Topics

GHG Targets for Biochar Processes #ghg #corcs #co2e


Tom Miles
 

What GHG targets should we set for biochars?

 

According to “cradle to cradle” life cycle assessments the carbon sequestration potential for most biochar systems is about 2.5 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of biochar. How do offsets from energy recovery impact the GHG potential? GHG impact of fuels are often expressed in terms of the amount of energy produced, such as kg CO2e/MJ. Energy recovered from carbonization (~30%-50%) can be used for heat (thermal renewable energy credits, CO2e/MJ), enhanced gaseous fuel (Renewable Natural Gas, RNG) when added to anaerobic digestors (CO2e/MJ), or electricity via turbines or IC engines or turbines, (CO2e/kWh).  How do biochar systems that recover heat, electricity, or transportation fuels like RNG, compare with other renewable fuels like biomass energy, biodiesel, grain ethanol or cellulosic ethanol? How does that vary as we increase carbon recovery and reduce energy co-products?

 

Tom

 

 


Tom Miles
 

There is interesting comparison of alternatives for what to do with an 540,000 wet tons of wood waste currently consumed at a biomass power plant in California at:

https://redwoodenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Verdi_FinalPresentation.pdf

 

Evaluation criteria include:

Economic - Payback Period (years) Operational Flexibility (range treated)

Environmental - GHGs (MT CO2 -eq/BDT); Particulate Matter (kg/BDT);  NOx (kg/BDT), SOx (kg/BDT), CO (kg/BDT); Carbon Sequestration (%); Decentralized Utilization (km); Ecological Impact (km2 )

Social -  Employment (# of people), Public Concern

 

Alternatives: Pyrolysis, Gasification, Tissue Manufacturing, Organic Mulch

 

Gasification with biochar recovery was the preferred alternative

 

The project was a “Capstone” project for Humboldt State University.

 

Tom

 

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Tom Miles
Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2020 10:45 AM
To: biochar@groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] GHG Targets for Biochar Processes

 

What GHG targets should we set for biochars?

 

According to “cradle to cradle” life cycle assessments the carbon sequestration potential for most biochar systems is about 2.5 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of biochar. How do offsets from energy recovery impact the GHG potential? GHG impact of fuels are often expressed in terms of the amount of energy produced, such as kg CO2e/MJ. Energy recovered from carbonization (~30%-50%) can be used for heat (thermal renewable energy credits, CO2e/MJ), enhanced gaseous fuel (Renewable Natural Gas, RNG) when added to anaerobic digestors (CO2e/MJ), or electricity via turbines or IC engines or turbines, (CO2e/kWh).  How do biochar systems that recover heat, electricity, or transportation fuels like RNG, compare with other renewable fuels like biomass energy, biodiesel, grain ethanol or cellulosic ethanol? How does that vary as we increase carbon recovery and reduce energy co-products?

 

Tom

 

 


Stephen Joseph
 

sort of study where small changes in assumptions can lead to different conclusions.  My guess is  there are not real differences between pyrolysis adn gasification if you consider the GHG benefits of adding biochar to soil or animal feeding.


On Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 7:39 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

There is interesting comparison of alternatives for what to do with an 540,000 wet tons of wood waste currently consumed at a biomass power plant in California at:

https://redwoodenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Verdi_FinalPresentation.pdf

 

Evaluation criteria include:

Economic - Payback Period (years) Operational Flexibility (range treated)

Environmental - GHGs (MT CO2 -eq/BDT); Particulate Matter (kg/BDT);  NOx (kg/BDT), SOx (kg/BDT), CO (kg/BDT); Carbon Sequestration (%); Decentralized Utilization (km); Ecological Impact (km2 )

Social -  Employment (# of people), Public Concern

 

Alternatives: Pyrolysis, Gasification, Tissue Manufacturing, Organic Mulch

 

Gasification with biochar recovery was the preferred alternative

 

The project was a “Capstone” project for Humboldt State University.

 

Tom

 

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Tom Miles
Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2020 10:45 AM
To: biochar@groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] GHG Targets for Biochar Processes

 

What GHG targets should we set for biochars?

 

According to “cradle to cradle” life cycle assessments the carbon sequestration potential for most biochar systems is about 2.5 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of biochar. How do offsets from energy recovery impact the GHG potential? GHG impact of fuels are often expressed in terms of the amount of energy produced, such as kg CO2e/MJ. Energy recovered from carbonization (~30%-50%) can be used for heat (thermal renewable energy credits, CO2e/MJ), enhanced gaseous fuel (Renewable Natural Gas, RNG) when added to anaerobic digestors (CO2e/MJ), or electricity via turbines or IC engines or turbines, (CO2e/kWh).  How do biochar systems that recover heat, electricity, or transportation fuels like RNG, compare with other renewable fuels like biomass energy, biodiesel, grain ethanol or cellulosic ethanol? How does that vary as we increase carbon recovery and reduce energy co-products?

 

Tom

 

 


Tom Miles
 

Agreed. Assumption not completely apparent in a power point. 

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

On Sep 13, 2020, at 3:52 PM, Stephen Joseph <joey.stephen@...> wrote:


sort of study where small changes in assumptions can lead to different conclusions.  My guess is  there are not real differences between pyrolysis adn gasification if you consider the GHG benefits of adding biochar to soil or animal feeding.

On Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 7:39 AM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

There is interesting comparison of alternatives for what to do with an 540,000 wet tons of wood waste currently consumed at a biomass power plant in California at:

https://redwoodenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Verdi_FinalPresentation.pdf

 

Evaluation criteria include:

Economic - Payback Period (years) Operational Flexibility (range treated)

Environmental - GHGs (MT CO2 -eq/BDT); Particulate Matter (kg/BDT);  NOx (kg/BDT), SOx (kg/BDT), CO (kg/BDT); Carbon Sequestration (%); Decentralized Utilization (km); Ecological Impact (km2 )

Social -  Employment (# of people), Public Concern

 

Alternatives: Pyrolysis, Gasification, Tissue Manufacturing, Organic Mulch

 

Gasification with biochar recovery was the preferred alternative

 

The project was a “Capstone” project for Humboldt State University.

 

Tom

 

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Tom Miles
Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2020 10:45 AM
To: biochar@groups.io
Subject: [Biochar] GHG Targets for Biochar Processes

 

What GHG targets should we set for biochars?

 

According to “cradle to cradle” life cycle assessments the carbon sequestration potential for most biochar systems is about 2.5 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of biochar. How do offsets from energy recovery impact the GHG potential? GHG impact of fuels are often expressed in terms of the amount of energy produced, such as kg CO2e/MJ. Energy recovered from carbonization (~30%-50%) can be used for heat (thermal renewable energy credits, CO2e/MJ), enhanced gaseous fuel (Renewable Natural Gas, RNG) when added to anaerobic digestors (CO2e/MJ), or electricity via turbines or IC engines or turbines, (CO2e/kWh).  How do biochar systems that recover heat, electricity, or transportation fuels like RNG, compare with other renewable fuels like biomass energy, biodiesel, grain ethanol or cellulosic ethanol? How does that vary as we increase carbon recovery and reduce energy co-products?

 

Tom

 

 


jeff waldon
 

Great question, and one with which I've been struggling for the last year or so.  A full life cycle analysis would also take into account the baseline vs. project GHG impacts from feedstock (soil carbon, cultivation/management, harvesting, transportation, storage).  To answer your question, I'm coming up with a projected GHG benefit of a little bit more than 4 mtCO2e/ton of biochar in our switchgrass/pyrolysis/heat energy system.  Every system variation (dozens of variables) will impact that number so it's hard to make general statements, but the message is clear that this is a viable technology and strategy for climate change mitigation.  The economics of it are getting better weekly it seems.  We think we are competitive with propane, fuel oil, wood pellets in some markets, and battery storage now without a price on carbon.  

The US is at another crisis point with a combination of historic fires, summer drought, historic heatwaves, and an exceptionally active hurricane season.  Pyrolysis is a proven negative emissions technology.  Pyrolysis with a deep rooted herbaceous feedstock is even more so.  

Jeff


Ian McChesney
 

Hi Tom,

A complex subject, that comes with a lot of quicksand ….. often delivering conclusions that simply reflect the assumptions.

If pyrolysis gas converts by CHP (ideally), and the char goes to soil,  then in exchange for a reduced energy outcome per unit of plant carbon there is a benefit of CO2 sequestration. 

If the biochar increases the yield of plant carbon from soil then this reduction is lower and the sequestration rate higher per unit of land. 

In a climate emergency this multiplier effect on degraded land should encourage the substitution of fossil carbon by this ‘recycled’ carbon from plants.

If we don’t do this we will all be slowly cooked …………. ‘Models’  just hide this inconvenient fact in unrealistic scenarios (BECCS).

Regards, Ian


Bob Wells
 

    That's a tough question Tom. First of all, are you asking for yourself, to inspire a conversation, or to be able to establish a system to be applied within the industry?  Also, are you talking about Cradle To Cradle or Life Cycle Analysis?  They aren't really the same thing.
    I started crunching the numbers years ago in hope of being able to generate a real number that I could actually attach to some of my products as a marketing tool.  We all brag about sequestering carbon but I wanted to know exactly how much.  Not feeling sure enough about my own numbers to actually publish them, I later hired a team of academics to give me an LCA for our production system and for biochar made using our system.   After they used all their PHD brainpower and fancy european LCA software, I was encouraged when they came up with very similar numbers as I did myself.  What I mostly learned through the whole exercise is how intensely complex the CO2 questions are and how difficult it is to get down to comparing apples with apples.  There are so many variables, and you have to make so many assumptions along the way, that I would find it difficult to trust the numbers coming from multiple sources.  It's kind of like getting one of those dna tests done to tell you where your ancestors came from.  Recently identical twins got reports from the same company of coming from different populations.  
    I sympathize with your position and perspective of pretty much representing a whole industry to the rest of the world. And I'm sure that as an engineer you are expected to be able to answer these questions.  In my humble opinion, even though I actually believe my system to be more efficient in energy than any other that I have seen, and therefore stands to gain the most by stringent comparison, I recommend that any system of comparing be kept as simple as possible for the following reasons;  1)  We simple people need to be able to understand and believe it.  2) We simple people need to be able to actually use it without having to hire a team of engineers.  3) It will easily be verifiable by peers without much trouble so that fakers can be called out.  4) It will apply to all scales of systems equally.  (Remember that the little and medium scale folks matter too.)
    That being said, I don't know how any simple comparison can be made.  My own system A) Makes perfect biochar  B) Collects and uses the excess process heat to heat my house and greenhouse with hydronics to offset the electric house heating system and/or dry incoming feedstock C) Produces huge amounts of wood vinegar for agriculture D) Produces tar and oil that can be used as fuel but I prefer to use it as paving materials.  E) Is proven capable of making electricity but it is not cost effective at this time.
    How can I begin to compare all that from a perspective of GHG equivalents and (CO2e/kWh)?  Perhaps I have to resign myself to waiting for a PHD paper to surface or I need to hire an engineering firm like yours to compute out the actual numbers as best they can.  A big industrial system would have a much easier time figuring out these numbers.  However I am still convinced that it is the distributed model that is going to have a lasting effect on the biochar industry.

    I have to now ask, if there is a known potential for using the energy from the process and we give it a number, do we then have to subtract that number from processors like the air burners that don't use any of the energy?

    It's always been on my mind that there are two main sources of biochar.  The first are the people who make energy and have a little really poor grade biochar left as a co-product.  The second group are the people who make biochar and have some energy left over that they should figure out how to use.  The first group is making use of something that they used to landfill in order to claim some GHG credit and have someone haul it away for them.  The biochar makers in general, with some exceptions, don't seem as quick to make use of their co-products.  

Bob Wells

On Sat, Sep 12, 2020 at 1:45 PM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

What GHG targets should we set for biochars?

 

According to “cradle to cradle” life cycle assessments the carbon sequestration potential for most biochar systems is about 2.5 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of biochar. How do offsets from energy recovery impact the GHG potential? GHG impact of fuels are often expressed in terms of the amount of energy produced, such as kg CO2e/MJ. Energy recovered from carbonization (~30%-50%) can be used for heat (thermal renewable energy credits, CO2e/MJ), enhanced gaseous fuel (Renewable Natural Gas, RNG) when added to anaerobic digestors (CO2e/MJ), or electricity via turbines or IC engines or turbines, (CO2e/kWh).  How do biochar systems that recover heat, electricity, or transportation fuels like RNG, compare with other renewable fuels like biomass energy, biodiesel, grain ethanol or cellulosic ethanol? How does that vary as we increase carbon recovery and reduce energy co-products?

 

Tom

 

 



--
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
 

Ian, Bob,

 

Thanks for your comments. The objective is to provide some benchmarks and possibly some targets for different biochar projects.

 

I am looking for a range and average for technologies, systems, products and applications. If an LCA gives us a value of 2.5 tonnes CO2/tonne biochar for a given product what is the range of values from other products? What should people expect from different technologies, with our without recovery of the heat or liquid carbon products? We probably don’t have enough data to estimate to incremental carbon sequestration from increased growth although we may be able to record an increase in the flow of soil organic carbon for a particular crop, soil and circumstance. We also need to specify the basis of the assessment as you have stated.

 

Thanks

 

Tom  

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Bob Wells
Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 8:03 AM
To: main@biochar.groups.io
Cc: biochar@groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] GHG Targets for Biochar Processes

 

    That's a tough question Tom. First of all, are you asking for yourself, to inspire a conversation, or to be able to establish a system to be applied within the industry?  Also, are you talking about Cradle To Cradle or Life Cycle Analysis?  They aren't really the same thing.

    I started crunching the numbers years ago in hope of being able to generate a real number that I could actually attach to some of my products as a marketing tool.  We all brag about sequestering carbon but I wanted to know exactly how much.  Not feeling sure enough about my own numbers to actually publish them, I later hired a team of academics to give me an LCA for our production system and for biochar made using our system.   After they used all their PHD brainpower and fancy european LCA software, I was encouraged when they came up with very similar numbers as I did myself.  What I mostly learned through the whole exercise is how intensely complex the CO2 questions are and how difficult it is to get down to comparing apples with apples.  There are so many variables, and you have to make so many assumptions along the way, that I would find it difficult to trust the numbers coming from multiple sources.  It's kind of like getting one of those dna tests done to tell you where your ancestors came from.  Recently identical twins got reports from the same company of coming from different populations.  

    I sympathize with your position and perspective of pretty much representing a whole industry to the rest of the world. And I'm sure that as an engineer you are expected to be able to answer these questions.  In my humble opinion, even though I actually believe my system to be more efficient in energy than any other that I have seen, and therefore stands to gain the most by stringent comparison, I recommend that any system of comparing be kept as simple as possible for the following reasons;  1)  We simple people need to be able to understand and believe it.  2) We simple people need to be able to actually use it without having to hire a team of engineers.  3) It will easily be verifiable by peers without much trouble so that fakers can be called out.  4) It will apply to all scales of systems equally.  (Remember that the little and medium scale folks matter too.)

    That being said, I don't know how any simple comparison can be made.  My own system A) Makes perfect biochar  B) Collects and uses the excess process heat to heat my house and greenhouse with hydronics to offset the electric house heating system and/or dry incoming feedstock C) Produces huge amounts of wood vinegar for agriculture D) Produces tar and oil that can be used as fuel but I prefer to use it as paving materials.  E) Is proven capable of making electricity but it is not cost effective at this time.

    How can I begin to compare all that from a perspective of GHG equivalents and (CO2e/kWh)?  Perhaps I have to resign myself to waiting for a PHD paper to surface or I need to hire an engineering firm like yours to compute out the actual numbers as best they can.  A big industrial system would have a much easier time figuring out these numbers.  However I am still convinced that it is the distributed model that is going to have a lasting effect on the biochar industry.

 

    I have to now ask, if there is a known potential for using the energy from the process and we give it a number, do we then have to subtract that number from processors like the air burners that don't use any of the energy?

 

    It's always been on my mind that there are two main sources of biochar.  The first are the people who make energy and have a little really poor grade biochar left as a co-product.  The second group are the people who make biochar and have some energy left over that they should figure out how to use.  The first group is making use of something that they used to landfill in order to claim some GHG credit and have someone haul it away for them.  The biochar makers in general, with some exceptions, don't seem as quick to make use of their co-products.  

 

Bob Wells

 

On Sat, Sep 12, 2020 at 1:45 PM Tom Miles <tmiles@...> wrote:

What GHG targets should we set for biochars?

 

According to “cradle to cradle” life cycle assessments the carbon sequestration potential for most biochar systems is about 2.5 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of biochar. How do offsets from energy recovery impact the GHG potential? GHG impact of fuels are often expressed in terms of the amount of energy produced, such as kg CO2e/MJ. Energy recovered from carbonization (~30%-50%) can be used for heat (thermal renewable energy credits, CO2e/MJ), enhanced gaseous fuel (Renewable Natural Gas, RNG) when added to anaerobic digestors (CO2e/MJ), or electricity via turbines or IC engines or turbines, (CO2e/kWh).  How do biochar systems that recover heat, electricity, or transportation fuels like RNG, compare with other renewable fuels like biomass energy, biodiesel, grain ethanol or cellulosic ethanol? How does that vary as we increase carbon recovery and reduce energy co-products?

 

Tom

 

 


 

--

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



Ian McChesney
 

Tom, Bob …

 

Understand the requirement for simple GHG metrics for biochar. In similar industries (renewables) these have been key to policy/public understanding and acceptance of innovation and change. The difficulty for biochar is that the context in which biochar is produced and used determines most of the relevant numbers $/t, $/tCO2, CO2/acre etc, not the product itself.

 

And the biochar tent has at least ‘four corners’. Bob describes two of these, the ‘Burners’ and the ‘Pyros’, but there also has to be space for the ‘TLUDs’ and the ‘Kontikis’ and possibly for others too. Linking numbers to ‘technology’ is potentially divisive, but from an engineering perspective there needs to be a ‘basis’  - t/yr, CO2/t, t/ha/yr etc - on which numbers can be generated.

 

PyCCS is an attempt to leapfrog this. Intuitively burying carbon is better than burning it. Nevertheless, communicating this in a LULCC / UNFCCC REDD+ paradigm and interpreting it for markets and investors still needs the these comparative numbers.

 

It is very easy to go round in circles on this one. Maybe we could start by agreeing that while 2.5t CO2/t biochar is the ‘right’ number to promote the use of biochar the delivery of this as a target will be different from each corner of the tent ? Some will be as high as 4, some will be less than 1.


Ian


James Mareck
 

This is a subject area I’ve been thinking about for a long time. 

A possible solution to ghg emissions from biochar production involves changing the process from partial combustion to more of a heat exchange process and relates to an old discussion on synergies between anaerobic digestion (AD) and biochar.

Back in May, 2017, this biochar group discussed (subject title: In-situ biogas upgrading during anaerobic digestion of food waste amended with walnut shell biochar at bench scale) synergies between AD and biochar.  Kathleen Draper did do the IBI webinar on this topic on Oct. 30, 2017.  I have finally finished writing the paper I mentioned then, and it involves biochar and synergies between AD, pyrolysis/gasification, and power-to-gas (electrolysis of water using renewable electricity) to produce methane or renewable natural gas (RNG).

Many people have talked about producing RNG from pyrolysis gases but, in my opinion, no scalable economic process has yet been proven.  If one uses the concepts in the green carbon webinar by Giulia Ravenni (Nov. 14, 2019) Application of char from wood gasification to producer gas upgrading you could get clean syngas (free of tars and condensable gases) and a lot of heat (syngas would be approx. 800°C) by adding a small amount of oxygen to pyrolysis gases.  That heat could be applied indirectly (heat exchange) to lignocellulosic biomass (wood) to produce biochar and new pyrolysis (producer) gases to be upgraded.  Clean syngas could be further upgraded to RNG using processes found in AD and hydrogen added from power-to-gas. 


While no proven, scalable, economic process for converting pyrolysis gases to RNG yet exists, I believe it is possible and my thoughts are in the attached pdf.  There is relatively little reference to biochar in the document, but thinking about biochar generated the ideas.




James Mareck
 

Forgot the attachment - now attached.

On Saturday, September 19, 2020, 12:54:51 PM CDT, James Mareck <jmareck@...> wrote:


This is a subject area I’ve been thinking about for a long time. 

A possible solution to ghg emissions from biochar production involves changing the process from partial combustion to more of a heat exchange process and relates to an old discussion on synergies between anaerobic digestion (AD) and biochar.

Back in May, 2017, this biochar group discussed (subject title: In-situ biogas upgrading during anaerobic digestion of food waste amended with walnut shell biochar at bench scale) synergies between AD and biochar.  Kathleen Draper did do the IBI webinar on this topic on Oct. 30, 2017.  I have finally finished writing the paper I mentioned then, and it involves biochar and synergies between AD, pyrolysis/gasification, and power-to-gas (electrolysis of water using renewable electricity) to produce methane or renewable natural gas (RNG).

Many people have talked about producing RNG from pyrolysis gases but, in my opinion, no scalable economic process has yet been proven.  If one uses the concepts in the green carbon webinar by Giulia Ravenni (Nov. 14, 2019) Application of char from wood gasification to producer gas upgrading you could get clean syngas (free of tars and condensable gases) and a lot of heat (syngas would be approx. 800°C) by adding a small amount of oxygen to pyrolysis gases.  That heat could be applied indirectly (heat exchange) to lignocellulosic biomass (wood) to produce biochar and new pyrolysis (producer) gases to be upgraded.  Clean syngas could be further upgraded to RNG using processes found in AD and hydrogen added from power-to-gas. 


While no proven, scalable, economic process for converting pyrolysis gases to RNG yet exists, I believe it is possible and my thoughts are in the attached pdf.  There is relatively little reference to biochar in the document, but thinking about biochar generated the ideas.




Paul S Anderson
 

Ian,

 

I respond to your statement:

 

“Maybe we could start by agreeing that while 2.5t CO2/t biochar is the ‘right’ number to promote the use of biochar the delivery of this as a target will be different from each corner of the tent ? Some will be as high as 4, some will be less than 1. “

 

By chemical weight, 1 unit of C (atomic wt. 12) would become part of 3.66 units of CO2 (wt = 12 + 2x16 = 44 ------ 44/12 = 3.666666)   (Most of  us know that.)    So any value above 3.67 is hard to imagine and should be challenged. 

 

3.0 t CO2 per 1 t of biochar would be 82%

2.5 t CO2 per 1 t of biochar would be 68% 

2.0     …        ……………..  would be 54%

1.5  ……………………….. would be 40%

1.0 ………………………….. would be 27%

0.5 ……………………………would be 14%

 

0.2  might cover the case of boiler fly ash IF it contained 5% carbon that is pure and stable.   The huge volume of ash from  boilers is what can add up to some significant amounts of carbon.   But is it biochar?   It is sequester-able carbon  that represents CO2 removed from the atmosphere by plants? 

 

There can be many variations of biochar.  Ian mentions “four corners of the tent” the covers the range of biochar production methods.   The variation in stable carbon content is in relation to the methods AND to the consistency of the processing with each method.  

 

“Burners” can produce a lot of ash and very little residual carbon

 

The rigorous pyrolysis devices including TLUDs can adhere to levels of 70 to 85% stable  carbon.

 

In devices that are flame-cap or retort technology, there is a constant risk that the desired high heat of pyrolysis did not reach all  of the biomass (as in thick pieces or biomass that was shielded by other biomass.)  Careful  operational control can avoid this problem, but errors are difficult to detect when  all  of output is black on the  outside.    Such pieces of “less than pyrolyzed” biomass will  contain  less of stable  carbon even though its weight is a higher percentage of the original  weight of the biomass.

 

Good biochar should probably have a content of FIXED carbon,   or RECALCITRANT carbon ,   or  STABLE carbon  of 70% to 85% of the dry weight of the charcoal (biochar).   The remaining percentage is some combination of ash (inert chemicals such as silica) and what is called  VOLATILE matter  or    MOBILE matter.    NOTE:  Volatile is a word borrowed from the analyses of coal which is destined to be burned and where heat is applied to drive it off.   But biochar (charcoal) that is in soil or a test tube at ambient temperatures can also lose some of this non-stable carbon through  1) dissolved in water and washed away    2)  eaten by microbes,  and   3) vaporization (being volatile to become a gas and  escape).   So Mobile is a better term than Volatile because biochar is going into soil where it will never again see temperature of even 100 deg C,  

 

If the “charcoal or bioichar” is heated to higher temperatures that drive off volatile materials, the Stable carbon percentage can go higher (to maybe 95%, but the ash is not being removed), but that would be called activated carbon, and not biochar.

 

Stable  carbon is quite pure, mainly as graphene sheets.  THAT STABLE carbon is what Ian was discussing.    2.5 t out of 3.66 t would be 68%.   We in the industry of biochar should not over-value or make false claims.   So that would be a nice, usually conservative number for us to use.   

 

If the char is known to have been poorly made or from a feedstock such as rice husks that are known to have high silica content, then some conversion number lower than 2.5 would be advisable to use.     

 

1.83 weight units of CO2 would be 50% of the maximum possible of 3.66 units.   If the stable carbon percentage is lower than that, it is debatable if it should be called biochar or even charcoal.

 

If you have not already seen it, or have forgotten, or if you want to reference something other than this email message, you can check out much of this info in the 2009 (Version 2, October 2009) document “All biochars are not created equal, and how to tell them apart”   by McLaughlin, Anderson, Shields and Reed.   Found at:

http://www.drtlud.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/All-Biochars-Version2-Oct2009.pdf  

 

Comments and corrections to the above are most welcome.

 

Paul

 

Doc / Dr TLUD / Paul S. Anderson, PhD --- Website:   www.drtlud.com

         Email:  psanders@...       Skype:   paultlud

         Phone:  Office: 309-452-7072    Mobile & WhatsApp: 309-531-4434

Exec. Dir. of Juntos Energy Solutions NFP    Go to: www.JuntosNFP.org 

Inventor of RoCC kilns for biochar and energy:  See  www.woodgas.com

Author of “A Capitalist Carol” (free digital copies at www.capitalism21.org)

         with pages 88 – 94 about solving the world crisis for clean cookstoves.

 

From: main@Biochar.groups.io <main@Biochar.groups.io> On Behalf Of Ian McChesney via groups.io
Sent: Saturday, September 19, 2020 12:11 AM
To: main@Biochar.groups.io
Subject: Re: [Biochar] GHG Targets for Biochar Processes

 

Tom, Bob …

 

Understand the requirement for simple GHG metrics for biochar. In similar industries (renewables) these have been key to policy/public understanding and acceptance of innovation and change. The difficulty for biochar is that the context in which biochar is produced and used determines most of the relevant numbers $/t, $/tCO2, CO2/acre etc, not the product itself.

 

And the biochar tent has at least ‘four corners’. Bob describes two of these, the ‘Burners’ and the ‘Pyros’, but there also has to be space for the ‘TLUDs’ and the ‘Kontikis’ and possibly for others too. Linking numbers to ‘technology’ is potentially divisive, but from an engineering perspective there needs to be a ‘basis’  - t/yr, CO2/t, t/ha/yr etc - on which numbers can be generated.

 

PyCCS is an attempt to leapfrog this. Intuitively burying carbon is better than burning it. Nevertheless, communicating this in a LULCC / UNFCCC REDD+ paradigm and interpreting it for markets and investors still needs the these comparative numbers.

 

It is very easy to go round in circles on this one. Maybe we could start by agreeing that while 2.5t CO2/t biochar is the ‘right’ number to promote the use of biochar the delivery of this as a target will be different from each corner of the tent ? Some will be as high as 4, some will be less than 1.


Ian


jeff waldon
 

Paul, you are absolutely correct.  We get higher numbers by including soil sequestration from our feedstock growth in addition to the soil sequestration from biochar application and avoided emissions from fossil fuel use as our systems are applied to replacing boilers that use fuel oil or propane.  I'm not including projected improvements in crop yield or projected reductions in fertilizer and pesticide use which would bump that 4 ton number even higher.  In the future I hope to have sufficient time and energy to research those topics more fully.

Jeff


Ron Larson
 

Jeff and. List:  adding Jim Amonette (response author) as a courtesy.

See. Inserts.

On Sep 21, 2020, at 6:22 AM, jeff waldon <jwaldon@...> wrote:

Paul, you are absolutely correct.  We get higher numbers by including soil sequestration from our feedstock growth
[RWL1:  Agreed.  If a forest is planted with the intent to coppice/pollard for biochar on a regular (annual?) basis, then that pre-pyrolysis carbon-negative period should also be attributable to the biochar.  If not to the biochar, why not?
And this need not be listed as 100 years of feedstock growth.  Sugar cane bagasse can be used in year 2 (?) for another 10 (?) years.

in addition to the soil sequestration from biochar application
[RWL2:  This is where most analysis stops - with a number like 2.5 (I prefer 3 as more likely in the future) t CO2/t biochar.

and avoided emissions from fossil fuel use as our systems are applied to replacing boilers that use fuel oil or propane.
[RWL3:   Or coal or natural gas.   It would be double counting to say this displaced carbon is carbon negative, but it is certainly carbon neutral and needs accounting.   The big difference is that the carbon negative biochar part has long lasting impact - and the fuel substitution part is a one time benefit (which is the reason for going above numbers like the ratio of 2.5 or 3 t CO2/ t biochar)..

  I'm not including projected improvements in crop yield
[RWL4:   But why not?  I think in many cases -  this is the biggest impact.  Note it also was ignored in the 2010 paper most quoted on this topic - by Woolf and Amonette.  I believe Jim would now not say that NPP can be ignored.
How big?  I think a possible future average increase in productivity is 50% (today at about 25%, with many reports of 400% increase) .  Just to pick one 50% example  this might be NPP going from from 2/3 kg C/sqm-yr to 1 kg C/sqm-yr if one applied 1 kg char (.8 kg C).  After 100 years that sqm has withdrawn an extra (biochar-generated) (100 yrs) x (1/3 kg C/yr x 1/2 kg char/ kg C x 0.8 kgC/kg char) = 100 yr x 0.133 kg C/yr = 13.3 kg C (per kg char).  This to be added to the first kg char/sqm.   I choose 1 kg/sqm because so many use an application rate of 10 t char/hectare - and they are the same application rate.  The ratio argument is independent of the application rate.

Of course plenty of assumptions to get a smaller number.  But we only have to exceed less than 10% of this 13.3 to be better than biochar’s principal comptitor:  BECCS.   BECCS probably also has about 80% sequ estration of its input biomass (and only works for super large electric power plants - and has negative (not positive) influence on NPP.

But there are offsetting positive possibilities as well.  What if all the assumed 50% increased NPP ( 1 sqm land assumed to now annually be removing 1/3 kg more C than previously) - and that 1/3 kg also converted to char and placed on new land.  The process converts from linear to exponential!

or projected reductions in fertilizer and pesticide use which would bump that 4 ton number even higher. 
[RWL5.  Again - I agree that some of this benefit should show up as a multiplier on the values of 2.5, 3, 4,… 13.3,…..?…..weight ratios of removed (negative) carbon dioxide to (initially placed) char.
These positive impacts are annually recurring for that assumed initial 1 kg char /sqm - so we must not assume this BIG advantage of biochar only in year 1.  And we can also add savings in irrigation costs and associated lowered CO2
And what else should be included?   Disease reduction?  Longer growing season?

In the future I hope to have sufficient time and energy to research those topics more fully.

[RWL6.  Me too.   Thanks Jeff.

The important point is that most analysts treat biochar identically to all the other CDR approaches - as a cost.  Biochar must be treated as an investment.  If not 100 years, what time period?  I don’t know of any. Diagram that makes the many multiplier points given above - except a weak one I used 10 years ago.  I’ll try to find a copy.

Ron



Jeff


Ron Larson
 

Jim et al

My apologies.  I should have checked your paper before repeating this inaccuracy.  

I’ll try to figure out how I got this wrong.  It may have been my coupling your paper with that from Pete Smith a few years ago - where I am pretty sure he did not include increased NPP.  And I think he was giving a lot of attention to your paper.  And his is now more quoted than yours.   (Smith paper at;  https://aura.abdn.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/2164/8270/Smith_Soils_Biochar_NETs_tables_figures_embedded_final.pdf?sequence=1)

This still leaves open the issue being discussed in this thread started by Tom Miles:  what is a good ratio for the average ratio of tonnes of CO2 (should be CO2e) that follows from production of one tonne of biochar.  So far the answers are 2.5, 3, 4 and my claim it is bigger than 10.  Your number (or range)?

Of course this also will dictate what the annual potential is - which I think is a good bit greater than 1 Gt C/yr.  Any new annual value from you?     What is the biggest hurdle to a large annual number?

Anything else I said below with which you would take exception?

Have you seen any simple figure which shows biochar as being an investment?

Ron

ps to all:  I consider Jim to have done (and continues to do) some of the best work on this topic.


On Sep 21, 2020, at 1:16 PM, Amonette, James E <jim.amonette@...> wrote:

Ron et al.,
 
I beg to differ with your characterization of Woolf et al. (2010) having ignored changes in NPP.  We included it, as shown by the blue arrow at the bottom of the attached figure.
 
Jim
 
 
 
 
From: Ronal Larson <rongretlarson@...> 
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2020 1:05 PM
To: main@biochar.groups.io; jeff.waldon <jeff.waldon@...>
Cc: Amonette, James E <jim.amonette@...>
Subject: Re: [Biochar] GHG Targets for Biochar Processes
 
Jeff and. List:  adding Jim Amonette (response author) as a courtesy.
 
              See. Inserts.


On Sep 21, 2020, at 6:22 AM, jeff waldon <jwaldon@...> wrote:
 
Paul, you are absolutely correct.  We get higher numbers by including soil sequestration from our feedstock growth
              [RWL1:  Agreed.  If a forest is planted with the intent to coppice/pollard for biochar on a regular (annual?) basis, then that pre-pyrolysis carbon-negative period should also be attributable to the biochar.  If not to the biochar, why not?
                           And this need not be listed as 100 years of feedstock growth.  Sugar cane bagasse can be used in year 2 (?) for another 10 (?) years.


in addition to the soil sequestration from biochar application
              [RWL2:  This is where most analysis stops - with a number like 2.5 (I prefer 3 as more likely in the future) t CO2/t biochar.


and avoided emissions from fossil fuel use as our systems are applied to replacing boilers that use fuel oil or propane.
              [RWL3:   Or coal or natural gas.   It would be double counting to say this displaced carbon is carbon negative, but it is certainly carbon neutral and needs accounting.   The big difference is that the carbon negative biochar part has long lasting impact - and the fuel substitution part is a one time benefit (which is the reason for going above numbers like the ratio of 2.5 or 3 t CO2/ t biochar)..
 
  I'm not including projected improvements in crop yield
              [RWL4:   But why not?  I think in many cases -  this is the biggest impact.  Note it also was ignored in the 2010 paper most quoted on this topic - by Woolf and Amonette.  I believe Jim would now not say that NPP can be ignored.
                           How big?  I think a possible future average increase in productivity is 50% (today at about 25%, with many reports of 400% increase) .  Just to pick one 50% example  this might be NPP going from from 2/3 kg C/sqm-yr to 1 kg C/sqm-yr if one applied 1 kg char (.8 kg C).  After 100 years that sqm has withdrawn an extra (biochar-generated) (100 yrs) x (1/3 kg C/yr x 1/2 kg char/ kg C x 0.8 kgC/kg char) = 100 yr x 0.133 kg C/yr = 13.3 kg C (per kg char).  This to be added to the first kg char/sqm.   I choose 1 kg/sqm because so many use an application rate of 10 t char/hectare - and they are the same application rate.  The ratio argument is independent of the application rate.
 
              Of course plenty of assumptions to get a smaller number.  But we only have to exceed less than 10% of this 13.3 to be better than biochar’s principal comptitor:  BECCS.   BECCS probably also has about 80% sequ estration of its input biomass (and only works for super large electric power plants - and has negative (not positive) influence on NPP.
 
              But there are offsetting positive possibilities as well.  What if all the assumed 50% increased NPP ( 1 sqm land assumed to now annually be removing 1/3 kg more C than previously) - and that 1/3 kg also converted to char and placed on new land.  The process converts from linear to exponential!


or projected reductions in fertilizer and pesticide use which would bump that 4 ton number even higher. 
              [RWL5.  Again - I agree that some of this benefit should show up as a multiplier on the values of 2.5, 3, 4,… 13.3,…..?…..weight ratios of removed (negative) carbon dioxide to (initially placed) char.
                           These positive impacts are annually recurring for that assumed initial 1 kg char /sqm - so we must not assume this BIG advantage of biochar only in year 1.  And we can also add savings in irrigation costs and associated lowered CO2
                           And what else should be included?   Disease reduction?  Longer growing season?
 
In the future I hope to have sufficient time and energy to research those topics more fully.
 
              [RWL6.  Me too.   Thanks Jeff.
 
              The important point is that most analysts treat biochar identically to all the other CDR approaches - as a cost.  Biochar must be treated as an investment.  If not 100 years, what time period?  I don’t know of any. Diagram that makes the many multiplier points given above - except a weak one I used 10 years ago.  I’ll try to find a copy.
 
Ron
 



Jeff 
 
<Fig_1_vr06_MSTP.jpg>


Ian McChesney
 

Tom and others ..........

CO2 tariffs - a ton of biochar from wood pyrolysis inevitably releases a ton of CO2. This means biochar is, at best, carbon neutral. Yes, 2.5t of CO2e have been sequestered, but 2.5t have also been added to atmospheric CO2. 


To the atmosphere, a ton of CO2 from plant carbon will be the same as a ton of CO2 from fossil carbon. If the capacity of the biosphere to recycle CO2 (eg. forests) is going down, then a tCO2 not released may be more important than a tCO2 sequestered.  


The ‘direct’ benefit of biochar to climate is mathematically 0 tCO2/tbiochar. What matters are the ‘indirect’ benefits which can prevent CO2 release in other ways.


Kontiki - the basic tariff is 0 unless that wood was going to be burnt anyway in which case a ton of CO2 ‘rescued’ is better than nothing, and it can be argued that ‘2.5’t should apply. If it wasn’t all going to be burnt then a lower tariff would apply, maybe 1.25. 


Burners - over-fuelling a boiler to produce a char by-product should not reduce (or increase) the amount of CO2 released for the same energy output. Any char produced here is CO2 free - the tariff should be 2.5t. (assuming that the extra wood used was going to be burnt anyway). 


Pyros - where pyro gas is converted in an efficient energy recovery system (eg. CHP) there could be a relative reduction in CO2 emissions. Pyrogas is higher in carbon than natural gas so it may be that the tariiff is less than 2.5, but it could be more than 2.5 in some circumstances.


TLUD - if a stove produces the same amount of cooking because it is more efficienct than a open fire it replaces then the biochar recovered is ‘free’. Not only that, but less CO2 is released. The carbon tariff here increases, maybe by 50% to 3.75. 

 

Mareck - if there is a fifth corner to the tent for ‘high tech’ biochar/RNG solutions then the carbon calculation is more complex. Where char enables more energy to be produced from hydrogen, than from carbon, the tariff could  be above 3.75.  


I am sure not all will agree - it depends on how you look at carbon balances - and further ‘indirect’ benefits could apply in all cases. 

Detailed calcs needed, but this is the basic range and hierarchy of GHG gains from biochar.

Ian


Brian Lewis
 

Ian.

Please explain your statement:

"CO2 tariffs - a ton of biochar from wood pyrolysis inevitably releases a ton of CO2."

On the face of it it seems that you are contradicting a complete school of thought that espouses biochar production as a carbon negative technology.

Thanks and regards

Brian Lewis
Chair,
Maccy Biochar
www.maccybiochar.com






----- Original Message -----
From:
main@Biochar.groups.io

To:
<main@Biochar.groups.io>
Cc:

Sent:
Fri, 25 Sep 2020 10:28:36 -0700
Subject:
Re: [Biochar] GHG Targets for Biochar Processes


Tom and others ..........

CO2 tariffs - a ton of biochar from wood pyrolysis inevitably releases a ton of CO2. This means biochar is, at best, carbon neutral. Yes, 2.5t of CO2e have been sequestered, but 2.5t have also been added to atmospheric CO2. 


To the atmosphere, a ton of CO2 from plant carbon will be the same as a ton of CO2 from fossil carbon. If the capacity of the biosphere to recycle CO2 (eg. forests) is going down, then a tCO2 not released may be more important than a tCO2 sequestered.  


The ‘direct’ benefit of biochar to climate is mathematically 0 tCO2/tbiochar. What matters are the ‘indirect’ benefits which can prevent CO2 release in other ways.


Kontiki - the basic tariff is 0 unless that wood was going to be burnt anyway in which case a ton of CO2 ‘rescued’ is better than nothing, and it can be argued that ‘2.5’t should apply. If it wasn’t all going to be burnt then a lower tariff would apply, maybe 1.25. 


Burners - over-fuelling a boiler to produce a char by-product should not reduce (or increase) the amount of CO2 released for the same energy output. Any char produced here is CO2 free - the tariff should be 2.5t. (assuming that the extra wood used was going to be burnt anyway). 


Pyros - where pyro gas is converted in an efficient energy recovery system (eg. CHP) there could be a relative reduction in CO2 emissions. Pyrogas is higher in carbon than natural gas so it may be that the tariiff is less than 2.5, but it could be more than 2.5 in some circumstances.


TLUD - if a stove produces the same amount of cooking because it is more efficienct than a open fire it replaces then the biochar recovered is ‘free’. Not only that, but less CO2 is released. The carbon tariff here increases, maybe by 50% to 3.75. 

 

Mareck - if there is a fifth corner to the tent for ‘high tech’ biochar/RNG solutions then the carbon calculation is more complex. Where char enables more energy to be produced from hydrogen, than from carbon, the tariff could  be above 3.75.  


I am sure not all will agree - it depends on how you look at carbon balances - and further ‘indirect’ benefits could apply in all cases. 

Detailed calcs needed, but this is the basic range and hierarchy of GHG gains from biochar.

Ian


Ian McChesney
 

Hi Brian, 


Yes, I can try - and the idea here is not to contradict, but to try and answer the question at the start of this string. Will there be different GHG targets for different biochars ? 


This is important because many providers and processors need access to carbon market payments to develop their biochar opportunities.


It is a given that three tons of dry wood in a reasonably efficient kiln/retort  will yield one ton of solid char and two tons liquid/gases and burning these co-products to gas will release one ton of CO2. The balance is water, ash etc. From a GHG perspective the production of 1 ton of biochar generates 1 ton of CO2.   

.  

The McKinsey presentation (‘Driving CO2 emissions …. ‘) puts this in a slightly different way, but it doesn’t really say that biochar reduces CO2 emissions sufficiently to be carbon negative. Without this statement it is more difficult to claim carbon payments from the GHG markets.

 

So my answer to the question is that some biochars will be worth 2.5t CO2, but others will have different values. Rather than letting the folks at McKinsey decide, or leave it to the GHG markets, we might want to come up with our own definitions.  


Does this help explain ...... ? Ian


Ian McChesney
 

On Sun, Sep 27, 2020 at 03:44 AM, Ian McChesney wrote:

Apologies, slip up with the numbers here .... and in the orginal post (apologies !) 
and burning these co-products to gas will release one ton of CO2. The balance is water, ash etc. From a GHG perspective the production of 1 ton of biochar generates 1 ton of CO2.   
should be ........    and burning these co-products to gas with ten+ tons of air will release around two and a half tons of carbon dioxide. From a GHG perspective the production of 1 ton of biochar generates 2.5t of CO2.


ALAN PAGE
 

If the processes described in this short video <https://stillnessinthestorm.com/2020/09/ocean-shutdown-is-accelerating-space-dust-s0-news-sep-20-2020-suspicious0bservers/> come to pass we will need all the CO2 production we can get and then some.

The biological production increase possible with the regular use of the complete biochar component added to soils may need to be combined with very local production of biochar in well controlled local settings to allow the capture of heat for very local uses (green house heating, CO2 addition to greenhouse atmosphere, basic char production, and heating of other facilities, gas production for more distant use, collection and reuse of nutrients before they leave the area in many different settings...).

Unfortunately the controllers of media and those who benefit most from conflict have used their control of fiscal resources to engineer the current technical possibilities to the point that we are mainly talking about making char in situations that blow off most of the benefits of char production that c(sh)ould be part of an effective local social structure. See this extensive research report on how these facets of political control have come together to control much of world governments and this particular discussion:
This is a very deep "rabbit hole" that has been developing over the past year but which goes back to the early 1900s, and is a significant (but still a small) part of our reclaiming our rightful capability of maintaining our local land fertility and productivity.

In the 1970s we had set up a forester training system on about 1000 acres in New England with the help of the Federal Land Bank and then Paul Volker came in and raised the interest rates to the point where all the good things were lost. It took me a long time to realize that there was much more to this than my own myopic situation of financial mistakes. There is a system called NESARA that is now apparently being released that was formed during the same time in response to those same entities fraudulent policies (the study of how this came about is another deep "rabbit hole"). Time will tell if this can become a functional part of a new environment.

In any case as the evidence for the slowing and eventual release of the massive amounts of cold fresh water now contained within the Beaufort gyre <https://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/> may be released into the extreme North Atlantic is developed we may have to work harder to make sure that the tools are available for our younger generation(s) to learn to cope with these new realities.
Alan C. Page, Ph.D., Research Forester - MA License #184
Green Diamond Systems
125 Blue Meadow Road
Belchertown, MA 01007

Phone: 413-323-4401
Cell: 413-883-9642

Sent with ProtonMail Secure Email.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

On Sunday, September 27, 2020 7:48 AM, Ian McChesney <ian.mcchesney@...> wrote:

On Sun, Sep 27, 2020 at 03:44 AM, Ian McChesney wrote:

Apologies, slip up with the numbers here .... and in the orginal post (apologies !) 

and burning these co-products to gas will release one ton of CO2. The balance is water, ash etc. From a GHG perspective the production of 1 ton of biochar generates 1 ton of CO2.   
should be ........    and burning these co-products to gas with ten+ tons of air will release around two and a half tons of carbon dioxide. From a GHG perspective the production of 1 ton of biochar generates 2.5t of CO2.