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October 2017 IBI Newsletter

Tue, 10/31/2017
Brian Schorr

- IBI Newsletter Editor: Robert Gillette

A Word from Our Chairman

It's been a busy time with conferences in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Nigeria, Taiwan, and the US; biochar workshops in many countries; the IBI Study Tour to Stockholm, a new IBI Science Committee; evolution of the African Biochar Partnership; and a stimulating series of webinars including the Stockholm biochar project, biochar analysis, markets, feed and anaerobic digestion.  In November, Dr. Johannes Lehmann will represent IBI at the UNFCCC Conference of the Partners (COP23) in Bonn.  The IBI board will participate in a biochar workshop in China courtesy of Nanjing Agricultural University.  In December Biomass Magazine will host a webinar "Boosting Bottom Lines with Biochar" with presentations by IBI members.

IBI is supported by volunteers and members.  We especially appreciate the contributions by Bob Gillette, who puts together the newsletter Kathleen Draper, who organizes the webinars and programs, and members from around the world.  We welcome new and existing members to extend your support as we begin a campaign to raise funds to improve our website, information and member services.  Join, donate, sponsor, and engage with IBI so that we can provide the information exchange to help expand the use of biochar. - Tom Miles

Biochar related jobs, scholarships, and volunteer opportunities

IBI Volunteer Opportunity: Fundraiser on the IBI Board of Directors
IBI is looking to appoint an experienced Board Member at Large that is interested in spearheading IBI's Fundraising efforts.  This person should have experience with identifying and obtaining grants related to agriculture, renewable energy and/or climate change on behalf of either non-profit or academic institutions.  No geographic preference is required, although a very strong capability in verbal and written English is necessary.  For those interested, please send a letter of interest as well as an outline of relevant experience to

The University of Texas at Austin Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor position in environmental engineering with a focus on "wastewater engineering in the 21st century."  Included in research areas of interest is biochar production from waste.  Applicants must have an earned Ph.D. degree in civil, environmental, or chemical engineering, or equivalent.

Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong is looking for a tree climber who will also operate biochar production machinery.  Must have 3 years post-qualification experience in tree work and be fluent in spoken and written Cantonese.

T.E. Laboratories, Ltd. of Tullow, County Carlow, Ireland is offering a young scientist an opportunity to enter a Ph.D. program through a fellowship that will involve evaluation of the performance of biochar and other potential media in mitigating soil and groundwater impacts from agriculture.  Candidates must have only limited research experience and must have resided principally outside Ireland for the past three years.

Photo Contest on Black Soils

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is conducting a contest in conjunction with world soil day (December 5).  Photos of extraordinary Black Soils and accompanying information must be submitted by November 13, 2017 to be eligible to win prizes (soil gadgets).  Among other criteria, winning soils should have a well-structured, dark coloured surface horizon due to their enrichment of high-quality humus down to a depth of more than 40 cm - mostly 60 to 80 cm.




Recap of IBI's inaugural biochar study tour in Stockholm, Sweden
By Kathleen Draper

The Stockholm Biochar Project hosted 44 participants from 12 countries for 2.5 days earlier this month.  Attendees visited the biochar production pilot site to see how the city's green waste is turned into biochar while feeding heat into the district heating system.  In addition, participants toured various urban tree and perennial planting sites to see how the use of structured soils and biochar is being implemented and saving the city money on storm water management.

Prior to nearly a full day of tours, participants heard from the project manager Mattias Gustafsson, and Stockholm's Tree Officer Bjorn Embren, about the history of the project and the successful use of biochar in urban landscaping projects since 2009.  Kare Gustafsson from Fortum Varme, spoke about the integration of heat produced during pyrolysis into the city's district heating system.  A discussion on Life Cycle Assessment and Climate Change as it relates to the use of biochar was reviewed by Cecelia Sundberg of KTH University.  We heard from another recently funded project in southern Sweden which will be converting agricultural residues into biochar and heat for the local district heating system.

To leverage the high caliber of various participants, many of whom have substantial experience with biochar production and/or sales, presentations on the following topics were provided.  (Many of these presentations have been uploaded onto the IBI Members Only Page.)

Biochar in Biowaste Management                                                            Aino Kainulainen, Finland, HSY

Carbon+ Project - a dawn for biochar in Norway                                   Eric Joner, Norway, NIBIO

Carbon Gold's Experiences in the Biochar Industry                             James MacPhail, United Kingdom, Carbon Gold

Carbon Credit System for Soils & the Challenging Biochar Market  Gerald Dunst, Austria, Sonnenerde

Gasification Technology from Italy                                                            Tomaso Bertoli, Italy, BiokW Srl

Finnish Carbonization Technology                                                           Sampo Tukiainen, Finland, CarboFex Oy

A Novel Biochar Production Technology                                                  Nando Breiter, Swizerland, CarbonZero

Feedback from participants has been very positive with many expressing an interest in replicating the Stockholm model in their home cities.  Based on the success of IBI's inaugural biochar study tour, plans are in the works to host more in the future.  Stay tuned for more details on 2018 tours!

New and Renewing IBI Corporate Members

Note: bios below were provided by members (or from website) and not authored by IBI

New: Masonry Heater Association of North America (MHA)

The Masonry Heater Association of North America is a non-profit organization formed more than 30 years ago.  Its current membership includes, but is not limited to: masons of all skill levels, chimney and hearth professionals, manufacturers, retailers, bakers, homeowners, and curious craftsmen.  The Masonry Heater Association of North America has members in every continent except for Africa and Antarctica.

The association's core mission goals, in no particular order, are to promote the industry, sponsor research and development, shape regulations and codes, inform and educate the public, and to further the expertise and professionalism of the membership.  These goals are pursued primarily through the designing, building, and testing of wood fueled heating, cooking, and baking appliances.  Many of these designs and their firing protocols can be adapted to maximize the production of charcoal, albeit on a small scale.

Producing charcoal and promoting its use as biochar from masonry heaters and wood fired cooking appliances offer a very good opportunity for the MHA to complement its core values and future objectives, not the least of which is to be relevant as a leader in the responsible use of wood as an energy source.


Renewing: Earth Systems Consulting

Earth Systems is a multidisciplinary science and engineering company, which develops and implements effective environment, water, bio-energy, and sustainability solutions throughout the world.  Established in 1993, we have successfully completed over 600 major projects in Australia, Asia, Africa, South America, North America, and the Pacific.

Earth Systems initially developed the CharMaker pyrolysis technology in 2000 and has over many years developed and refined this technology suite for large and commercial biochar solutions.  Our goal was to produce high quality biochar using a cost effective process with minimal smoke emissions.  Today we have machines operating in Australia and Asia, and with support from Cyclic Carbon and Green Man Char, we are one of the largest biochar producers in the Southern Hemisphere.

Our team is actively refining this technology to improve commercial and product outcomes while supporting research institutions in identifying uses and applications for biochar.  The benefits of this product have not yet been fully recognized in Australia, but we hope to introduce a number of industries to its potential.

We are very interested in collaborations with like-minded groups or individuals for further develop the biochar sector.

Regional Updates

Europe: A Conference entitled "Biochar: Production, Characterization, and Applications" was successfully held in Alba, Italy (August 20-25, 2017).  The conference, organized by Engineering Conferences International (ECI) and co-chaired by Franco Berruti, Raffaella Ocone and Ondrej Masek, attracted over 80 participants from 16 countries and 4 continents.  Details about the conference and the program are available here.  Most presentations will be published in the ECI Digital Archives (Open Access) while selected papers will be published in a special issue of Biomass & BioEnergy (Elsevier).

Skjaergaarden Nursery is an early adopter of biochar in Norway as the demonstration site for a 300 kg/hr biochar unit which has been installed in collaboration with the cross-disciplinary research project CAPTURE+.  The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) is one of the partners in the CAPTURE+ project, and is the organization with the longest track record in biochar research in Norway.


People's Republic of China: 2nd Global Soil Biodiversity Conference 2017 Biochar Session
By Genxing Pan

The 2nd Global Soil Biodiversity Conference was held in Nanjing, China on October 15-19, 2017.  The 3-day conference included a plenary morning session with keynote speeches, mostly from well-knowl soil biologists and concurrent afternoon sessions dedicated to modern issues of soil biodiversity.  Biochar from Soil Biota and Biodiversity was one of the 15 oral sessions held on October 18.  The biochar session took place in line with Soil Biogeography and cutting-edge methodology sessions.  Over 80 people, mostly young scientists from China filled the meeting room.

The session was co-chaired by Professor Genxing Pan from Nanjing Agricultural University and Professor Yakov Kuzayakov from Rudn University in Russia.  The session included 9 oral presentations; 4 from Germany, 5 from China and one each from Israel, Brazil, and Korea.  The main issues addressed includebiochar stability versus priming effect by soil microbes, short term effects of biochar on soil faunaand microbial communities, particularly soil nodularrhizobacter, decomposers, nitrifiers and pathogen and soil-borne diseases, as well as soil enzymes and plant disease tolerance.  Dr. Kuzayakov provided a deep examination of C stability from biochar with special relevance to priming effect by soil microbes exploring C sources under different nurition conditions.  Genxing Pan, on behalf of an Australian-Chinese cooperative team, highlighted biochar's effect on soil organic-mineral association which may cause novel micro-habitat for hot spots with redox regulation and biogeographical manipulation in rooted soils.  Most of the presentations introduced some new insights on biological improvements of soil-plant systems by biochar, mostly from crop residues.  There were friendly but active exchanges between senior and junior biochar scientists and between Chinese scientists and those from abroad.

With the growing interests in biochar and soil biology, Pedosphere, a China-based SCI-indexed journal would like to publish a special issue on biochar in relation to soil biology or on the bio-effects of soil-plant systems.  This will be discussed further in an IBI board meeting.  Contributions related to this theme would be welcome.

Contact: Dr. Genxing Pan via email at:

Taiwan: John Liu, Biochar Initiative of Taiwan, demonstrated small scale biochar production and use to groups of farmers throughout Taiwan.  Tom Miles, IBI, met John during a tour of workshops at universities where he discussed biochar and bioenergy.  The tour, courtesy of Top Recycle Electricity & Energy and the government of Taiwan, included a bioenergy workshop at the Department of Forestry, National Ching Hsing University, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the National University of Kaohsiung, the Green Energy Development Center at Feng Chia University, Taichung, the Industrial Technology Research Institute, Hsinchu, a wastewater treatment plant and pig and chicken farms.

Canada: CRIBIQ, a research consortium focused on industrial bio-processes innovation in Quebec, Canada, held the first biochar conference in Quebec on October 16-17 drawing nearly 80 participants from across the province and beyond.  Attendees heard from three international speakers; Mattias Gustafsson spoke about the Stockholm Biochar Project, Kathleen Draper spoke about how biochar can revitalize regional economies and the environment, and Oliver Lepez spoke about the BioGreen thermochemical process and technology.  Many regional biochar experts shared their experiences in the biochar industry and IBI Business Member, AirEx Energie toured participants through their impressive pyrolysis demonstration plant in Nicolet, Quebec.  The conference showed that the level of biochar interest and activitiy in Quebec is ramping up quickly.

Xylo-Carbone is receiving $1.5 million in funding from the Quebec Government to build a charcoal production plant that will co-produce biochar.  The $6.6 million plant is being constructed in the town of Saint-Tite, Quebec.  The company is looking for distributors for the North American and overseas markets.

Africa: This cound be the start of something big.  Starting in the smallest country on the continent, the African Biochar Partnership (ABP), currently under the leadership of IBI Board Member Bah Saho, has spawned it first national biochar network in The Gambia.  Consisting of stakeholders in energy, health, agriculture, forestry and environmental protection, among others, establishment of Biochar Network Gambia (BNG) implements a recommendation of the ABP set forth during its founding in March 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.  Because of the efforts of the leaders involved in this initiative, Gambians can look forward to more government and NGO support for cleaner and sustainable energy, healthier and safer cook stoves, reduced demand on wood for cooking, and enhanced agricultural productivity.

Working with scientists at Kenya's Egerton Univerity, the Nakuru Water and Sanitation Service Company (Nawassco) in Nakuru, Kenya is using sewage sludge as feedstock and applying the resultant biochar successfully in agricultural field trials as an organic fertilizer.  The company is seeking funds to scale up the production.

A new report from Black Earth Tanzania project partner Tembo Coffee Company, based in Mbeya, suggests plots treated with biochar displayed superior quality attributes to those that were not, while even demonstrating characteristics not typically found in the region.  Using the SCA scoring system, Tembo found that the coffees treated with biochar, on average, scored two points higher (83) than those that were not (81).

Biochar Initiative of Nigeria (BIN) held its third annual conference at the University of Ibadan with the these "Biochar for Climate Change Mitigation, Crop Production and Soil remediation for Sustainable Agriculture."

Former IBI board member John Van D Lewis, Terra Global Capital LLC, spoke at the Global Green Growth Institute's Green Growth Week 2017 in Addis Ababa.  Delegates toured farms that use biochar aided by Jimma University #GGWeek2017 #GreenGrowthInAfrica

United States: Scott Bros. Dairy of Moreno Valley, California and partner Steve McCorkle of Ag Waste Solutions won a prestigious Nutrient Recycling Challenge Award from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 for a state-of-the-art manure gasification system that co-produces diesel fuel and biochar.  The project made use of interim National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) standard 735 for ag waste gasification.  NRCS featured the priject on a recent #FridaysontheFarm.

Redwood City, California-based Bioforcetech, a member company of Italy's PE Group, is preparing to produce 600 tons/year of biochar from biosolids.

US Forest Service to award $7 million in grant applications for projects that expand wood products and wood energy markets.  The U.S. Forest Service website has the applications and all instructions to apply for two categories of grants (wood energy and wood products, e.g. biochar).  No basic research funding, but many other types of projects are allowed.  Applications may be submitted through January 22, 2018.

Did the Umpqua Biochar Education Team make char, out of those 40 slash piles? U BET they did!

American BioChar of Niles, Michigan has furnished Starfysh Mission with 8,000 pounds of a soil amendment that combines activated biochar with freshwater-sourced humates for work being done to improve agricultural outcomes in Haiti.

Resource Environmental Group Services (REGS), a subsidiary of Strategic Environmental & Energy Resources (SEER) has entered into an exclusive service contract with Biochar Now of Berthoud, Colorado in the water remediation market.  According to Biochar Now's CEO, James Gaspard, "in just a few weeks of joint marketing with SEER, Biochar Now has been able to identify and add millions of dollars to our product sales pipeline with companies that had already expressed interest in using our product after successful testing, but needed the fell-service solution offered by REGS to implement our product in their processes."

Clearing a forest to start a farm on an island in the San Juans of Washington, Kai Hoffman-Krull was led by Dr. Tom DeLuca of the University of Washington to try biochar.  After three years of trials, Kai has many good results to report, as he did in the latest issue of the Growing for Market newsletterRestore Char offers more information and high-quality videos on their website.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is supplying a grant to the Fall River Resource Conservation District's 2.8-MW Burney-Hat Creek Bioenergy Project is a proposed biomass energy plantin Shasta County, California that will utilize material from CalFire-designated high-hazard zones.  The modular plant will produce electricity, heat and biochar using gasification.  West Biofuels is the system integrator and and project developer.  The project is one of a cluster of three being planned for the intermountain region.

The CEC also recently awarded more than $1 million to the University of California, Davis for a project that will involve development of a forest wate-to-energy plant siting tool.  It will allow project managers to look at several factors, such as environmental impacts, transportation costs, and location of fire hazard severity zones when deciding on where  and how to develop a bioenergy power plant that converts woody biomass into electricity.  The tool is expected to decrease the predevelopment costs associated with siting bioenergy facilities.

Start-up company Green State Biochar of Barton, Vermont has been winning awards with their pitch for use of biochar in agriculture.  They manufacture, install, and monitor filtration systems that diminish nutrient runoff from identified sources and remove odors and algae from waterways.

The major fires in Northern California may have left behind some biochar, but along with it, heavy doses of combusion products that may harm the environment.

Upcoming Calendar Events

*SAVE THE DATE: USBI's Biochar 2018 has been scheduled for August 20-23, 2018 and will be hosted at the Chase Center in Wilmington, DE.  The proposed theme of the conference is "The Carbon Link in Watershed Ecosystem Services." Further details are forthcoming.

November December January +

Washington Organic Recycling Council (WORC) Annual Conference

"Bringing Soil Back to Life," November 14-15, 2017, Blaine, WA, U.S.A.




8th International Conference on Biofuels, Bioenergy & Bioeconomy

December 4-5, 2017, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Presentations from more than 30 countries and 100 organizations


4th Korea Biochar Research Center International Biochar Conference

SMART Biochar Technology: A Shifting Paradigm Towards Advanced Materials and Healthcare Research - part of BEEM 2018, June 10-13, 2018; Deadline for Abstract Submission: January 31, 2018

The 2nd China - Asian Biochar Workshop

November 18-21, 2017.  The theme of the workshop will be Biochar Production and Application for Green Agriculture-from Technology to Viable Systems.  The workshop is aimed to enhance a joint exchange and sharing of the biochar developments between China and Asian countries and beyond, and an access to novel biochar technologies and viable systems for safe recycling of bio-waste for green development.  The venue of this workshop will be the Hanyuan Hotel, Nanjing, China.  Further details on the workshop can be found here.

Free Webinar: Boosting the Bottom Line with Biochar

Biomass Magazine, December 7, 2:30-4:30 EST  Presentations by IBI biochar technology providers, and producers: Jim Brown, Karr Group; Jonah Levine, Confluence Energy; Tom Miles, IBI






First International Conference on Negative CO2 Emissions

May 22-24, 2018.  Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Abstracts accepted through December 1, 2017.  Biochar deserves top billing in this conference.  A teriffic opportunity to turn some heads.






Biochar Priduction, Characterization, and Environmental Applications session

Fall Conference of the American Geophysical Union, December 11-15, New Orleans, Louisiana.  Full conference details at:


If you are looking for the published papers listing that used to appear at the end of each newsletter, we are now sending an enhanced version out to members via separate email each month.  The number of published papers has outgrown our newsletter, but we still want to offer IBI members the benefit of receiving a list each month.  We hope this does not discourge any non-members from followiing the rapid progress of biochar research, but we feel it gives everyone one more reason to join and support the IBI.

IBI Newsletter Editor:
Robert Gillette

International Biochar Initiative
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