When penning his stinging rebuke of biochar and all who support it, George Monbiot not only threw out the baby with the bath water but blew up the bathroom just to ensure no one ever considered bathing again. Admittedly he got in a few good blows but the rest just blows hot air.
Biochar is simply the charcoal that remains after burning any kind of biomass in a closed oven with limited or no oxygen (pyrolysis). The gases and oils that are emitted are either captured for energy production later or co-fired in the process, maximizing the output of heat. The heat can create steam to drive a turbine, or a Stirling engine, which converts heat into motion to generate electricity.
Biochar is an effective soil amendment because of its resistance to breaking down, its significant porosity, and its affinity for water and nutrients. Holding moisture and nutrients in the root zone typically increases plant growth.
With little in the way emissions because of closed-loop burning, biochar captures 50 percent of the carbon in feedstocks, and when put in soil holds carbon there for hundreds, even thousands of years. Since it also attracts and holds gases, biochar’s bee... Read more