Zoom Chat - Biochar as a Climate Solution with Jeff Thiel - April 11, 2021

Scott Henson
Scott Henson
Last updated 
All materials can be found here:

Questions asked during the presentation (all answered in the discussion which you can find on the Zoom call):
  • Chris Meinig: Can partially burned wildfire timber be used (dead standing)? 
  • Chris Meinig:  Are the numbers quoted for yield in in Year 1?
  • Denise Draper: Does biochar turn to CO2 in the soil?  At what rate?
  • James Little: These yield gains, is this with straight biochar or is the biochar innoculated with microbes?
  • Chris Meinig: are those#'s (referring to estimates Jeff created to give a sense of the opportunity) from peer reviewed science pubs?
  • Denise Draper: (In reference to a discussion on the need for coordination of research) Isn't that the USDA? (Or shouldn't it be?)
  • Don Parda: I heard Bill Gates is heavily invested in agriculture for environmental reasons. Is Bill Gates using biochar?
    • Shannon Markley: His approach to agriculture is all about biotech solutions and not regenerative agriculture.
  • Don Parda: Is biochar being marketed for home gardening?
  • Denise Draper: What is the state of other uses of biochar?  Any companies focusing on those?
  • Susan Olsen: What about use of biochar in more tropical regions (its original use) to offset droughts and climate change in Latin America. Many poor people use wood burning home stoves for cooking. Are there any efforts to substitute TLUDs (Top Lift-UpDraft gasifer)?
  • Denise Draper: Charcoal making has been traditional in many cultures.  How does the carbon footprint of that compare to this?
    • Anand: Denise, You might look at the Aprovecho Institute in Oregon, which has been making low-cost efficient cookstoves for Latin America for many years - I can’t remember whether they are working on biochar but you can find out
    • Denise Draper: Thank you Anand
    • Anand: Denise - You might look up a book called “The Biochar Solution” by Albert Bates.  He discusses charcoal making and stoves.
  • Shannon Markley: Jeff, is there a research institute or company interested in doing that form of biochar research that you were just describing , and related to that a way we could direct our financial investments?
  • Don Parda: Is there a simple explanation of the difference between biochar and regular charcoal? 

Resources Linked to in the Chat During our Discussion:
  • Scott Henson: For those that have not yet had a chance to look, here is the overview from the Project Drawdown team: https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/biochar-production
  • Scott Henson: Here is Ag Energy Solutions on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ag-energy-solutions-inc-/about/
  • Scott Henson: https://www.carbonfuture.earth. Carbonfuture gives businesses easy access to a powerful ecosystem of partners that realize our clean mission: Taking CO₂ out of the atmosphere and putting carbon back into the soil. Let that sink in for a moment.
  • Scott Henson: https://www.pivotbio.com/. Pivot Bio was born out of an ambition to replace synthetic nitrogen fertilizer with something more sustainable and safer for farmers to use. Its co-founders, Karsten Temme and Alvin Tamsir, developed a new crop nutrition solution and have built a company to provide sustainable solutions for farmers and improve the health of the planet through scientific innovation. We are inspired by the farmers we serve. All of us at Pivot Bio are focused on creating new solutions that makes farming more productive and farms more sustainable, so farmers can pass down their land to future generations.
  • Don Parda: NY Post article with details on huge agricultural acreage ownership by Bill Gates. https://nypost.com/2021/02/27/why-bill-gates-is-now-the-us-biggest-farmland-owner/
  • Anand: Denise, You might look at the Aprovecho Institute in Oregon, which has been making low-cost efficient cookstoves for Latin America for many years - I can’t remember whether they are working on biochar but you can find out.
  • Scott Henson: https://www.standardbiocarbon.comStandard Biocarbon is creating a Biochar industry in Maine. For over 100 years, the Great Northern Paper Company mill in East Millinocket, Maine was one of the largest paper mills in the world, processing nearly ½ million tons/year of wood into phone book paper. Today, Standard Biocarbon is reclaiming the shuttered 19th-century mill at the gateway to 17-million acres of working forests, to create a new carbon extraction industry. If returned to historic capacity, the site would remove over 350,000 tons/yr of atmospheric C02, create a useful product and anchor the regional economy.
    Scott Henson: Book Recommendation: "Burn: Igniting a New Carbon Drawdown Economy to End the Climate Crisis." https://www.amazon.com/Burn-Using-Fire-Cool-Earth/dp/1603587837
  • Scott Henson: Recommendation for a fun video on the burning of things like wood. Here is an Ecosia Link for what Bart just suggested: https://www.ecosia.org/search/?q=only+vapors+burn
    Only Vapors Burn: Clipped from the 1942 Film: The Chemistry of Fire
  • Scott Henson: https://carbonlogicus.com/. Carbon Logic exists as one line of products produced by Ag Energy Solutions, Inc. Over the past two years, the Carbon Logic product line has been developed with input from strategic partners in the Medical Marijuana industry to produce bigger better buds. As these products have become available, we are continuing work with scientists at Washington State University to create products for tomato crops. Research underway includes development of additional formulations for Grass Seed, Blueberries, and Hops.
  • Scott Henson: https://waltsorganic.com/. At Walt’s Organic Fertilizer Co., our mission is to provide our customers the highest quality organic garden products and services available.  Here is a link to their Black Owl Biochar product.
  • Scott Henson: https://www.seattleclimate.org/actions-strategies/governments.  This was sent regarding our session in a couple of weeks focused on the end of the 2021 legislative session.  This is one of many great resources managed by 43rd District  Democrats Environmental Caucus at https://www.seattleclimate.org/
  • Don Parda: Side note. For an opportunity to significantly and promptly (and at a cost saving) reduce your personal carbon footprint through less heating and cooling, check out https://greenbetween.home.blog/. No heating or cooling between 55F and 85F..