Another Run at Biochar in Millinocket Maine

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,012
Northern NH
Biochar seems to be the latest way to suck in investment dollars. Its a legitimate product but with SPACs desperate for green investments, biochar is ripe for startups to see if they can grab the golden ring and get merged with a SPAC. Instant millionaires on paper and then they need to figure out a way to actually commercialize it or lt least try to before they can sell off their shares. Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) Definition (investopedia.com)

There was a prior firm that was going for the biochar golden ring at Millinocket Mill. The only thing that project produced was lot of disappointments for the region, a big flat open site where mill buildings once stood and a big IRS lien. So the action now goes down the road to the East Millinocket site. Former East Millinocket paper mill site is about to get its 1st tenant (bangordailynews.com)

I looked up the company's website and lots of finance talent but not a lot of technical talent.

Biochar has been around for thousands of years. Its basically wood that has been heated without oxygen to drive off the volatiles. Its basically charcoal made of 98% carbon with inorganic ash mixed in with it. Dig a hole, dump the charcoal in the ground and its sequestered carbon. Of course when its pyrolyzed, there are emissions given off but they in theory are green and with some extra equipment some power can be generated. Mix it with some binders and it can make super pellet fuel with far higher BTU content. Add in some manure to the biochar and it becomes Terra Preta, the garden soil of the gods.

I always hope that someone will pull it off but to date there have not been any out of the park successes.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,962
SW Virginia
There is a biofuel production process that uses pyrolysis of biomass that also produces combustible biogas and biochar. The biogas can be used to fuel the pyrolysis process once initiated so the end products are basically biofuel and biochar.
This sounds great but there must be some challenges or else I'd think someone would be working hard to get this to an economically sustainable scale.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,012
Northern NH
Zilka Energy has been at it for several years. They have a plant but it seems to be up and down. They were using an old process that was used to make Masonite to make fuel pellets. There were a couple of European companies that were selling the technology but it only made sense in heavily subsidized markets.

The challenges are that the cheap chips are green out of the woods loaded with moisture. Moisture screws up pyrolysis so the chips need to be dried to near bone dry. That means a large chip dryer with source of heat. That also means VOC generation so the exhaust needs to be treated usually with a regenerative thermal oxidizer. Once the chips are dry there are several pyrolysis methods.The next problem is that the char needs to be cooled. That is not so easy as if air is used the very hot char will burst into flames. The char is hydroscopic so if it gets shipped it has to be in sealed containers unless pelletized and rhen coated with water proof coating. Yes there are off gases but the process is net energy user.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,564
South Puget Sound, WA
Biochar seems to do ok here. In the Pac NW there are several large-scale biochar producers. Besides being good for the soil, biochar is quite helpful for environmental remediation. Biofilters filled with char are quite effective at trapping metals like zinc which is toxic to fish like salmon. This is proving helpful in marinas where the majority of buildings have galvanized roofing. Biochar bags (long socks filled with char) have proven effective when used in swales that control urban stormwater runoff.
Biochar Supreme has been reasonably successful in our area. It was started many years ago by a scientist and her husband using plentiful NW timber industry waste to create their char. I have bought their char in bulk for a research project and it is a nice quality product.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,962
SW Virginia
Biochar seems to do ok here. In the Pac NW there are several large-scale biochar producers. Besides being good for the soil, biochar is quite helpful for environmental remediation. Biofilters filled with char are quite effective at trapping metals like zinc which is toxic to fish like salmon. This is proving helpful in marinas where the majority of buildings have galvanized roofing. Biochar bags (long socks filled with char) have proven effective when used in swales that control urban stormwater runoff.
Biochar Supreme has been reasonably successful in our area. It was started many years ago by a scientist and her husband using plentiful NW timber industry waste to create their char. I have bought their char in bulk for a research project and it is a nice quality product.
Thanks for posting this. The two documents you posted are useful to me for a project at work.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,012
Northern NH
VT has been trialing its use to collect run off from dairy operations. Once its done its Terra Preta.

One of my former clients was producing it as a byproduct of limitations with their equipment.They had firms lined up to haul it away. It apparently was very good for growing high value crops.

With respect to the attachments, I see Tom Miles fingerprints;) http://trmiles.com/. If you are going to mess with biochar, call him and save yourself a lot of trouble.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,962
SW Virginia
My work involves growing halophytes (salt-loving plants) in biochar-amended soils for the recovery of applied road salts.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,564
South Puget Sound, WA
Once its done its Terra Preta.
That's not quite accurate. What one has when char is soaked in manure tea is charged biochar. Terra Preta has aged for a long enough time to allow a very large amount of microbial occupation in the cellular structure of the biochar. Some are guessing that Terra Preta was made from midden heaps over a long enough time to build it up a meter or two deep. This is from when there were large populations in the ancient Amazon. Terra Preta can grow repeat crops with little sign of depletion, which is not true with manured biochar. The recipe is long lost, but it is presumed that colloidal humus was also added too. One might get closer to making the black soil by adding biochar to a compost heap that has humanure in it too. Let is cook and age for a year or two.

 
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