Theoretical-practical course ‘Biochar as part of MycoEconomy’

VolterraNews MycoRestore

On September 17th and 18th, the Carbón Vivo team organized a practical theoretical workshop in Mas Rajols de Tavertet, where the process of producing Biochar, a charcoal, was demonstrated.

As part of the MycoEconomía activities, Volterra bought a pyrolysis furnace. To inaugurate it, they invited Carbón Vivo, who have an expertise in Biochar, to organize a workshop.

During the morning of the first day, there was a practical workshop on the importance of the selection of biomass, the assembly of the furnace, the adequate entry of biomass into the oven, the transformation through pyrolysis and the subsequent addition of nutrient load. In the afternoon,  there was a theoretical part of what was practically demonstrated during the morning. Then, the allocation to Biochar’s more than 54 practical uses, among which are its use in animal farms under construction, water treatments etc. were elaborated upon.

On the second day, after 24 hours necessary for the Biochar to be loaded from micronutrients, the water was removed from the oven and reused as liquid fertiliser in surrounding crops. Subsequently, the Biochar was removed from the oven to be used in the compost and as a mixture in the substrate that is used for the inoculation of the mushrooms. Another part of the Biochar was incorporated as a thin layer in the forest floor surrounding the farm. All these applications were done in order to optimize natural resources and in an attempt to fight the causes of climate change.

Course attendees included members of the Carbón Vivo, Transfer Consultancy, Mycelio, Social Forest and Volterra team. Here we present a brief explanation of the course and then you can watch the video that summarizes the entire biochar production process.

Biochar is a charcoal produced by pyrolysis, thermal decomposition in the absence or limited presence of oxygen. Biochar should not be confused with the conventional charcoal whose destination is combustion.

Biochar is produced from biomass obtained in a sustainable way. This biomass is generated by absorbing atmospheric CO2. As the Biochar stores more than three times its weight in CO2, for every kilo of Biochar we are sequestering more than 3 kilos of CO2.

Biochar production steps:

  1. Selection of biomass by sizes and diameters. They are located near the oven.
  2. Preparation of the oven. The pieces are joined and the access of the water is verified to extinguish the fire and for safety reasons.
  3. Inserting the biomass into the oven. First, large and thick trunks are placed assembling a pyramid and finally thin trunks to start the fire.
  4. Initiation of the Pyrolysis process.
  5. Constant monitoring of the pyrolysis process, observing the flame and the color of the wood.
  6. The wood is added after the pyrolysis process is completed.
  7. Frequent temperature taking to control the heat and avoid the production of ash.
  8. Turn off the heat. Water is supplied from the bottom of the oven. In case the upper wood is turning ash then water must be added from the top. Coal is covered (about 400-600L of water).
  9. Allow the oven content to cool until it reaches less than 40°C. This temperature is important to avoid that the microorganisms that are going to be introduced do not die.
  10. Load the biochar with a mixture of microorganisms to enhance its benefits when using it in some of its more than 54 applications.
  11. Let rest for 24 to 48 hours. This period of time is necessary for the biochar to be loaded with micronutrients correctly.
  12. Remove the water to reuse during the next pyrolysis process or to irrigate crops as liquid fertilizer.
  13. Remove the biochar from the oven and let it dry for later transport.

The biochar is ready to be used in more than 54 applications.