Archive for October, 2010

Could barbecues help fight climate change?

October 28, 2010

Last week (21st October 2010) the following article “Could barbecues help fight climate change? was published in the Guardian newspaper. Here is our response:

“It is interesting to see the potential for biochar production in the USA although the scale of this is probably relatively insignificant. The production of charcoal is not large in developed countries compared to other fuels, for example in the UK it is 5000 tones per year. Assuming that 80% is C, then that is 0.8 x 5000 = 4000 tonnes C. That compares with an annual emission of c. 165 MTC or 0.0024%. However we do see this technology as having particular relevance, and at a much larger scale in developing countries. Biomass is used as a fuel (for cooking or heating) by over 2.4bn people, the majority in developing regions.

One other issue which is confusing in this article is the comparison of the heat from the production of biochar with burning charcoal, which is likely to be very different – burning the biochar its self is a more comparable heat source.

Biochar can be produced by a variety of technologies from large-scale industrial processes to charring kilns, but biochar production in cook stoves in developing regions, has received special attention for several reasons:
* Stoves can use waste biomass, which can not be burned well in many traditional stove designs.
* It reduces dependency on buying or making charcoal and increases self sufficiency – the biochar produced can also be used as a fuel in charcoal stoves, where required
* Indoor air pollution is reduced, because it is a more complete combustion process which provides benefits in particular for women and children who are typically present during cooking activities
* It is an efficient process, traditional stoves can use 3-6 times more fuel than gasification cook stoves
* The resultant biochar (around 25-30% conversion rate) can be used as a soil amendment, which can potentially create carbon finance

There are however risks and unknowns related to biochar production, the agricultural impacts, and the carbon storage potential, and these topics are currently being discussed in the e-workshop hosted on Hedon by the UK Biochar Research Centre and Appropriate Rural Technology Institue – India:”

Sarah Carter & Dr Simon Shackley


E-workshop – still chance to join us!

October 25, 2010

The E-workshop: Biochar; the potential in Asia Pacific? began today with 69 participants, and climbing!

There is still time to join, just register on Hedon, then sign-in and register for the workshop (

National Consultation on Biochar and Carbon Emission Reduction (INDIA)

October 25, 2010

*Organised by: Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI)*

ARTI India

*Supported by: UK Biochar Research Centre, University of Edinburgh, UK*
*The Society of Biochar Initiatives, India*

*Dates: November 22 & 23, 2010*

*Venue: Dr. Manibhai Desai Management Training Center, Bhartiya Agro
Industries Foundation, Dr. Manibhai Desai Nagar, National Highway No.4,
Warje, Pune 411 052. Ph: 020 25231661.*

*Funded by: Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research*

Biochar is a material high in black carbon produced from the thermal
decomposition of biomass through heating in a low- or zero-oxygen
environment and at relatively low temperatures (<700oC) (Lehmann, 2009). Biochar has the potential to address the key challenges to achieving sustainable development: namely, carbon emissions reduction, sustainable agriculture and land-use and waste management. Defining the circumstances and conditions in which biochar meets (or fails to meet) its ambitious aims, is critical in determining the potential role of biochar in the developing

Many scientific and socio-economic questions remain unanswered regarding the cost-effectiveness of biochar as a carbon mitigation option with agronomic benefits, in particular:
· What types of biomass are most suitable for conversion to biochar, using what conversion technologies, and what are the most cost-effective supplies of such biomass (taking account of local / regional competition for biomass and other constraints)?
· What is the permanency of elemental biochar carbon in different
soil types and conditions?
· What is the optimal balance between energy production and
biocharproduction in different contexts and assuming different values
for a tonne of carbon abatement?
· What are the agronomic benefits/disadvantages of biochar for a
range of crops, soil types and growing conditions?
· What explains the beneficial/harmful impacts of biochar upon
agronomic productivity?
· How does biochar addition influence fertiliser use and the fate of
existing organic carbon?
· What are the effects of biochar on N20 and CH4 emissions and on
nutrient run-off?
· What kind of policy initiatives and/or financial mechanisms will
be needed to support biochar production and use, if and where its use proves
to be beneficial?

Several scientists as well as policy researchers have been examining these issues all around the world, including individuals and groups in India. The consultation is aimed at bringing the researchers together on one platform for a broad discussion on the above and other related issues.

The consultation is being conducted as a part of the project Biochar for
Carbon Reduction, Sustainable Agriculture and Soil Management (*BIOCHARM*) funded by APNGCR and supported by UKBRC, UK.

There is no registration fee for the consultation and accommodation and local hospitality will be provided free of cost. The participants have to bear their own travel expenses. Partial travel assistance may be offered in exceptional cases, depending on the availability of the budget. Maximum 50 participants can be accommodated due to logistical limitations, and registration will be on first come, first served basis.

The participants will get an opportunity to give 15-20 min presentation on their own work related to biochar – field research and/or policy research as the case may be, and will be expected to actively participate full time in group discussions over the two days of the consultation. For interested participants, a field visit will be arranged to ARTI’s research station at Phaltan, Dist Satara, to see on-field demonstrations of biochar production techniques being developed by ARTI.

Last Date for Registration: November 1, 2010

Please leave a comment for more information and a registration form.

Installing a gasification unit

October 25, 2010

A visit was taken to the rice mill at the Nagathom fund (some of their out growers are also taking part in the biochar trials), where SME renewables are installing a gasification unit.

Reactor, ready for installation - Siem Reap, Cambodia

POMs recovered…

October 22, 2010

Today the POMs (passive sampling strips), were removed from the soil and from the area surrounding the gasifier. They were left in-situ for 4 months, and will undergo analysis in the next few weeks.

POMs were left in this run-off pond from the gasifier (wet discharge system)

Workshop Cambodia – announced

October 18, 2010

Workshop to be held in Cambodia –
22-23 November 2010
Some sponsorship for in-country delegates available.
Please get in touch to request a registration form.

For more information see:

Online workshop – registration open

October 18, 2010

Biochar; the potential in Asia Pacific?
Monday 24th – Friday 29th October 2010

Online workshop hosted by Appropriate Rural Technology Institue – India and the UK Biochar Research Centre, University of Edinburgh.

Please join us for an online discussion on biochar, covering technology, use and policy with a focus on the poverty alleviation potential of gasification cook stoves. Registration is now open (, and registration will close on Friday 22nd October. The workshop is suitable for project developers, cook stove producers and distributors, academics, policy makers and those with climate change / carbon offset interest.

This workshop is funded by the APN – the Asia Pacific Network for Climate Change (

For more information see:

Global warming Ganesh

October 18, 2010

The Ganesh (Ganpatti) festival is a Hindu festival which is particularly popular in the state of Maharashtra in India. Shrines to the elephant god Ganesh are set up in public places and worshipped for 11 days. Some of these shrines have a theme which is used to inform the public about an issue, for example public health. This year in Phaltan, one such shrine had the theme global warming, which included pictures of receeding snowlines on mountainous areas in India, and graphs depicting different temperature increase scenarios and resulting damage.

Global Warming Ganesh India

India cabbage update

October 18, 2010

The cabbages planted in ARTI – India continue to grow well (06.10.2010). The difference in pots can be visibly seen, however differences between treatments will be determined by the measurements at the end of the crop cycle.

Cabbages 06.10.2010 India

Online workshop – coming soon…

October 4, 2010

Online workshop: Biochar; the potential in Asia Pacific?
25-29th October 2010

For more information see the workshop webpage, where the link to sign up will be uploaded shortly

The theme for the workshop will be as follows –
25th October – Biochar in use
26th October – Biochar production techniques 1
27th October – Biochar production techniques 2
28th October – Biochar and poverty alleviation
29th October – Potential for carbon emissions reductions and carbon finance from biochar