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April 2018 IBI Newsletter

Thu, 05/03/2018
Brian Schorr

- IBI Newsletter Editor: Robert Gillett

Recap of this Month's News

In this month's edition, there are many entries of news, ideas and trends that you won't want to miss, including:

  • Some ad space available on the new IBI website
  • Update on China's biochar program
  • ANZBI webinars coming up
  • U.S. companies taking on climate change despite Trump's abdication
  • June IBI webinar announcement
  • IBI's Science Committee pick-of-the-month (new feature)

Biochar related jobs, scholarships, and volunteer opportunities

The University of Wyoming has an undergraduate research internship available at SAREC, Goshen County Resource Center working in high tunnels, taking and analyzing data pertaining to soil amendments, including biochar and compost.  Student will have the opportunity to develop and present a research poster at the SAREC Field Day August 22nd.

A Vancouver-based IoT agtech startup, seeks a Lead Plant Scientist versed in biochar with at least a B.S. to lead research that would improve plant growth success and performance in their smart indoor gardening technology that allows anyone, anywhere to grow their own food in less time than traditional agriculture, with better flavour, more sustainability than even organic.

Enterprise Sales Manager with big box client account experience sought for a 100% organic, no tree-cutting biochar soil amendment company in Chicago.

Maintenance Technician team member needed to assist in the construction, assembly and operation of a pyrolysis reactor (large metal kiln) in Prairie City, Iowa to turn sawdust and agricultural wastes into biochar.  Requires experience with MIG welder, acetylene torch, metal band saw, multiple presses, plasma, shears and iron working.

Ph.D. Candidate will plan and evaluate biochar performance in a 36-month study beginning c. August 2018 at T.E. Laboratories Ltd., Tullow, Co. Carlow., Ireland under an Inspiration Marie Sklowska-Curie Innovative Training Network Early Stage Researcher Ph.D. Fellowship.

Two Post-Doctoral Candidates with Ph.D.'s in biochemistry, agronomy, or process engineering and having proven experience in the field of pyrolysis and pretreatment of biomass are sought for 2-year positions at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Benguerir, Morocco preparing, activating, characterizing and evaluating biochars.

CocoAsenso is a social enterprise working to increase incomes of coconut farmers in the Philippines by developing a network of efficient post-harvest processing facilities.  They are currently looking for an Engineering Intern (with stipend) who is willing to come to the Philippines to help develop an integrated coconut biomass energy system based around charcoal production with heat recovery along with a biochar coproduct and charcoal gasification to produce syngas.

Have you been looking for a unique way to make people who are interested in biochar aware of your business and support the international organization that supports biochar development at the same time?  IBI is rebuilding its website and we've made some space available on the home page and throughout the site to feature your advertisement!  Only a few spots are available, so sign up now for prime real estate on IBI's new website.  Options from $300-$3,500 are available.

Find out more here and sign up by contacting Brian Schorr at

Welcome to Our New Corporate Members

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


Oplandske Bioenergi AS delivers bioenergy (thermal energy) in the form of hot water or steam.  Our sustainable energy is based on the short travelled and CO2-neutral biomass from forestry and agriculture.

  • Oplandske takes care of the investments.
  • You as the customer pay only for the access to the bioenergy grid and energy delivered to your premises.
  • The price of energy is lower than the options from other energy sources.


Regional Briefs

People's Republic of China

Genxing Pan gives an update on China's biochar and biochar fertilizer markets in an 11-minute video interview by Stephen Joseph.

South Eastern Asia

Researchers from the National University of Singapore have found that sawdust biochar used in admixtures with concrete and mortar adds strength and impermeability, while saving on construction costs.

Western Asia

The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), the winner of the Best Arab Research Center at the Best Arab Awards in 2017, hosted a forum in the United Arab Emirates where the topic was identifying energy- and water-conserving solutions to growing food.  Since 2015, one of ICBA's research areas has been low-cost technology to make biochar from green waste such as the 0.6 million tonnes of green waste generated from some 40 million date palm trees every year.

Australia and The Pacific

Several key presenters have been listed for the 2nd Australia New Zealand Biochar Conference (ANZBC18) coming up in August.

The Australian Government runs Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) across all sectors of the economy and society.  The Soil CRC was formed in 2017 and includes in their purpose, "bridging a gap between soil scientists and farmers, we will ensure that soil performance is increased not just in the short term, but in the long term".  True to their aim, Soil CRC has become a Gold Sponsor of ANZBC18.

The Australia New Zealand Biochar Initiative (ANZBI) has several webinars scheduled:

Non-Members may register at the links above ($39 per webinar).  Webinars are free for ANZBI Members.

The All-Black Earth website includes several news links regarding biochar developments in New Zealand:

United States

While carbon offset project support has been on a downswing in the past few years, it could be making a comeback through programs of companies like Lyft and BP and institutions like The University of the South (Sewanee).  Not only corporations and institutions, but individuals are also able to pay for their atmospheric transgressions through third parties like Native Energy, which includes soil carbon projects and clean cookstoves in their portfolio.

Under a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant, the Umpqua Biochar Education Team, led by Kelpie Wilson, conducted field evaluations, over 3 years, ok making biochar and combining it with compost.  A full report of the project is available including the team's recommended best practices for: Making Flame Cap Kilns, Using a Flame Cap Kiln, Use of Biochar in Barns, and Use of Biochar in Compost.

Several major food companies are working to develop an international standard for regenerative agriculture certification.  Among these, Danone North America has budgeted $6 million to research soil health over the next 5 years.

A team from the University of Idaho has reached the pilot project of a $10 million prize competition to develop "a cost-effective process for recovering phosphorus while yielding clean water from natural water bodies on a globally-applicable scale."  Competing with 9 other teams at this stage, having bested over 200 other entrants, the Idahoans included a recoverable biochar component to collect phosphorus in their "Clean Water Machine".

Biochar was well received at the Biomass Carbonization and Torrefaction Summit in Atlanta, Georgia organized by Biomass Magazine and conducted by the U.S. Biochar Initiative under the leadership of Chairman Tom Miles.  The all-day workshop was attended by more than 130 people.  There was considerable interest in biochar throughout the ensuing four-day International Biomass Conference and Expo.

The Environmental Protection Agency has set a policy on the use of wood and other residues from managed forests in providing fuel for stationary power plants.  The memorandum begins with the following description of the benefits of forest biomass power:
"Specifically, forest biomass use for energy can bolster domestic energy production, provide jobs to rural communities, and promote environmental stewardship by improving soil and water quality, reducing wildfire risk, and helping to ensure our forests continue to remove carbon from the atmosphere." (emphasis added)
Of course, biochar manufacture and application can provide all these and more.  Declaring biomass power to be an inherently carbon-neutral use of natural resources, the new policy puts the practice on par with other renewable power sectors.  Whether or not all biomass power under this policy is actually carbon-neutral remains open to debate, and though many biomass power plants are already major sources of biocarbon for our industry, we hope that forward-looking companies will accelerate the shift to pyrolysis with a biochar coproduct as the push for carbon-negative solutions increases exponentially with Earth's climbing temperature.

Don't let anyone tell you that biochar isn't widely available.  You might even find it at Wal-Mart if you know what to look for.

Manylabs is a recently launched web aggregator for scientists and entrepreneurs with a current focus on carbon dioxide removal (CDR) systems.  There you can find events in your area as well as a host of resources to advance CDR efforts.

Illustrating biochar's incredible versatility, a four-story tall balloon kept inflated by solar heating was sent airborne to try to break the world record for hot air balloon altitude.  The solar-generated heat is held inside the thin balloon envelope by a biochar insulation layer.  Though unexpected turbulence limited the ascent to only 25,000 feet, the team hopes to retry in another year for the 100,000-foot record.


Capitalizing on more of biochar's varied applications, a new pyrolysis operation in Ontario sees an economic advantage for biochar as a green substitute for carbon black, currently used in rubber products, and in coatings, inks, and plastics.

Southern Asia

Charcoal as a detoxifier may seem strange to modern folk, but elephants never forget the cure that has aided them through millennia.

Upcoming Calendar Events

The 4th Biochar Malaysia Association Annual General Meeting and Biochar Technology Workshop 2018

May 14, 2018.  Fakulti Kejuruteraan, Universiti Putra Malaysia.  Includes Biochar Production, Pilot Plant Visit, Biochar Manufacturers-User Interaction

First International Conference on Negative CO2 Emissions

May 22-24, 2018.  Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Biochar warrants top billing in this conference.  A terrific opportunity to turn some heads.



Australia New Zealand Biochar Conference (ANZBC18)

14-16 August 2018.  Southern Cross University Gold Coast Campus, Bilinga, Qld, Australia.  An Initiative of biochar producers & growers from Australia and NZ



26th European Biomass Conference & Exhibition

EUBCE is a world leading event in the biomass sector, sharing the latest research results, latest developments and innovative bioenergy applications from industry and the policy context.  14-18 May 2018, Copenhagen, Denmark.

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


4th International Conference on Contaminated Land, Ecological Assessment and Remediation

August 16-18, 2018.  Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  One of the conference themes is biochar applications.



USBI Biochar 2018

August 20-23, 2018.  Wilmington, Delaware.  This year's theme: "The Carbon Link in Watershed Ecosystem Services"

Upcoming IBI Webinar

The next IBI biochar webinar topic is on land reclamation and biochar.  Speakers will be IBI Board member Suzanne Allaire, CEO of GECA Environnement in Quebec, Canada and former professor of soil physics applied to environmental science in agriculture and geotechnical at Laval University; and Chris Peltz, a scientist at Research Services in Colorado who has been using biochar for mine land reclamation for many years.  The webinar will be on June 5th at 12:00-1:30 pm ET.  Registration is free for IBI members and $40 for non-members and will be available soon!

Research News

One hundred-seventy journal articles are included in the latest monthly list of papers available on your IBI Member page, along with snippets from the abstracts,  Not an IBI member? Access to all the exclusive biochar research lists is just one more reason to join IBI and keep up with all the exciting developments.

Biochar literature pick of the month (comments by Bruno Glaser, IBI Science Committee)

Peng, X., Deng, Y., Yue, K. (2018): Effects of biochar addition on toxic element concentrations in plants: A meta-analysis. Sci. Total Environ. 616-617, 970-977.

It is very difficult to acquire representative knowledge on facts and myths about biochar reading individual scientific studies.  A statistical method known as 'meta-analysis' is used to analyze a large number of individual studies in an attempt to detect overall average behavior.  If applied properly, it can be a powerful way of aggregating information from a large number of individual studies.  Therefore, results of meta-analyses seem more representative for general statements and conclusions about biochar.

The meta-analysis of Peng et al. (2018) is a systematic evaluation of the effects of biochar on toxic element concentrations in plants.  For this purpose, the authors screened 97 articles with a total of 1813 individual observations.  They found that toxic element concentrations in plants were generally reduced when biochar was applied, independent of experiment type, biochar feedstocks and pyrolysis temperature.  Furthermore, Cd and Pb concentrations could be reduced more than Zn, Ni, Mn, Cr, Co and Cu.  However, anionic toxic elements such as As could not be reduced by biochar.  The authors concluded that biochar has a considerable ability to mitigate the transfer of toxic elements to food, thereby reducing the associated health risks.

International Biochar Initiative

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