a biopesticide (insecticide, bacteriacide, fungicide). All claims of a substance being a pesticide and growth enhancer are regulated by the EPA, and the licensing process is not a trivial matter.

3 points.

1) The value of wood vinegar, if fully realized, can subsidize the co-production of biochar. If its value in the Asian market holds in the western market, (which has yet to be developed, so policy could certainly help here), then the WV produced per tonne of biomass would be about 4 times more valuable than the biochar. Biochar then becomes the co-product that can be sold at a lower price point. To produce the WV, some form of thermally decomposed biomass / biochar has to be produced in a range of 300° C and up. Unlike the co-production of liquid fuels, the co-production of wood vinegar, particularly if done right in a staged process, does not subtract from the amount of carbon retained in the char. There is no compromise in this regard. In fact, carbon is retained in the condensed wood vinegar, which has a very low heating value, rather then being combusted in the flare.

2) Wood vinegar can easily be perceived as an inferior folk remedy compared to chemical pesticides - until you consider why studies in Asia have often demonstrated it to be a superior solution to chemical pesticides. I'm only making a generalized point here - chemical pesticides may be a "better" solution in some cases, (but it depends on how you define "better" I suppose). Plants have evolved a wide array of organic compounds that work synergistically together to defend themselves against fungi, bacteria and insects over some 500 million years. Presumably, it is these organic compounds that are extracted as wood vinegar during the initial stages of thermal decomposition. Plant life has proliferated more than any other terrestrial life form, so somehow, while they are alive, they are very successful at defending themselves. Once they die, the tables suddenly turn, and the bacteria, fungi and insects voraciously consume them. What prevents them from doing that when plants are alive? A working hypothesis is it is the organic compounds that we at least in part extract as wood vinegar.

We may not understand much about how these organic compounds function to protect plants, particularly synergistically, but that does not mean we cannot effectively utilize them.

3) While agricultural producers may find value in increased productivity, a larger concern is often how to keep their productivity from being reduced or decimated by a pathogen. Chemical solutions often exist, but these have 2 main downsides, their environmental toxicity and the fact that a target pathogen often evolves a resistance to them. In certain cases, this can lead to a standoff where the pathogen can no longer be effectively eliminated. Either the solution of last resort is too toxic and has been banned, or the agriculturalist has to learn to live with reduced yields, or it becomes impossible to grow a crop in a given region because there are no known chemical solutions. Examples: red mite in EU poultry farms, a bacterial epidemic Basses Richesses Syndrome spread by cicadas that has wiped out beet farming in France, Switzerland and Germany, a fungal disease called Tropical Race 4 that is destroying banana plantations throughout the world, and a bacterial disease xylella fastidiosa that is wiping out olive trees. There are billions of dollars of losses here, and I'm sure there are examples like these from agriculture in America. Demonstrating that WV can mitigate only one of them could drive the production of very large amounts of biochar.

I can't claim that wood vinegar can immediately solve any case where this is occuring. There is research to undertake, regulatory frameworks to navigate, and economics to nail down,  but I take note of two general facts, and a third that is very specific. One, wood vinegar isn't "toxic". It is approved by the FDA as a meat flavoring under a different term, liquid smoke. And two, bacteria, fungi and insects have not yet managed to evolve resistance to the synergistic functionality of these plant organic compounds - to the point where we see plant life in nature dying off en masse. And three, there are a series of Japanese studies that have conclusively shown that wood vinegar is highly effective against the poultry red mite, and have gone into depth as to why it is highly unlikely that the red mite will be able to evolve resistance to its synergistic effect.

When we congregate a single species in a monoculture, they become more susceptible to being overwhelmed by a pathogen they are vulnerable to. Might a dose of wood vinegar help compensate for this susceptibility, just as vaccines help prime our immune systems to fight off pathogens we have become more susceptible to because our modern lives are so deeply intertwined? There is plentiful Asian research that supports this hypothesis, enough that I think this route is worth pursuing to promote the production and use of biochar.

I know there are multiple, steep challenges here. I'm not claiming WV is a universal biopesticide that can solve any issue. We're simply looking for footholds on a path forward. If we find a way through, then maybe that will clear a path for others to follow, particularly if WV can be an effective solution for a significant agricultural issue.

Commercialization is a lot more steep up close than it appears from a comfortable distance. We definitely could use some help putting some of the pieces of the model I've outlined in place to see if it can work.



CarbonZero
+41 76 303 4477 cell / WhatsApp / Signal (https://signal.org/)


On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 9:07 PM Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Ian, Tom,

A biofuel technology that rejects lots of carbon in the form of biochar could make sense.  Cool Planet would have worked if there was a biochar market. There are long term solutions under development at the National Labs that could address the fuels issue, probably 10 years out however.

I am a big fan of carbon credits. But I would be surprised if they are ever large enough to incentive biochar production.  
The optics of having them could help move products to communities or farms that want to show they are removing carbon, so they pay a premium.

What we need to find are ways to “pay the toll” of producing biochar.  That is an economic/commercial challenge, not a technical one.
Here is my list of potential economic positive plays for biochar, mostly focused on soil .

1.  Co-composting biochar to reduce time to maturity.  This helps where composter is permit capacity restricted, with ample feedstock they could take, moving more material captures tipping fees.

2.  Water savings.  See attached diagram from a recent article from Rice. It takes a lot of biochar to get the 37% savings they claim.  Instead we should use biochar-compost mixes.
Compost as the biochar extender.  Compost water holding capacity is higher than any of the biochar I can get commercially, at least out of the bag.  Biochar stabilizes compost.
Focus on where water costs are high.


3.  Sodic Soil remediation.  This is a super big problem.  In CA there are something like 250,000 acres where they have moved away from high value crops because of salt building.  Adding compost is key here, because it brings CA and MG which push out Sodium, and also potassium which aids in plant water use efficiency.  Biochar adds porosity to facilitate leaching and stabilizes compost. 

4.  Degraded soils - conventional farming. At some point a farmer has to build soil organic matter, having operated the farm like a hydroponics system, destroying carbon. Otherwise chemical costs (fungicides, herbicides) rise and micronutrients get depleted, yields go down, water costs go up.  Compost is the key ingredient.  Biochar stabilizes the compost.

5.  Asphalt blending?  The question is how much more will buyers pay for a biochar amended asphalt with superior properties (longer life span).  I don’t know the answer but I could see how this may work, having spent 17 years in oil refining.

6.  Dairy / Cattle farming.  Possible net benefits increasing yield and reducing RX costs, still early stage.

I avoid trying to use biochar to improve agriculture productivity, with regard to nutrient cycling.  Yes biochar will increase soil nitrates.  But, a conventional, or an organic farmer, will get more bang by timing whey the add nutrients through fertigation, rather than waiting for the biochar to help release or create nitrates for feeding the plant. (This is the reason organic farmers get lower yields, because they struggle with the timing of nutrient demand by the plant).  Its also easy to get lured into being excited from biochar farm trials that improve yield, most of the time this benefit comes from the biochar fixing a pH problem, and adding lime is much lower cost way to do this.

I would be interested in learning about other economic applications of biochar, not dependent on carbon credits?

Rick






On Mar 15, 2021, at 10:23 AM, Ian McChesney <ian.mcchesney@...> wrote:

I agree with Nando that we need much better carbon management. Ideally, before we have a real climate crisis to deal with. However, backing biochar to ride home on a biofuel horse could be a risky bet.

Politicians understand money management and know that paying for carbon management is going to be a vote loser, so what policies could appeal : 

Carrot - supply side initiatives based on ‘advanced’ tech to provide a ‘solution’ to this problem eg. biofuels, GTL etc. Looks good, but always needs subsidies in a market with untaxed fossils. 

Stick - tax fossils eg. fuel duty rises. Looks bad. Better to regulate and make industry dish out the pain eg. ban petrol engines. Just before this hurts, relent, and you are the good guy again.

Politicians could be bold and swop income tax for a carbon tax. That would change behaviour overnight, but mostly politicians don’t (really) want to change things. We end up running old coal plants on (US) wood chip over here (and you are making biochar in old boilers over there) as an easy ‘get out of jail free’ option. 

Yes, fossil carbon does need to stay in the ground and yes, we can make a kerosene replacement for planes from spare land, but consumers should pay the full price for this. At the same time we also need innovation and investment to build entirely new and more resilient carbon management systems. 

  

Maybe there is still life in Cap and Trade ? If the current ETS price of $50/ton CO2 had applied 10yrs ago we might have already have a developed a smart, decentralised pyrolysis infrastructure based on micro turbines, biochar etc. 

The benefit of a centralised biofuels + biochar approach is that you can claim reduction as well as removal  Politicians understand this sounds good, but the tech needed to deliver it is tricky and expensive and has so far not delivered.

We should therefore not exclude cheaper ‘burning’ removal only systems.and persuade the politicians to consider backing simpler biochar + products solutions as a way of hedging their bet on biofuel. That’s something they do understand.


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



--
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




--
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



Kim Chaffee
 

From what I gather from Nando’s posts, getting WV registered for use as a pesticide in the US would require outside funding for research and EPA registration management.

 Environmental foundations could become key allies in this quest.  They have both the money and the interest in replacing chemical pesticides with ‘natural’ ones (bio pesticides).  We should keep that in mind when approaching foundations for biochar funding.

I also wonder whether US based biochar producers could sell WV thru trading partners into developing countries in Central and South America, where there may not be restrictions on it.  

Kim


On Mar 17, 2021, at 11:29 AM, John Miedema <jmiedema@...> wrote:


Hello Bob - busy day here so I’ll have to keep it short for now. 
Essentially any claims using the terms “fungicide” or “pesticide” will take several years and likely millions of dollars to be able to put on a label in the USA. Yes pyroligneous acid (PA) as “wood smoke” flavoring  is considered GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA. But I think anyone selling their PA from  biochar production should have toxicology studies done on their PA prior to selling it for use. Without knowing what you are doing there is significant potential for unintended consequences from this derivative of the destructive distillation of biomass - PAHs, Benzene, toluene, furans... 

I do know of Dr Graber’s work and I’m a big fan. 

Let’s catch up soon Bob - it’s been way too long

J


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 7:46:00 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
John, 

    How do you define "the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels" ?

    Are you familiar with the work done on WV by Elllen Graber?

On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 4:14 PM John Miedema <jmiedema@...> wrote:
Bob-  I’m happy to head up the West coast division of Biochar Skunkworks - advanced applied integrated Carbon reductive research and demonstration centers.... 

Albert can manage the Central American branch office..... 

Ever since I first started harvesting and using the pyrolytic acids I knew it was the co-product that that was the potential game changer for biochar and even agriculture. We have been trying to develop funding for the required research to bring the product to market through the USDA channels.... this has proven difficult to do. 

John
<Image.jpeg>


From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> on behalf of Bob Wells <bob@...>
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52:20 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io <main@biochar.groups.io>
Subject: [ADV] Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels
 
  Nando, 

    We have been producing, testing, using, and selling wood vinegar for over 10 years here in the U.S.  I agree wholeheartedly with your recent post.  By turning all that smoke into very useful products how can it not 1) help the emissions of our biochar equipment, 2) help the economics of the system, 3) provide a powerful and much needed agricultural product, and 4) even enhance the energy take off of the system?
    What is the old saying about trying to fix a problem using the same system that created the problem?  We need to think outside the box (skunk works).  Making a replacement for fossil fuels is challenging.  A "drop in" replacement is very challenging requiring high tech systems and additional chemistry.  Condensing wood gas into wood vinegar and other products is relatively easy by comparison, takes nothing from the biochar process, requires no additional energy, and can be done on any scale of production.  Where is the downside?  The biggest challenge is getting the government out of the way in order to be able to sell it. (Please don't see me as a rebel, I love the government). 
     When you hand a sample of wood vinegar to a chemist they immediately want to break it down into all its component parts.  The problem is that there are between 200 and 300 compounds in wood vinegar.  Isn't it the combination of chemistry that makes this stuff do amazing things, and not just the sum of individual parts?  I don't think that we can expect to be able to take each of those compounds individually, test them out for a given reaction and then add up all those reactions from 200 compounds to see the result.  It's easy for me to say this because I'm not a chemist so I know that I can't do that.  Maybe someone else can.  But what I can do is 1) make sure that I'm not spreading toxins or endangering myself or the environment in some unintended way. 2) research as much information as I can from other informed sources (like chemists) in order to get as much guidance as I can and learn whatever I can from others. 3) do testing and experiments under my own local conditions in order to confirm the effectiveness of the products, and 4) help anyone that I can to reproduce or improve on systems like mine that create wood vinegar while making the best biochar.
    It's taken a long time but the market is growing for wood vinegar.  And I'm convinced, just like for biochar, that if more people understood what it is and what it can do that the market would surge and many would scramble to join in making it and using it.  Once again, I see the education of the public and the government as a big key.
 
 Using wood vinegar we have:

-in some cases doubled the germination rates of seeds
-gotten clear yield increases of 20% in certain crops
-reduced drought damage in field crops
-increased flowering in certain plants by 20%
-driven off moth infestations saving oaks from destruction while simultaneously stimulating the trees to recover.  
-enhanced compost production while reducing odors.

And there are many, many more uses.

    I'm sorry, I don't write science papers, but let me know how I can help.

 To John Miedema:  The skunk works can meet at my house, although zoom might work better.

--
Bob Wells

On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 7:18 PM Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:
Rick & Tom,

What we are attempting to do, and we definitely need help in this area, is to develop the commercialization of wood vinegar in the US as both a biological "fertilizer" and a biopesticide (insecticide, bacteriacide, fungicide). All claims of a substance being a pesticide and growth enhancer are regulated by the EPA, and the licensing process is not a trivial matter.

3 points.

1) The value of wood vinegar, if fully realized, can subsidize the co-production of biochar. If its value in the Asian market holds in the western market, (which has yet to be developed, so policy could certainly help here), then the WV produced per tonne of biomass would be about 4 times more valuable than the biochar. Biochar then becomes the co-product that can be sold at a lower price point. To produce the WV, some form of thermally decomposed biomass / biochar has to be produced in a range of 300° C and up. Unlike the co-production of liquid fuels, the co-production of wood vinegar, particularly if done right in a staged process, does not subtract from the amount of carbon retained in the char. There is no compromise in this regard. In fact, carbon is retained in the condensed wood vinegar, which has a very low heating value, rather then being combusted in the flare.

2) Wood vinegar can easily be perceived as an inferior folk remedy compared to chemical pesticides - until you consider why studies in Asia have often demonstrated it to be a superior solution to chemical pesticides. I'm only making a generalized point here - chemical pesticides may be a "better" solution in some cases, (but it depends on how you define "better" I suppose). Plants have evolved a wide array of organic compounds that work synergistically together to defend themselves against fungi, bacteria and insects over some 500 million years. Presumably, it is these organic compounds that are extracted as wood vinegar during the initial stages of thermal decomposition. Plant life has proliferated more than any other terrestrial life form, so somehow, while they are alive, they are very successful at defending themselves. Once they die, the tables suddenly turn, and the bacteria, fungi and insects voraciously consume them. What prevents them from doing that when plants are alive? A working hypothesis is it is the organic compounds that we at least in part extract as wood vinegar.

We may not understand much about how these organic compounds function to protect plants, particularly synergistically, but that does not mean we cannot effectively utilize them.

3) While agricultural producers may find value in increased productivity, a larger concern is often how to keep their productivity from being reduced or decimated by a pathogen. Chemical solutions often exist, but these have 2 main downsides, their environmental toxicity and the fact that a target pathogen often evolves a resistance to them. In certain cases, this can lead to a standoff where the pathogen can no longer be effectively eliminated. Either the solution of last resort is too toxic and has been banned, or the agriculturalist has to learn to live with reduced yields, or it becomes impossible to grow a crop in a given region because there are no known chemical solutions. Examples: red mite in EU poultry farms, a bacterial epidemic Basses Richesses Syndrome spread by cicadas that has wiped out beet farming in France, Switzerland and Germany, a fungal disease called Tropical Race 4 that is destroying banana plantations throughout the world, and a bacterial disease xylella fastidiosa that is wiping out olive trees. There are billions of dollars of losses here, and I'm sure there are examples like these from agriculture in America. Demonstrating that WV can mitigate only one of them could drive the production of very large amounts of biochar.

I can't claim that wood vinegar can immediately solve any case where this is occuring. There is research to undertake, regulatory frameworks to navigate, and economics to nail down,  but I take note of two general facts, and a third that is very specific. One, wood vinegar isn't "toxic". It is approved by the FDA as a meat flavoring under a different term, liquid smoke. And two, bacteria, fungi and insects have not yet managed to evolve resistance to the synergistic functionality of these plant organic compounds - to the point where we see plant life in nature dying off en masse. And three, there are a series of Japanese studies that have conclusively shown that wood vinegar is highly effective against the poultry red mite, and have gone into depth as to why it is highly unlikely that the red mite will be able to evolve resistance to its synergistic effect.

When we congregate a single species in a monoculture, they become more susceptible to being overwhelmed by a pathogen they are vulnerable to. Might a dose of wood vinegar help compensate for this susceptibility, just as vaccines help prime our immune systems to fight off pathogens we have become more susceptible to because our modern lives are so deeply intertwined? There is plentiful Asian research that supports this hypothesis, enough that I think this route is worth pursuing to promote the production and use of biochar.

I know there are multiple, steep challenges here. I'm not claiming WV is a universal biopesticide that can solve any issue. We're simply looking for footholds on a path forward. If we find a way through, then maybe that will clear a path for others to follow, particularly if WV can be an effective solution for a significant agricultural issue.

Commercialization is a lot more steep up close than it appears from a comfortable distance. We definitely could use some help putting some of the pieces of the model I've outlined in place to see if it can work.



CarbonZero
+41 76 303 4477 cell / WhatsApp / Signal (https://signal.org/)


On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 9:07 PM Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Ian, Tom,

A biofuel technology that rejects lots of carbon in the form of biochar could make sense.  Cool Planet would have worked if there was a biochar market. There are long term solutions under development at the National Labs that could address the fuels issue, probably 10 years out however.

I am a big fan of carbon credits. But I would be surprised if they are ever large enough to incentive biochar production.  
The optics of having them could help move products to communities or farms that want to show they are removing carbon, so they pay a premium.

What we need to find are ways to “pay the toll” of producing biochar.  That is an economic/commercial challenge, not a technical one.
Here is my list of potential economic positive plays for biochar, mostly focused on soil .

1.  Co-composting biochar to reduce time to maturity.  This helps where composter is permit capacity restricted, with ample feedstock they could take, moving more material captures tipping fees.

2.  Water savings.  See attached diagram from a recent article from Rice. It takes a lot of biochar to get the 37% savings they claim.  Instead we should use biochar-compost mixes.
Compost as the biochar extender.  Compost water holding capacity is higher than any of the biochar I can get commercially, at least out of the bag.  Biochar stabilizes compost.
Focus on where water costs are high.

<gcbb12765-fig-0004-m.jpg>

3.  Sodic Soil remediation.  This is a super big problem.  In CA there are something like 250,000 acres where they have moved away from high value crops because of salt building.  Adding compost is key here, because it brings CA and MG which push out Sodium, and also potassium which aids in plant water use efficiency.  Biochar adds porosity to facilitate leaching and stabilizes compost. 

4.  Degraded soils - conventional farming. At some point a farmer has to build soil organic matter, having operated the farm like a hydroponics system, destroying carbon. Otherwise chemical costs (fungicides, herbicides) rise and micronutrients get depleted, yields go down, water costs go up.  Compost is the key ingredient.  Biochar stabilizes the compost.

5.  Asphalt blending?  The question is how much more will buyers pay for a biochar amended asphalt with superior properties (longer life span).  I don’t know the answer but I could see how this may work, having spent 17 years in oil refining.

6.  Dairy / Cattle farming.  Possible net benefits increasing yield and reducing RX costs, still early stage.

I avoid trying to use biochar to improve agriculture productivity, with regard to nutrient cycling.  Yes biochar will increase soil nitrates.  But, a conventional, or an organic farmer, will get more bang by timing whey the add nutrients through fertigation, rather than waiting for the biochar to help release or create nitrates for feeding the plant. (This is the reason organic farmers get lower yields, because they struggle with the timing of nutrient demand by the plant).  Its also easy to get lured into being excited from biochar farm trials that improve yield, most of the time this benefit comes from the biochar fixing a pH problem, and adding lime is much lower cost way to do this.

I would be interested in learning about other economic applications of biochar, not dependent on carbon credits?

Rick






On Mar 15, 2021, at 10:23 AM, Ian McChesney <ian.mcchesney@...> wrote:

I agree with Nando that we need much better carbon management. Ideally, before we have a real climate crisis to deal with. However, backing biochar to ride home on a biofuel horse could be a risky bet.

Politicians understand money management and know that paying for carbon management is going to be a vote loser, so what policies could appeal : 

Carrot - supply side initiatives based on ‘advanced’ tech to provide a ‘solution’ to this problem eg. biofuels, GTL etc. Looks good, but always needs subsidies in a market with untaxed fossils. 

Stick - tax fossils eg. fuel duty rises. Looks bad. Better to regulate and make industry dish out the pain eg. ban petrol engines. Just before this hurts, relent, and you are the good guy again.

Politicians could be bold and swop income tax for a carbon tax. That would change behaviour overnight, but mostly politicians don’t (really) want to change things. We end up running old coal plants on (US) wood chip over here (and you are making biochar in old boilers over there) as an easy ‘get out of jail free’ option. 

Yes, fossil carbon does need to stay in the ground and yes, we can make a kerosene replacement for planes from spare land, but consumers should pay the full price for this. At the same time we also need innovation and investment to build entirely new and more resilient carbon management systems. 

  

Maybe there is still life in Cap and Trade ? If the current ETS price of $50/ton CO2 had applied 10yrs ago we might have already have a developed a smart, decentralised pyrolysis infrastructure based on micro turbines, biochar etc. 

The benefit of a centralised biofuels + biochar approach is that you can claim reduction as well as removal  Politicians understand this sounds good, but the tech needed to deliver it is tricky and expensive and has so far not delivered.

We should therefore not exclude cheaper ‘burning’ removal only systems.and persuade the politicians to consider backing simpler biochar + products solutions as a way of hedging their bet on biofuel. That’s something they do understand.


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



--
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




--
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



mikethewormguy
 

Kim,

It would make better economic and environmental sense to make the biomass char along with its pyroligneous acid outcome in country.

In regard to spending money to register PA, as a pesticide, with USEPA,  would be a fool's errand, in my humble opinion.  I am offering my opinion, as a formulator and seller, of USDA NOP compliant USEPA 25b Minimum Risk Pesticides.

Having said the above, based on our experience and others, biomass PA does have a place, as a partial solution, to mitigate pests.

my 2 cents,

Mike





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