Bio-Char Initiative

I would like some help from members if possible

Our non-profit Global Stewardship Foundation
is preparing a mission statement with the aim of raising the necessary finance
to get a bio-char and bio-energy operation underway in the valley here our research station is located

Our experiments show that 1 ton of raw alfalfa produces 500lbs of bio-char
what we need to know is how much KWH will be produced by the resultant conversion
the remaining 1500lbs of water vapor, oils and gases?

I am posting a partially completed draft of the initiative below
for those interested in how a damaged ecology can be saved
without halting current business operations
and getting richer while doing it

(If anybody is interested in helping to raise ecological awareness in a business-like manner
as well as raising the money to do so
via a business venture or government grant
you are more than welcome to join our effort as a partner)



Esmeralda County. Dyer, NV 89010

Fish Lake Valley is located midway up the western edge of the State of Nevada, bordering directly on the State of California

Largest self contained natural aquifer in the Great Desert Basin
Once a 400 square mile lake situated on the Pacific Flyway
as a stop-over for migrating flocks
Now a dry lake bed - 5000 ft elevation
bounded by the White Mountain Range elev. 14,200’
and Silver peak Range elev. 10,000
Geothermal potential (pilot wells produce steam at 300% F)

Population. 300

Economy. Solely reliant on spray irrigation alfalfa Farming
12,000 acres
Average yield 7 tons per acre = 84,000 tons per annum
Average price $150 per ton = $12,600,000 per annum

Operation costs:
Electricity (pumping) ?
Fertilizer ?
Pesticides ?
Machinery fuel/depreciation ?
Labor ?
Transport ?

Net profit ?

Ecological Impact
Irrigation using more water than supplied by yearly precipitation
Water table sinking yearly (currently 200 ft below surface)
Pesticide use poisoning natural ecology


Establish a commercial kiln capable of processing and converting the entire yearly alfalfa crop into bio-char
Establish an electrical power station fueled by bio-mass gasses released during the bio-char process
Sequestrate farming acres with carbon
Reduce water use by 30%
Reduce fertilizer use by 40%
Reduce pesticides 100% (weed content in alfalfa an advantage in producing more woody mass for bio-char processing)

Economic Feasibility

1 ton of alfalfa produces 500lbs of bio-char @ $2,00 per lb = $4000 per ton
1 ton of alfalfa produces 1500lbs of steam/bio-oil/nitrous gases = $ ?

Operation costs – Zero (released gases fire the kiln)

Gross Profit
Bio-char = $168,000,000
KWH output = $ ?

Ecological Impact
Increased profits will be used to put all farming under greenhouse cover, hereby recycling 90% of the water use

Well, your standard alfalfa has seven calories an ounce, so if you burned everything in it including what’s left over as char, then you’re looking at 32,000 ounces per ton, 224,000 calories per ton: … ies+to+kwh

So if you assume ten cents per kWh, you get 2.6 cents per ton…oh dear…$218,400 per year for the 84,000 tons.

Bzzt. Error. Like everything else you do.

Did you really need me to figure this out in five freakin’ minutes? Wow.

This is at odds with the fact that in our first experimental kiln
we have accumulated a 100lb barrel full of bio-char worth $270.00
after cooking 4x100lb bales of alfalfa worth $20.00
maybe if we take another look
it will have all evaporated into thin air
though i have heard it lasts for thousands of years when sequestered in the soil
but maybe the whole industry is wrong on that too

As to the energy released by the heated water/oils/gases
this is out of my field
but my common sense tells me
that if you heat 1500lbs of bio-mass past boiling point
you will get a shit-load of pressure
some estimates by the scientists involved in this new industry
are as much as eight times the amount needed to char it
we have yet to confirm that number ourselves

But anyhow
thanks for your kind input
maybe you should Google bio-char
and check your numbers again

As said to you many times before
I would appreciate it if you were not so rude
\there is no need for it

Let’s think about it this way…

Coal contains 192904 calories per ounce…that’s five orders of magnitude difference from alfalfa.

To get the same electrical production out of alfalfa from coal, you’d have to burn 30,000 times more by weight. We burn billions of pounds of the stuff a year…individual power plants can burn thousands if not millions of tons of coal to operate for a year.

You just can’t make that much power with alfalfa…in fact, energy production at all is not going to be economically feasible. I knew that just from my engineering judgement, but I thought some numbers would be nice.

Biochar will be relegated to much smaller operations than large-scale energy production. Maybe boiling tree sap for syrup or something. It’s just not that energy dense. Your article says 1MWH per ton…that’s just a lie. Coal’s only sitting at about 7 MWH per ton, and alfalfa is 30,000 times less energy-dense.

Haha! Speaking of “Bzzt, error,” I just made a major one! I just went to take a dump (where one naturally does their best thinking) and realized that I made a giant mistake. I thought the orders of magnitude seemed too extreme. I’ll explain my mistake here in a second; it’ll make biochar seem way more reasonable, but it’s still not going to be anything amazing.

Food calories are actually larger than a calorie. They’re actually kcal, so instead of alfalfa being 7 calories per ounce, they’re actually 7,000 calories per ounce.

That amounts to 0.2603 MWH per ton. Ten cents per KWH brings us to $2,184,000 per year for the 84,000 tons. But wait, anthem, you just said it was $218k per year in the quoted text? Yes…I multiplied wrong…that number was in cents, so it should be $2,184 per year.

Just don’t say I don’t own up to my mistakes.

Anywho, you won’t get that much out of it, though it’s drastically better than my original estimate. You need thirty times the alfalfa as coal for the same energy under ideal conditions, but there’s more to it than the energy density. Burning a plant is a lot harder than burning a plant that’s been nice enough to turn itself into fossil fuel.

Small scale energy production? Maybe…but you’ll be hard-pressed to break even on it.

Speaking of mistakes, your bio-char “profit” should be $84 million, not 168.

What are the production costs? They don’t seem to be factored in. Y’know…fuel to burn, transportation, stock, etc…

I am a lousy accountant
I have always disliked numbers as means for evaluation
I am excited by the concept
the money is icing on the cake
so what is a few dropped tens of millions between friends?
good thing this is just a rough draft

The fuel that fires the kiln/s
comes from the biomass itself
so no costs there
in fact we will be selling excess energy
the over-all profits are so massive in every way
especially environmentally
the rest of the productions costs will be incidental
I will leave it to the bean counters to figure that out

You keep thinking that.

Note from Erich Knight

Let me leave you with a laugh;

Part of my talk at ISU will be on the spiritual side, some tidbits below.
Since Carbon is life’s center, It amazed me that these iconic paraphrases basically wrote themselves;

[size=18]A Carbon Based Religion [/size]

The Terra Preta Prayer

Our Carbon who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name
By kingdom come, thy will be done, IN the Earth to make it Heaven.
It will give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our atmospheric trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against the Kyoto protocols
And lead us not into fossil fuel temptation, but deliver us from it’s evil
low as we walk through the valley of the shadow of Global Warming,
I will feel no evil, your Bio-fuels and fertile microbes will comfort me,
For thine is the fungal kingdom,
and the microbe power,
and the Sequestration Glory,
For ever and ever (well at least 2000 years)

Soil Carbon Commandments:

  1. Thou shalt not have any other Molecule before Me

  2. Thou shall not make wrongful use of the name of Biochar, It will not acquit anyone who mis-charactorizes it’s name

  3. Observe the Fallow days and keep them, as Sustainability commands thou

  4. Honor your Micro Flora & Fauna , as the Soil Carbon commands you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that High Soil Carbon has given you.

  5. Thou shall not murder the Soil Food Web

  6. Neither shall thou adulterate the Soils with Toxicity

  7. Neither shall thou steal Biomass from the Soil Food Web

Cool Neither shall thou bear false witness against your neighbors Biochar, or about Thy own

  1. Neither shall thou covet your neighbor’s Fertility

  2. Neither shall thou desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or Pyrolysis Reactor, or farm implements, or anything that belongs to your neighbor, as thou may Create thy Own

Soil Carbon Dream

I have a dream that one day we live in a nation where progress will not be judged by the production yields of our fields, but by the color of their soils and by the Carbon content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, a suite of earth sensing satellites will level the playing field, giving every farmer a full account of carbon he sequesters. That Soil Carbon is given as the final arbiter, the common currency, accountant and Judge of Stewardship on our lands.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made forest, the rough soils will be made fertile, and the crooked Carbon Marketeers will be made straight, and the glory of Soil Sequestration shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see a Mutually assured Sustainability.

This is our hope.

My apologies to Dr. King, but I think he would understand my passion