The IBI webinar series connects participants to leaders in the biochar field, from business professionals to producers to academics, who present cutting-edge information, research and updates to our IBI membership. Each participant will have an opportunity to interact live with the presenter by submitting questions during the webinar, as time permits, for real-time responses.
You must be a dues-paying member to participate in these special events. (If you are not an IBI member and would like to join, please click here). If you are a member and are not able to attend the presentation, all presentions are posted for members to watch/listen to in the IBI Member's only area.
January 2016: Dr. David Laird, professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University (United States), discussed how complex biochar-by-soil-by-crop-by-climate-by-management interactions currently limit our ability to predict soil property and crop yield responses to biochar applications. This problem is further complicated by the diversity of biochar properties, which are highly dependent on both feedstock properties and pyrolysis/gasification conditions, and by the weathering (aging) of biochars in soil environments. In this webinar, Dr. Laird reported on progress being made by his group in understanding biochar diversity, biochar aging, and the complex interactions that influence soil and crop response to biochar applications. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
December 2015: Many of you have been asking to hear from a biochar producer—and this month, we brought one to you! IBI welcomed Jim Diebold of Community Power Corporation, to discuss his autonomous, air-blown, continuously operating, downdraft gasifier system that produces an IBI Certified Biochar from waste walnut shells, meeting all of the requirements of the IBI Certification Program Guidelines, Version 2.0. Due to the destruction of tars in the gasifier to extremely low levels, no liquid scrubbing of the producer gas is required before the gas is filtered and used to fuel spark-ignited, internal-combustion engines for the production of grid-quality electricity, with low CO, NOx, SOx, and VOC emissions that meet the strict requirements of the two local California Air Quality Management Districts. The feedstock used and the design and operation of this gasifier are responsible for the properties of his biochar. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
November 2015: Mr. Myles Gray presented Biochar for Stormwater Treatment: Technology Overview and Case Study Review. Mr. Gray discussed how biochar-based filtration is an emerging stormwater treatment approach and has generated significant interest among stormwater professionals, particularly for removal of dissolved contaminants including heavy metals. This presentation included: 1) a brief introduction to biochar science and its potential application in stormwater filtration; 2) biochar-specific design considerations for successful installations; and 3) a survey of stormwater treatment projects that have utilized biochar-based filtration with a focus on projects in the Pacific Northwest in the United States. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
October 2015: Dr. Stephen Joseph presented “Making biochar commercially viable for horticulture and animal feed. Case studies in China and Australia". Dr. Joseph outlined innovative companies that are commercializing biochar and presented case studies of farmers who are reaping profits from the biochar, while exploring how biochar is a growing industry in both China and Australia. In China, considerable support has been given to the development of the biochar industry whereas in Australia, the current government has not been supportive. In China, over 100,000 tonnes of biochar has been produced in the last year and a range of products are being sold where biochar is a minor component in either a chemical or organic product. Most of the biochar has been produced in either bio-energy plants or from more traditional charcoal kilns, although there are some companies offering equipment that only makes biochar. In Australia, although considerable research has been done, much of the production comes from either waste charcoal from a silicon smelting plant or from farm production. There are five companies who are offering equipment that make biochar ranging from a version of the KonTiki kiln to continuous pyrolyzers. One of the most exciting developments is the use of biochar as an animal feed and the burying of the biochar/dung using dung beetles. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
September 2015: Dr. Hailong Wang of Zhejiang A & F University in China presented “Using biochar for reducing the bioavailability of heavy metals in contaminated soils". Dr. Wang discussed how the contamination of soil with heavy metals is a concern in many parts of the world because of its potentially adverse effect on the ecosystem health and food safety. Typically, biochar is an alkaline material and has a large surface area. He highlighted how biochar can potentially be used to reduce the bioavailability of heavy metals in soils through adsorption using some case studies. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
August 2015: Hans-Peter Schmidt of the Ithaka Institute presented Farm scale biochar production, nutrient enhancement, and soil application techniques. In the presentation he discussed how biochar prices from industrial production are at levels that make its use in most agricultural settings economically non-viable, but this scenario changes when farmers produce - on farm - their own biochar from residues such as straw, husks, shrubs, cuttings, and prunings in smaller scale, low cost biochar kilns. He detailed how farmers can combine biochar production with on-farm waste management, biomass heat generation, and on-site organic fertilizer production, which is a major step towards a more circular economy in agriculture. Using Kon-Tiki type flame curtain pyrolysis systems, Mr. Schmidt highlighted how the cost per tonne of biochar could come down to below $150 compared to the current market price of €600 to €900 per tonne. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
July 2015: Dr. Annette Cowie of New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries, Australia, presented: Bringing biochar to the carbon market: the role of science. Dr. Cowie discussed the hurdles that must be overcome for biochar projects to enter carbon markets, and the role that science plays in supporting the development of methodologies for calculating credits. She described the generic requirements of carbon markets, and the challenges and prospects for biochar projects in meeting these requirements. Dr. Cowie is currently working on the development of a methodology for quantifying the climate change benefits of biochar from poultry litter, for application in emissions reduction projects under Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
June 2015: Josh Kearns, Director of Science for Aqueous Solutions presented Low-cost water treatment using biochar. Mr. Kearns discussed that although microbial pathogens typically represent the most immediate threat to human health, a wide variety of toxic organic chemicals—such as pesticides, pharmaceutical residues, industrial wastes, manufacturing additives, fuel compounds, and disinfection by-products—impact drinking water sources worldwide. In many rural, remote, and developing community circumstances, treatment using biochar adsorbent is an affordable and locally available option for the control of organic chemical contaminants. In this webinar, Mr. Kearns highlighted "low-tech" adsorbent biochar production from various feedstocks using small-scale devices such as gasifier cookstoves and drum ovens. He also covered guidelines for integrating biochar adsorption in small, multi-barrier treatment systems that address biological and chemical concerns for water quality. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
May 2015: Dr. Maria Luz Cayuela presented: When Biochar meets Nitrogen: exploring their interactions in the soil-atmosphere interface. Dr. Cayuela discussed the Nitrogen (N) cycle and how it has been modified since the beginning of the extensive use of mineral N fertilizers. She gave a general overview on past research related to biochar and its interaction with N in soil, and more specifically on N2O emissions. She explained the different experiments that her group in Spain, in collaboration with other scientists, has performed recently, aiming to understand if biochar could represent a viable option to mitigate N2O emissions in fertilized soils by unveiling the mechanisms behind this phenomenon. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
April 2015: IBI welcomed Dr. Sai Bhaskar Reddy Nakka of Geoecology Energy Organisation (GEO), India, to discuss the challenges of biochar sustainability in developing countries, where poverty, soil fertility management, food security, and ecological sustainability are important variables for biochar systems. Poor farmers in developing countries are most adversely affected by climate change, and semi-arid and arid lands with degraded soils are highly vulnerable. The sustainable production of biochar from various types of biomass needs to be explored without over-exploiting natural resources, and there is a need to adopt a definition of “biochar” broadly for these systems, including those biochars that are derived from diverse feedstocks.
Dr. Sai asserts that biochar is a means to improve the livelihoods of many communities in developing countries. The size of farmers’ fields, economics of biochar application (with and without subsidies), apart from other input costs, is a major concern. He believes biochar should not be considered an exclusive product; it should be integrated with multiple soil solutions for maximizing its value before finally being used as soil amendment. The use of biochar could be flexible for large scale adoption and also for local production by communities in developing countries. Dr. Sai is also the author of Biochar Culture. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
March 2015: In March, IBI welcomed Doug Phillips, Anna Carrucan, and David Warne, all of Greening Australia, to give a presentation titled, "Driving Positive Landscape Change with Biochar and Bioenergy”. The webinar explores how current funding pathways for addressing landscape biodiversity decline and land degradation fall significantly short of what is required due to the scale of the issue in Australia. They outlined the Biochar and Energy from Trees Research (BETR) project funded by the Alcoa Foundation and conducted by Greening Australia, which investigated the feasibility of integrating short rotation bioenergy plantations on farms in regional Australia using mixed native tree species to provide environmental and economic benefits. The project endeavored to take a holistic approach by recognizing that thermal bioenergy systems yield varying quantities of biochar which could be incorporated beneath tree plantations for productivity and carbon storage outcomes. In the future, commercial drivers that facilitate biodiversity net gain could greatly assist in achieving Greening Australia’s landscape restoration objectives along with traditional government and philanthropic funding pathways. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
February 2015: Jonah Levine, Manager at Confluence Energy LLC presents, Biochar Production and Utilization: Data, Photos and Opportunity for Real World Dialogue. Are you interested in getting an inside look at two different biochar production methods? On February 12, IBI welcomed Jonah Levine, Manager at Confluence Energy LLC, to give a presentation titled, "Biochar Production and Utilization: Data, Photos and Opportunity for Real World Dialogue”. This talk included two production examples: 1. a large integrated running plant that drives conversion with pyrolysis and delivers the gas to a heating application; and 2. a stand-alone carbon optimized gasification system that flares burned post-production gas. The presentation also included photos and data from reclamation applications in Colorado, USA. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
January 2015: Have you wondered how to get more favorable economics around biochar production? For our January webinar event, IBI enthusiastically welcomed Fraunhofer Umsicht leader Dr. Andreas Hornung to address this hot topic. Dr. Hornung gave a presentation titled, Combined Production of Biochar and Power, detailing how today, biochar is usually produced as a single product and therefore—especially if derived from wood—can be expensive. With the reaction system of Fraunhofer UMSICHT, it is possible to produce biochar from agricultural residues as well as digestate from biogas units, combined with the production of heat and power. Under European economic conditions, this system can lower the cost of biochar to almost 100 Euro/t of biochar. The financial return on investment is usually coming from savings for power and heat. The systems can be scaled between 30 kg/hour and 3t/hour. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
December 2014: Estufa Finca Project Director and co-founder of Seachar (Seattle Biochar Working Group), Art Donnelly, gave participants a brief introduction to the Estufa Finca project's 5-year history in Costa Rica, introducing biochar producing cook-stoves and participating in university-led biochar field trials. He highlighted the stove technology, the quantity and quality of biochar produced, the field trial results, and the biochar market-building work. After the presentation, Mr. Donnelly lead a Q&A session and discussed paths forward in terms of scaling up this approach of utilizing the biochar technology cluster as a carbon negative development strategy. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
November 2014: IBI welcomed researcher Dr. Isabel Lima of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) who presented on Biochar: The Smart Way to Clean Waste with Waste. This presentation focused on demonstrating the versatility of biochar beyond the most commonly known applications and attributes—as a remediation agent and a great potential tool for environmental cleanup. Dr. Lima highlighted the feasibility of converting various agricultural residues—with a focus on animal manures—into biochars and activated biochars for environmental remediation. These were contrasted with commercially available materials. Examples include uses in water, air and soil remediation, demonstrating the feasibility of these biochars to be tailor made to specific applications as well as the challenges associated with the feedstocks used to make the biochars. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
September 2014: On October 21, Dr. Johannes Lehmann, professor of soil biogeochemistry and soil fertility management Cornell University/IBI Board Chair, gave a presentation titled Managing diversity in biochar properties: from material properties to products, and discussed how biochars come in many “shapes and sizes”. The choice of feedstock and pyrolysis conditions dramatically changes the properties of biochars, whether it is pH value, ability to retain water, persistence in soil, or nutrient content. This can be an asset since soil constraints vary, but also a challenge when it comes to assessing suitable biochars for specific soil fertility issues and to communicating many potential values of biochar on a global scale. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.
August 2014: Our first webinar took place on August 12 with Steven McGreevy of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, Japan presenting Biochar in Japan: deep roots, cool landscapes. The webinar traced the long history of charcoal use in Japan, its use in agriculture and other industries, its linkages with resource and traditional landscape management, and its modern reincarnation as biochar. It highlighted a number of contemporary activities that feature biochar as a tool for sustainable rural revitalization, including the eco-branding of climate-friendly vegetables grown with biochar as COOL VEGE™. The future of biochar in Japan as a retro-innovative technology and some lessons from the Japanese biochar experience were also presented. To watch, please login to the IBI Member's only area.