Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels


Tom Miles
 

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.Text, letter

Description automatically generated

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

USBI Logo - Copy (420x176) 

 

 


Nando Breiter
 

I have a question. Why the emphasis on liquid biofuels in this document? Has there been some innovation since Dynamotive went bankrupt pursuing a very well financed effort to develop and commercialize liquid biofuels via pyrolysis?

I suppose my concern is that if we keep trying to spice up a pitch for biochar carbon sequestration with a we can have our cake and eat it too promise of liquid biofuels, then we may undermine our effort.

There are only so many carbon atoms in a given unit of biomass. If a thermal decomposition process emphasizes the production of flammable oils, most likely with energy intensive fast pyrolysis or high pressure pyrolysis, between the minor amount of char left as a byproduct and the carbon emissions that the entire production process create, a policy emphasis on such a process to replace fossil oil would simply accelerate the decomposition of available biomass to CO2.

I believe that Cool Planet also tried to follow this liquid biofuel path, again with very well financed effort. What happened to them?

While an argument could be made that liquid biofuels are "better" than fossil fuels, our current situation demands a focus on the sequestration of carbon - that biochar is uniquely able to provide. I understand the compromise from years past - maybe if we can get investment from fossil fuel interests looking to transition to biofuels, we'd finally have sufficient funds to make a substantial impact. But should this compromise continue to form a central pillar of our policy proposals, particularly with the Biden administration? Particularly when Dynamotive (and Cool Planet) spent many millions of dollars proving it was not financially viable unless and until oil shortages took hold? Dynamotive had only 2 prototype plants, and as I read, they were already concerned about potential shortages of affordable waste biomass streams. Where does this idea of liquid biofuels from pyrolysis lead in the medium to long term? Shortages of biomass driving up prices, the conversion of arable land from growing food to growing biomass for liquid biofuels?

Good policy should look ahead.

As a policy matter, I think the focus of biochar proponents should be squarely on the sequestration of carbon from available biomass waste streams, particularly now. I would assume that there are people in the Biden administration that are smart enough to recognize that there is something suspicious about a claim that a process using biomass can provide both burnable hydrocarbons and still sequester  carbon. Such a claim certainly sounds like greenwashing.

Am I missing something?






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


On Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 1:26 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.Text, letter

Description automatically generated

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

USBI Logo - Copy (420x176) 

 

 


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


Geoff Thomas
 

Hi Nando, some years ago some people in conservation groups used to argue that biochar was just as bad as a bushfire, because they couldn't get past the Burning, side of it, indeed Pyrolysis is not a common word outside the biochar sphere.
For the same reason, they couldn’t accept adding waste wood to a coal fired electrical generation plant, nor did they approve of wood burning stoves.
In both cases they were missing the fact that the burning of wood kept the coal in the ground, and digging up and burning the coal is a major problem.

So with Bioliquids that displace part or all of the petrol that would otherwise be burnt, whether there is a charcoal remnant or not, their biggest contribution is to keep the oil in the ground.

As electric cars become widely used, oil is kept in the ground also, - as long as their electric power comes from Renewables.
The big thing with Biochar  is the clawing back the carbon dioxide the petrol/coal put there in the first place, - that is not emissions reducing, but emissions reburying. 
Because of the commercial narrative and media resistance against acknowledging carbon dioxide’s part in the greenhouse effect, many in the Biochar sphere have been focussing on the soil benefits of Biochar, - particularly in America.
There is still a huge part needing to be played by emissions reduction, and carbon dioxide draw down, both are essential, and with the return to the atmosphere of app. 100 billion tons of carbon annually, there is feedstock for all. - 

Cheers,  Geof Thomas.

On 15 Mar 2021, at 6:32 am, Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:

I have a question. Why the emphasis on liquid biofuels in this document? Has there been some innovation since Dynamotive went bankrupt pursuing a very well financed effort to develop and commercialize liquid biofuels via pyrolysis? 

I suppose my concern is that if we keep trying to spice up a pitch for biochar carbon sequestration with a we can have our cake and eat it too promise of liquid biofuels, then we may undermine our effort. 

There are only so many carbon atoms in a given unit of biomass. If a thermal decomposition process emphasizes the production of flammable oils, most likely with energy intensive fast pyrolysis or high pressure pyrolysis, between the minor amount of char left as a byproduct and the carbon emissions that the entire production process create, a policy emphasis on such a process to replace fossil oil would simply accelerate the decomposition of available biomass to CO2. 

I believe that Cool Planet also tried to follow this liquid biofuel path, again with very well financed effort. What happened to them?

While an argument could be made that liquid biofuels are "better" than fossil fuels, our current situation demands a focus on the sequestration of carbon - that biochar is uniquely able to provide. I understand the compromise from years past - maybe if we can get investment from fossil fuel interests looking to transition to biofuels, we'd finally have sufficient funds to make a substantial impact. But should this compromise continue to form a central pillar of our policy proposals, particularly with the Biden administration? Particularly when Dynamotive (and Cool Planet) spent many millions of dollars proving it was not financially viable unless and until oil shortages took hold? Dynamotive had only 2 prototype plants, and as I read, they were already concerned about potential shortages of affordable waste biomass streams. Where does this idea of liquid biofuels from pyrolysis lead in the medium to long term? Shortages of biomass driving up prices, the conversion of arable land from growing food to growing biomass for liquid biofuels? 

Good policy should look ahead.

As a policy matter, I think the focus of biochar proponents should be squarely on the sequestration of carbon from available biomass waste streams, particularly now. I would assume that there are people in the Biden administration that are smart enough to recognize that there is something suspicious about a claim that a process using biomass can provide both burnable hydrocarbons and still sequester  carbon. Such a claim certainly sounds like greenwashing. 

Am I missing something?






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


On Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 1:26 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.<image001.jpg>

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative 

<image002.jpg> 

 

 




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


Rick Wilson
 

Nando, You are spot on.

re Cool Planet, I was there ground zero.  I led the team that did the first mass and energy balance, and capital cost.  Then I moved to biochar. 

Fuels.  Capital expenses were extremely high on a per gallon of fuel basis.  They were applying technology used in refining. 
A Biorefinery can not achieve economies of scale that a refinery can because it can only procure biomass from a small area before trucking costs kill variable costs. 

And you can not produce liquid fuels, which have very high energy density, from biomass because wood has low energy density.  (Unless you find a way to violate the first law of thermodynamics)
So the system needs to be energized (with natural gas)   The use of natural gas to energize the think kills carbon negativity. 

The economies and energy balance started to look acceptable if you make more biochar, and less biofuels.  Problem is, a large market for biochar does not exist. 

I completely agree with our perspective that biochar should be focused on carbon sequestration. You can produce biochar at steady state without needing outside energy.  Biochar can also reduce water for degraded soils. 

Rick


On Mar 14, 2021, at 1:32 PM, Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:

I have a question. Why the emphasis on liquid biofuels in this document? Has there been some innovation since Dynamotive went bankrupt pursuing a very well financed effort to develop and commercialize liquid biofuels via pyrolysis?

I suppose my concern is that if we keep trying to spice up a pitch for biochar carbon sequestration with a we can have our cake and eat it too promise of liquid biofuels, then we may undermine our effort.

There are only so many carbon atoms in a given unit of biomass. If a thermal decomposition process emphasizes the production of flammable oils, most likely with energy intensive fast pyrolysis or high pressure pyrolysis, between the minor amount of char left as a byproduct and the carbon emissions that the entire production process create, a policy emphasis on such a process to replace fossil oil would simply accelerate the decomposition of available biomass to CO2.

I believe that Cool Planet also tried to follow this liquid biofuel path, again with very well financed effort. What happened to them?

While an argument could be made that liquid biofuels are "better" than fossil fuels, our current situation demands a focus on the sequestration of carbon - that biochar is uniquely able to provide. I understand the compromise from years past - maybe if we can get investment from fossil fuel interests looking to transition to biofuels, we'd finally have sufficient funds to make a substantial impact. But should this compromise continue to form a central pillar of our policy proposals, particularly with the Biden administration? Particularly when Dynamotive (and Cool Planet) spent many millions of dollars proving it was not financially viable unless and until oil shortages took hold? Dynamotive had only 2 prototype plants, and as I read, they were already concerned about potential shortages of affordable waste biomass streams. Where does this idea of liquid biofuels from pyrolysis lead in the medium to long term? Shortages of biomass driving up prices, the conversion of arable land from growing food to growing biomass for liquid biofuels?

Good policy should look ahead.

As a policy matter, I think the focus of biochar proponents should be squarely on the sequestration of carbon from available biomass waste streams, particularly now. I would assume that there are people in the Biden administration that are smart enough to recognize that there is something suspicious about a claim that a process using biomass can provide both burnable hydrocarbons and still sequester  carbon. Such a claim certainly sounds like greenwashing.

Am I missing something?






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


On Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 1:26 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.<image001.jpg>

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

<image002.jpg> 

 

 




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


Kim Chaffee
 

Nando and Rick,

Thanks for explaining the major challenges regarding turning organic matter into biofuels thru pyrolysis.  How would you solve the problem of the GHG emissions from aviation fuels?  Do you know of a better way?  Commercial passenger jets will not be replaced by planes powered by batteries and props in the foreseeable future.  

Why couldn’t we take abandoned or degraded farmland, of which there is an enormous amount all over the country and the world, and use it to raise switchgrass, which is a sustainable perennial.  Switchgrass grows quickly and can be harvested very efficiently, using existing mechanical equipment.  Build a biofuel/biochar pyrolysis plant right on the site to minimize transportation costs.  Use the biochar to add carbon to the soil.  The biochar would sequester carbon and improve the soil, while the biofuel could be used in commercial jet passenger planes.  Surplus biochar could be sold into the ag market or for other uses.  

This approach would require carbon credit funding for both the aviation fuel and the biochar, but I expect that will be coming soon, as climate change intensifies.  

Kim       



On Mar 14, 2021, at 9:02 PM, Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012@...> wrote:

Nando, You are spot on.

re Cool Planet, I was there ground zero.  I led the team that did the first mass and energy balance, and capital cost.  Then I moved to biochar. 

Fuels.  Capital expenses were extremely high on a per gallon of fuel basis.  They were applying technology used in refining. 
A Biorefinery can not achieve economies of scale that a refinery can because it can only procure biomass from a small area before trucking costs kill variable costs. 

And you can not produce liquid fuels, which have very high energy density, from biomass because wood has low energy density.  (Unless you find a way to violate the first law of thermodynamics)
So the system needs to be energized (with natural gas)   The use of natural gas to energize the think kills carbon negativity. 

The economies and energy balance started to look acceptable if you make more biochar, and less biofuels.  Problem is, a large market for biochar does not exist. 

I completely agree with our perspective that biochar should be focused on carbon sequestration. You can produce biochar at steady state without needing outside energy.  Biochar can also reduce water for degraded soils. 

Rick


On Mar 14, 2021, at 1:32 PM, Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:

I have a question. Why the emphasis on liquid biofuels in this document? Has there been some innovation since Dynamotive went bankrupt pursuing a very well financed effort to develop and commercialize liquid biofuels via pyrolysis?

I suppose my concern is that if we keep trying to spice up a pitch for biochar carbon sequestration with a we can have our cake and eat it too promise of liquid biofuels, then we may undermine our effort.

There are only so many carbon atoms in a given unit of biomass. If a thermal decomposition process emphasizes the production of flammable oils, most likely with energy intensive fast pyrolysis or high pressure pyrolysis, between the minor amount of char left as a byproduct and the carbon emissions that the entire production process create, a policy emphasis on such a process to replace fossil oil would simply accelerate the decomposition of available biomass to CO2.

I believe that Cool Planet also tried to follow this liquid biofuel path, again with very well financed effort. What happened to them?

While an argument could be made that liquid biofuels are "better" than fossil fuels, our current situation demands a focus on the sequestration of carbon - that biochar is uniquely able to provide. I understand the compromise from years past - maybe if we can get investment from fossil fuel interests looking to transition to biofuels, we'd finally have sufficient funds to make a substantial impact. But should this compromise continue to form a central pillar of our policy proposals, particularly with the Biden administration? Particularly when Dynamotive (and Cool Planet) spent many millions of dollars proving it was not financially viable unless and until oil shortages took hold? Dynamotive had only 2 prototype plants, and as I read, they were already concerned about potential shortages of affordable waste biomass streams. Where does this idea of liquid biofuels from pyrolysis lead in the medium to long term? Shortages of biomass driving up prices, the conversion of arable land from growing food to growing biomass for liquid biofuels?

Good policy should look ahead.

As a policy matter, I think the focus of biochar proponents should be squarely on the sequestration of carbon from available biomass waste streams, particularly now. I would assume that there are people in the Biden administration that are smart enough to recognize that there is something suspicious about a claim that a process using biomass can provide both burnable hydrocarbons and still sequester  carbon. Such a claim certainly sounds like greenwashing.

Am I missing something?






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


On Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 1:26 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.<image001.jpg>

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

<image002.jpg> 

 

 




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



Geoff Thomas
 

Hi Rick and Kim, I understand that the aircraft industry is the keenest to develop bio fuels and I tink on company has a plane working with biofuel.
Some forgotten person told me once that a loaded Airliner taxing down the take off strip at an airport typically half the weight or more is fuel.
Airports are usually near population centres also the which may make some waste carbon items a good source and lots around.
But let’ s leave it that the folk who want to use biofuels may do so and the folk who want to concentrate on Biochar can do so as well.

Cheers,
Geoff.

On 15 Mar 2021, at 12:16 pm, Kim Chaffee <kim.chaffee2@...> wrote:

Nando and Rick,

Thanks for explaining the major challenges regarding turning organic matter into biofuels thru pyrolysis.  How would you solve the problem of the GHG emissions from aviation fuels?  Do you know of a better way?  Commercial passenger jets will not be replaced by planes powered by batteries and props in the foreseeable future.  

Why couldn’t we take abandoned or degraded farmland, of which there is an enormous amount all over the country and the world, and use it to raise switchgrass, which is a sustainable perennial. Switchgrass grows quickly and can be harvested very efficiently, using existing mechanical equipment.  Build a biofuel/biochar pyrolysis plant right on the site to minimize transportation costs.  Use the biochar to add carbon to the soil.  The biochar would sequester carbon and improve the soil, while the biofuel could be used in commercial jet passenger planes.  Surplus biochar could be sold into the ag market or for other uses.  

This approach would require carbon credit funding for both the aviation fuel and the biochar, but I expect that will be coming soon, as climate change intensifies.  

Kim       



On Mar 14, 2021, at 9:02 PM, Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012@...> wrote:

Nando, You are spot on.

re Cool Planet, I was there ground zero.  I led the team that did the first mass and energy balance, and capital cost.  Then I moved to biochar. 

Fuels.  Capital expenses were extremely high on a per gallon of fuel basis.  They were applying technology used in refining. 
A Biorefinery can not achieve economies of scale that a refinery can because it can only procure biomass from a small area before trucking costs kill variable costs. 

And you can not produce liquid fuels, which have very high energy density, from biomass because wood has low energy density.  (Unless you find a way to violate the first law of thermodynamics)
So the system needs to be energized (with natural gas)   The use of natural gas to energize the think kills carbon negativity. 

The economies and energy balance started to look acceptable if you make more biochar, and less biofuels.  Problem is, a large market for biochar does not exist. 

I completely agree with our perspective that biochar should be focused on carbon sequestration. You can produce biochar at steady state without needing outside energy.  Biochar can also reduce water for degraded soils. 

Rick


On Mar 14, 2021, at 1:32 PM, Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:

I have a question. Why the emphasis on liquid biofuels in this document? Has there been some innovation since Dynamotive went bankrupt pursuing a very well financed effort to develop and commercialize liquid biofuels via pyrolysis? 

I suppose my concern is that if we keep trying to spice up a pitch for biochar carbon sequestration with a we can have our cake and eat it too promise of liquid biofuels, then we may undermine our effort. 

There are only so many carbon atoms in a given unit of biomass. If a thermal decomposition process emphasizes the production of flammable oils, most likely with energy intensive fast pyrolysis or high pressure pyrolysis, between the minor amount of char left as a byproduct and the carbon emissions that the entire production process create, a policy emphasis on such a process to replace fossil oil would simply accelerate the decomposition of available biomass to CO2. 

I believe that Cool Planet also tried to follow this liquid biofuel path, again with very well financed effort. What happened to them?

While an argument could be made that liquid biofuels are "better" than fossil fuels, our current situation demands a focus on the sequestration of carbon - that biochar is uniquely able to provide. I understand the compromise from years past - maybe if we can get investment from fossil fuel interests looking to transition to biofuels, we'd finally have sufficient funds to make a substantial impact. But should this compromise continue to form a central pillar of our policy proposals, particularly with the Biden administration? Particularly when Dynamotive (and Cool Planet) spent many millions of dollars proving it was not financially viable unless and until oil shortages took hold? Dynamotive had only 2 prototype plants, and as I read, they were already concerned about potential shortages of affordable waste biomass streams. Where does this idea of liquid biofuels from pyrolysis lead in the medium to long term? Shortages of biomass driving up prices, the conversion of arable land from growing food to growing biomass for liquid biofuels? 

Good policy should look ahead.

As a policy matter, I think the focus of biochar proponents should be squarely on the sequestration of carbon from available biomass waste streams, particularly now. I would assume that there are people in the Biden administration that are smart enough to recognize that there is something suspicious about a claim that a process using biomass can provide both burnable hydrocarbons and still sequester  carbon. Such a claim certainly sounds like greenwashing. 

Am I missing something?






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


On Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 1:26 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.<image001.jpg>

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative 

<image002.jpg> 

 

 




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




Tom Miles
 

Great comments.

 

The specific policy recommendations were developed by a consortium of 27 people representing 18 groups including experts in biochar, agriculture, regenerative and sustainable agriculture, forest owners, biofuels, crops of all kinds, environmental policy organizations, and the US Biochar Initiative. Each of our groups have broader ambitions but this is what we hope to achieve with the current congress and administration.  

 

Let’s not look in the rear view mirror but forward to the NEW GREEN ECONOMY in which we maximize the conversion of carbon into a variety of products which have different uses and values for carbon offset and removal. For biochars to be produced at the scale we need for significant drawdown they will likely be a co-products of other carbon recycling processes. Biofuel and bio-oil technologies in development maximize carbon conversion to chemical forms which can have longer lives than just biofuels. Biochars are compatible with waste conversion, energy crops, and other carbon processing. At IBI and USBI we are working with biofuel and biochemical technology developers to develop the best combination of regenerative agriculture and carbon sequestration while pushing toward net-zero emissions. Let’s keep pushing the envelope on technologies while developing practical production of biochars for soil and environmental uses.

 

Tom

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

USBI Logo - Copy (420x176) 

 

 

 

  

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Kim Chaffee
Sent: Sunday, March 14, 2021 7:17 PM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Cc: Jeff Waldon <jeff.waldon@...>
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels

 

Nando and Rick,

 

Thanks for explaining the major challenges regarding turning organic matter into biofuels thru pyrolysis.  How would you solve the problem of the GHG emissions from aviation fuels?  Do you know of a better way?  Commercial passenger jets will not be replaced by planes powered by batteries and props in the foreseeable future.  

 

Why couldn’t we take abandoned or degraded farmland, of which there is an enormous amount all over the country and the world, and use it to raise switchgrass, which is a sustainable perennial.  Switchgrass grows quickly and can be harvested very efficiently, using existing mechanical equipment.  Build a biofuel/biochar pyrolysis plant right on the site to minimize transportation costs.  Use the biochar to add carbon to the soil.  The biochar would sequester carbon and improve the soil, while the biofuel could be used in commercial jet passenger planes.  Surplus biochar could be sold into the ag market or for other uses.  

 

This approach would require carbon credit funding for both the aviation fuel and the biochar, but I expect that will be coming soon, as climate change intensifies.  

 

Kim       

 

 

 

On Mar 14, 2021, at 9:02 PM, Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012@...> wrote:

 

Nando, You are spot on.

 

re Cool Planet, I was there ground zero.  I led the team that did the first mass and energy balance, and capital cost.  Then I moved to biochar. 

 

Fuels.  Capital expenses were extremely high on a per gallon of fuel basis.  They were applying technology used in refining. 

A Biorefinery can not achieve economies of scale that a refinery can because it can only procure biomass from a small area before trucking costs kill variable costs. 

 

And you can not produce liquid fuels, which have very high energy density, from biomass because wood has low energy density.  (Unless you find a way to violate the first law of thermodynamics)

So the system needs to be energized (with natural gas)   The use of natural gas to energize the think kills carbon negativity. 

 

The economies and energy balance started to look acceptable if you make more biochar, and less biofuels.  Problem is, a large market for biochar does not exist. 

 

I completely agree with our perspective that biochar should be focused on carbon sequestration. You can produce biochar at steady state without needing outside energy.  Biochar can also reduce water for degraded soils. 

 

Rick

 

 

On Mar 14, 2021, at 1:32 PM, Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:

 

I have a question. Why the emphasis on liquid biofuels in this document? Has there been some innovation since Dynamotive went bankrupt pursuing a very well financed effort to develop and commercialize liquid biofuels via pyrolysis?

 

I suppose my concern is that if we keep trying to spice up a pitch for biochar carbon sequestration with a we can have our cake and eat it too promise of liquid biofuels, then we may undermine our effort.

 

There are only so many carbon atoms in a given unit of biomass. If a thermal decomposition process emphasizes the production of flammable oils, most likely with energy intensive fast pyrolysis or high pressure pyrolysis, between the minor amount of char left as a byproduct and the carbon emissions that the entire production process create, a policy emphasis on such a process to replace fossil oil would simply accelerate the decomposition of available biomass to CO2.

 

I believe that Cool Planet also tried to follow this liquid biofuel path, again with very well financed effort. What happened to them?

 

While an argument could be made that liquid biofuels are "better" than fossil fuels, our current situation demands a focus on the sequestration of carbon - that biochar is uniquely able to provide. I understand the compromise from years past - maybe if we can get investment from fossil fuel interests looking to transition to biofuels, we'd finally have sufficient funds to make a substantial impact. But should this compromise continue to form a central pillar of our policy proposals, particularly with the Biden administration? Particularly when Dynamotive (and Cool Planet) spent many millions of dollars proving it was not financially viable unless and until oil shortages took hold? Dynamotive had only 2 prototype plants, and as I read, they were already concerned about potential shortages of affordable waste biomass streams. Where does this idea of liquid biofuels from pyrolysis lead in the medium to long term? Shortages of biomass driving up prices, the conversion of arable land from growing food to growing biomass for liquid biofuels?

 

Good policy should look ahead.

 

As a policy matter, I think the focus of biochar proponents should be squarely on the sequestration of carbon from available biomass waste streams, particularly now. I would assume that there are people in the Biden administration that are smart enough to recognize that there is something suspicious about a claim that a process using biomass can provide both burnable hydrocarbons and still sequester  carbon. Such a claim certainly sounds like greenwashing.

 

Am I missing something?

 

 

 

 

 

 

CarbonZero

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

 

 

On Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 1:26 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.<image001.jpg>

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

<image002.jpg> 

 

 

 

 


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

 

 


Rick Wilson
 

Geoff, Kim,

My perspective is that we need to do what we can economically to eliminate or burry carbon were we can.  Solving the jet fuel challenge could take some time, during that time, offset the emissions. 
Utilizing the ability of biochar to catalyze carbon sequestration in the soil is where I believe we can have the largest negative carbon impact. 

For jet fuels, in the near term, and at a limited scale I believe a company like Lanzatech could deliver on jet fuels, with a favorable carbon footprint.
They use waste carbon monoxide from steel mills, instead of turning it into CO2, synthesize into jet fuel.  Thinking about the problem from a sustainability perspective, reusing what we have, I believe can help us directionally get there. 

I currently support the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado at the board level working on long term solutions.   Trust there is a path.


In the mean time, if we all focus on making the case for, and advancing the use of, biochar catalyzing carbon sequestration in the soil.  We can all have a huge impact in the near term.

Rick


On Mar 14, 2021, at 7:44 PM, Geoff Thomas <wind@...> wrote:

Hi Rick and Kim, I understand that the aircraft industry is the keenest to develop bio fuels and I tink on company has a plane working with biofuel.
Some forgotten person told me once that a loaded Airliner taxing down the take off strip at an airport typically half the weight or more is fuel.
Airports are usually near population centres also the which may make some waste carbon items a good source and lots around.
But let’ s leave it that the folk who want to use biofuels may do so and the folk who want to concentrate on Biochar can do so as well.

Cheers,
Geoff.

On 15 Mar 2021, at 12:16 pm, Kim Chaffee <kim.chaffee2@...> wrote:

Nando and Rick,

Thanks for explaining the major challenges regarding turning organic matter into biofuels thru pyrolysis.  How would you solve the problem of the GHG emissions from aviation fuels?  Do you know of a better way?  Commercial passenger jets will not be replaced by planes powered by batteries and props in the foreseeable future.  

Why couldn’t we take abandoned or degraded farmland, of which there is an enormous amount all over the country and the world, and use it to raise switchgrass, which is a sustainable perennial. Switchgrass grows quickly and can be harvested very efficiently, using existing mechanical equipment.  Build a biofuel/biochar pyrolysis plant right on the site to minimize transportation costs.  Use the biochar to add carbon to the soil.  The biochar would sequester carbon and improve the soil, while the biofuel could be used in commercial jet passenger planes.  Surplus biochar could be sold into the ag market or for other uses.  

This approach would require carbon credit funding for both the aviation fuel and the biochar, but I expect that will be coming soon, as climate change intensifies.  

Kim       



On Mar 14, 2021, at 9:02 PM, Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012@...> wrote:

Nando, You are spot on.

re Cool Planet, I was there ground zero.  I led the team that did the first mass and energy balance, and capital cost.  Then I moved to biochar. 

Fuels.  Capital expenses were extremely high on a per gallon of fuel basis.  They were applying technology used in refining. 
A Biorefinery can not achieve economies of scale that a refinery can because it can only procure biomass from a small area before trucking costs kill variable costs. 

And you can not produce liquid fuels, which have very high energy density, from biomass because wood has low energy density.  (Unless you find a way to violate the first law of thermodynamics)
So the system needs to be energized (with natural gas)   The use of natural gas to energize the think kills carbon negativity. 

The economies and energy balance started to look acceptable if you make more biochar, and less biofuels.  Problem is, a large market for biochar does not exist. 

I completely agree with our perspective that biochar should be focused on carbon sequestration. You can produce biochar at steady state without needing outside energy.  Biochar can also reduce water for degraded soils. 

Rick


On Mar 14, 2021, at 1:32 PM, Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:

I have a question. Why the emphasis on liquid biofuels in this document? Has there been some innovation since Dynamotive went bankrupt pursuing a very well financed effort to develop and commercialize liquid biofuels via pyrolysis? 

I suppose my concern is that if we keep trying to spice up a pitch for biochar carbon sequestration with a we can have our cake and eat it too promise of liquid biofuels, then we may undermine our effort. 

There are only so many carbon atoms in a given unit of biomass. If a thermal decomposition process emphasizes the production of flammable oils, most likely with energy intensive fast pyrolysis or high pressure pyrolysis, between the minor amount of char left as a byproduct and the carbon emissions that the entire production process create, a policy emphasis on such a process to replace fossil oil would simply accelerate the decomposition of available biomass to CO2. 

I believe that Cool Planet also tried to follow this liquid biofuel path, again with very well financed effort. What happened to them?

While an argument could be made that liquid biofuels are "better" than fossil fuels, our current situation demands a focus on the sequestration of carbon - that biochar is uniquely able to provide. I understand the compromise from years past - maybe if we can get investment from fossil fuel interests looking to transition to biofuels, we'd finally have sufficient funds to make a substantial impact. But should this compromise continue to form a central pillar of our policy proposals, particularly with the Biden administration? Particularly when Dynamotive (and Cool Planet) spent many millions of dollars proving it was not financially viable unless and until oil shortages took hold? Dynamotive had only 2 prototype plants, and as I read, they were already concerned about potential shortages of affordable waste biomass streams. Where does this idea of liquid biofuels from pyrolysis lead in the medium to long term? Shortages of biomass driving up prices, the conversion of arable land from growing food to growing biomass for liquid biofuels? 

Good policy should look ahead.

As a policy matter, I think the focus of biochar proponents should be squarely on the sequestration of carbon from available biomass waste streams, particularly now. I would assume that there are people in the Biden administration that are smart enough to recognize that there is something suspicious about a claim that a process using biomass can provide both burnable hydrocarbons and still sequester  carbon. Such a claim certainly sounds like greenwashing. 

Am I missing something?






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


On Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 1:26 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.<image001.jpg>

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative 

<image002.jpg> 

 

 




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





Nando Breiter
 

Kim,

There's a saying: for someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Pyrolysis isn't the right tool for every sustainability issue we face. The farther we go out onto a limb to claim it is, the greater the risk we will not be taken seriously. The right tool implies a viable pathway from concept to widespread implementation, economically, practically, technically. Being able to make some jet fuel in a lab doesn't make pyrolysis a means to replace fossil fuels. As I wrote, 2 well funded efforts to make liquid fuels from pyrolysis as small scale demonstration plants have failed, and the failure points were largely economic and practical rather than technical.

You see, people looking in from the outside of our echo chamber will doubt every claim we make. If I, for instance, make the claim that a certain specially processed mineral can improve soils and increase agricultural productivity, sequester vast amounts of atmospheric CO2, and be used to create carbon neutral jet and transportation fuel, that claim will elicit a substantial amount of doubt, particularly if I'm asking for financial or government support.

So, again, pyrolysis isn't the right / ideal tool for every sustainability issue we face. And the primary human reaction to any new claim is almost always doubt. There is a chance with the Biden administration that biochar can garner federal support for its core claim that it can be used to sequester carbon in a sustainable way. So I think that should be the focus of any policy appeal made.

Is it appropriate to send this comment on to Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)? I don't understand what the original post is asking for in this regard.



On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 3:16 AM Kim Chaffee <kim.chaffee2@...> wrote:
Nando and Rick,

Thanks for explaining the major challenges regarding turning organic matter into biofuels thru pyrolysis.  How would you solve the problem of the GHG emissions from aviation fuels?  Do you know of a better way?  Commercial passenger jets will not be replaced by planes powered by batteries and props in the foreseeable future.  

Why couldn’t we take abandoned or degraded farmland, of which there is an enormous amount all over the country and the world, and use it to raise switchgrass, which is a sustainable perennial.  Switchgrass grows quickly and can be harvested very efficiently, using existing mechanical equipment.  Build a biofuel/biochar pyrolysis plant right on the site to minimize transportation costs.  Use the biochar to add carbon to the soil.  The biochar would sequester carbon and improve the soil, while the biofuel could be used in commercial jet passenger planes.  Surplus biochar could be sold into the ag market or for other uses.  

This approach would require carbon credit funding for both the aviation fuel and the biochar, but I expect that will be coming soon, as climate change intensifies.  

Kim       



On Mar 14, 2021, at 9:02 PM, Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012@...> wrote:

Nando, You are spot on.

re Cool Planet, I was there ground zero.  I led the team that did the first mass and energy balance, and capital cost.  Then I moved to biochar. 

Fuels.  Capital expenses were extremely high on a per gallon of fuel basis.  They were applying technology used in refining. 
A Biorefinery can not achieve economies of scale that a refinery can because it can only procure biomass from a small area before trucking costs kill variable costs. 

And you can not produce liquid fuels, which have very high energy density, from biomass because wood has low energy density.  (Unless you find a way to violate the first law of thermodynamics)
So the system needs to be energized (with natural gas)   The use of natural gas to energize the think kills carbon negativity. 

The economies and energy balance started to look acceptable if you make more biochar, and less biofuels.  Problem is, a large market for biochar does not exist. 

I completely agree with our perspective that biochar should be focused on carbon sequestration. You can produce biochar at steady state without needing outside energy.  Biochar can also reduce water for degraded soils. 

Rick


On Mar 14, 2021, at 1:32 PM, Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:

I have a question. Why the emphasis on liquid biofuels in this document? Has there been some innovation since Dynamotive went bankrupt pursuing a very well financed effort to develop and commercialize liquid biofuels via pyrolysis?

I suppose my concern is that if we keep trying to spice up a pitch for biochar carbon sequestration with a we can have our cake and eat it too promise of liquid biofuels, then we may undermine our effort.

There are only so many carbon atoms in a given unit of biomass. If a thermal decomposition process emphasizes the production of flammable oils, most likely with energy intensive fast pyrolysis or high pressure pyrolysis, between the minor amount of char left as a byproduct and the carbon emissions that the entire production process create, a policy emphasis on such a process to replace fossil oil would simply accelerate the decomposition of available biomass to CO2.

I believe that Cool Planet also tried to follow this liquid biofuel path, again with very well financed effort. What happened to them?

While an argument could be made that liquid biofuels are "better" than fossil fuels, our current situation demands a focus on the sequestration of carbon - that biochar is uniquely able to provide. I understand the compromise from years past - maybe if we can get investment from fossil fuel interests looking to transition to biofuels, we'd finally have sufficient funds to make a substantial impact. But should this compromise continue to form a central pillar of our policy proposals, particularly with the Biden administration? Particularly when Dynamotive (and Cool Planet) spent many millions of dollars proving it was not financially viable unless and until oil shortages took hold? Dynamotive had only 2 prototype plants, and as I read, they were already concerned about potential shortages of affordable waste biomass streams. Where does this idea of liquid biofuels from pyrolysis lead in the medium to long term? Shortages of biomass driving up prices, the conversion of arable land from growing food to growing biomass for liquid biofuels?

Good policy should look ahead.

As a policy matter, I think the focus of biochar proponents should be squarely on the sequestration of carbon from available biomass waste streams, particularly now. I would assume that there are people in the Biden administration that are smart enough to recognize that there is something suspicious about a claim that a process using biomass can provide both burnable hydrocarbons and still sequester  carbon. Such a claim certainly sounds like greenwashing.

Am I missing something?






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


On Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 1:26 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.<image001.jpg>

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

<image002.jpg> 

 

 




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



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


Ian McChesney
 

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.


Tom Miles
 

Nando.

 

The general policy discussion should remain here in this forum so we can consider the comments at USBI and IBI. This level of discussion is not appropriate to communicate to Bev. Bev Paul is generously acting on behalf of a consortium of 27 representatives from 18 organizations to communicate priority achievable actions to the current US administration to align with current politics. We are currently looking for support through the Federal Register, legislative committees and legislators to launch these short term policy efforts. The timeline has been set by the January 27 Biden administration Executive Order on climate.

 

We see the need to broaden the conversation to include other processes which compete for the same pool of potential feedstocks. Many of the processes can be complementary, sharing the logistics of a billion tons of biomass (in the US).    

 

Thanks

 

Tom   

 

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Nando Breiter
Sent: Monday, March 15, 2021 10:19 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] Biochar Policy Recommendations to Address Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels

 

Kim,

 

There's a saying: for someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

 

Pyrolysis isn't the right tool for every sustainability issue we face. The farther we go out onto a limb to claim it is, the greater the risk we will not be taken seriously. The right tool implies a viable pathway from concept to widespread implementation, economically, practically, technically. Being able to make some jet fuel in a lab doesn't make pyrolysis a means to replace fossil fuels. As I wrote, 2 well funded efforts to make liquid fuels from pyrolysis as small scale demonstration plants have failed, and the failure points were largely economic and practical rather than technical.

 

You see, people looking in from the outside of our echo chamber will doubt every claim we make. If I, for instance, make the claim that a certain specially processed mineral can improve soils and increase agricultural productivity, sequester vast amounts of atmospheric CO2, and be used to create carbon neutral jet and transportation fuel, that claim will elicit a substantial amount of doubt, particularly if I'm asking for financial or government support.

 

So, again, pyrolysis isn't the right / ideal tool for every sustainability issue we face. And the primary human reaction to any new claim is almost always doubt. There is a chance with the Biden administration that biochar can garner federal support for its core claim that it can be used to sequester carbon in a sustainable way. So I think that should be the focus of any policy appeal made.

 

Is it appropriate to send this comment on to Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)? I don't understand what the original post is asking for in this regard.

 

 

 

On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 3:16 AM Kim Chaffee <kim.chaffee2@...> wrote:

Nando and Rick,

 

Thanks for explaining the major challenges regarding turning organic matter into biofuels thru pyrolysis.  How would you solve the problem of the GHG emissions from aviation fuels?  Do you know of a better way?  Commercial passenger jets will not be replaced by planes powered by batteries and props in the foreseeable future.  

 

Why couldn’t we take abandoned or degraded farmland, of which there is an enormous amount all over the country and the world, and use it to raise switchgrass, which is a sustainable perennial.  Switchgrass grows quickly and can be harvested very efficiently, using existing mechanical equipment.  Build a biofuel/biochar pyrolysis plant right on the site to minimize transportation costs.  Use the biochar to add carbon to the soil.  The biochar would sequester carbon and improve the soil, while the biofuel could be used in commercial jet passenger planes.  Surplus biochar could be sold into the ag market or for other uses.  

 

This approach would require carbon credit funding for both the aviation fuel and the biochar, but I expect that will be coming soon, as climate change intensifies.  

 

Kim       

 

 



On Mar 14, 2021, at 9:02 PM, Rick Wilson via groups.io <rick012@...> wrote:

 

Nando, You are spot on.

 

re Cool Planet, I was there ground zero.  I led the team that did the first mass and energy balance, and capital cost.  Then I moved to biochar. 

 

Fuels.  Capital expenses were extremely high on a per gallon of fuel basis.  They were applying technology used in refining. 

A Biorefinery can not achieve economies of scale that a refinery can because it can only procure biomass from a small area before trucking costs kill variable costs. 

 

And you can not produce liquid fuels, which have very high energy density, from biomass because wood has low energy density.  (Unless you find a way to violate the first law of thermodynamics)

So the system needs to be energized (with natural gas)   The use of natural gas to energize the think kills carbon negativity. 

 

The economies and energy balance started to look acceptable if you make more biochar, and less biofuels.  Problem is, a large market for biochar does not exist. 

 

I completely agree with our perspective that biochar should be focused on carbon sequestration. You can produce biochar at steady state without needing outside energy.  Biochar can also reduce water for degraded soils. 

 

Rick

 



On Mar 14, 2021, at 1:32 PM, Nando Breiter <nando@...> wrote:

 

I have a question. Why the emphasis on liquid biofuels in this document? Has there been some innovation since Dynamotive went bankrupt pursuing a very well financed effort to develop and commercialize liquid biofuels via pyrolysis?

 

I suppose my concern is that if we keep trying to spice up a pitch for biochar carbon sequestration with a we can have our cake and eat it too promise of liquid biofuels, then we may undermine our effort.

 

There are only so many carbon atoms in a given unit of biomass. If a thermal decomposition process emphasizes the production of flammable oils, most likely with energy intensive fast pyrolysis or high pressure pyrolysis, between the minor amount of char left as a byproduct and the carbon emissions that the entire production process create, a policy emphasis on such a process to replace fossil oil would simply accelerate the decomposition of available biomass to CO2.

 

I believe that Cool Planet also tried to follow this liquid biofuel path, again with very well financed effort. What happened to them?

 

While an argument could be made that liquid biofuels are "better" than fossil fuels, our current situation demands a focus on the sequestration of carbon - that biochar is uniquely able to provide. I understand the compromise from years past - maybe if we can get investment from fossil fuel interests looking to transition to biofuels, we'd finally have sufficient funds to make a substantial impact. But should this compromise continue to form a central pillar of our policy proposals, particularly with the Biden administration? Particularly when Dynamotive (and Cool Planet) spent many millions of dollars proving it was not financially viable unless and until oil shortages took hold? Dynamotive had only 2 prototype plants, and as I read, they were already concerned about potential shortages of affordable waste biomass streams. Where does this idea of liquid biofuels from pyrolysis lead in the medium to long term? Shortages of biomass driving up prices, the conversion of arable land from growing food to growing biomass for liquid biofuels?

 

Good policy should look ahead.

 

As a policy matter, I think the focus of biochar proponents should be squarely on the sequestration of carbon from available biomass waste streams, particularly now. I would assume that there are people in the Biden administration that are smart enough to recognize that there is something suspicious about a claim that a process using biomass can provide both burnable hydrocarbons and still sequester  carbon. Such a claim certainly sounds like greenwashing.

 

Am I missing something?

 

 

 

 

 

 

CarbonZero

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

 

 

On Sun, Mar 14, 2021 at 1:26 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

"America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels." J.R. Biden, Executive Order on Climate Jan 27, 2021 

 

USBI joins farm, forest, scientific, and environmental organizations to recommend policies which promote the production and use of biochar to achieve the natural resource and climate goals of the new administration. A Federal Register notice requesting comment on climate solutions is forthcoming. As many of you may be involved in providing responses to that notice, we are attaching here a short document of policy recommendations that will enable biochar development across cropland and forests. We hope that you will be able to include some or all of these recommendations in your comments.

 

Please let Beverly Paul (bpaul@...)  know if we can provide any additional background that might help with your comments.<image001.jpg>

Contact Beverly Paul bpaul@... or Chuck Hassebrook hassebrock@...

 

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

<image002.jpg> 

 

 

 

 


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

 

 


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


Rick Wilson
 

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
 

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


Rick Wilson
 

Nando, you make great point around WV organics being the pesticides that plants have that provides resistance to biological degradation!

I’ve been through US pesticidal registration.  It takes time, and you need to make your case of course.  Perhaps you could have the WV analyzed so you know what is in it, then investigate the pesticidal properties of each of the molecules via a literature search, and use that analysis, without any testing (since you will have the studies showing the efficacy of certain compounds) to make your case.

As a fertilizer. Analyze for NPK and secondary macronutrients, and micronutrients then make your claim.  

Rick


On Mar 15, 2021, at 4:18 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


mikethewormguy
 

Nando,

 Pesticide registration is both a decision of business and science. Happy to act as a sounding board, if needed.  

Mike


Bob Wells
 

  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



Tom Miles
 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Bob Wells
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: 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



Nando Breiter
 

Thanks very much for this link Tom. I will follow up.


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


On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 6:59 PM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

Here’s an opportunity to educate the government.

 

https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2021/03/15/usda-requests-information-usdas-climate-smart-agriculture-and

 

Tom

 

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Bob Wells
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:52 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Subject: 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



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


Tom Miles
 

US Biochar Advocates: Please respond to the  USDA request for comments on climate linked to here: Regulations.gov before April 29, 2021

 

The more times biochar shows up in these responses, the better of course. Use our USBI policy recommendations as the starting point in putting together comments.

 

Many thanks

 

Tom Miles

Executive Director

U.S. Biochar Initiative

"Promoting the Sustainable Production and Use of Biochar"

www.biochar-us.org

@USbiochar

Facebook US Biochar Initiative

USBI Logo - Copy (420x176) 

 

 


Ian McChesney
 

 

Rick et al, 

 

Yes, from an energy perspective carbon can be used chemically to reduce CO2 back to a usable fuel. This (with added hydrogen) was the basis of the Carbo V/Choren/’SunDiesel’ process. 

 

In wider application this carbon would come from char. If char making was cheaper and feedstock was ‘free’ (as in poorer countries) we could have a lot of char available for this purpose. Fortunately, char is not cheap, even as a by-product of fuel production, and we don’t use it this way. 

 

The char production cycle can be carbon negative and, because of this, carbon removal payments should encourage burying and become the main driver for biochar production. 

 

‘Paying the toll’ can come indirectly from monetising the heat energy liberated from char conversion. Instead of using furnace clinker from existing boilers as ‘char’ we could think about putting a pyrolyser in before any (biomass) boiler. This would extract vinegars, reform solid carbon to biochar, and leave the pyrolysis gases/tars to be burnt through the boiler. 

 

The Policy framework to encourage this biochar + product innovation is not yet in place. Using low grade biomass (residues) to replace a fraction of high grade biomass (chips) won’t take place until CO2 payments (>$100t/CO2) become the main driver and allow this type of installation to be financed.     

 

Eventually, biochar itself could become as inexpensive as compost …………...