BBF Conference Presentations and Videos
British Biochar Foundation 2014 Conference:
The Use and Economics of Biochar and Technology Demonstration Event
The annual conference is held by the BBF at Hawkwell house hotel in Oxford, England and aims to bring together people of all backgrounds and disciplines to try and integrate and develop the sustainable use of biochar in the United Kingdom. In 2014 the conference was held on the 7th and 8th of July with many interesting speakers from around the world and live technology demonstrations.
Speakers and Events
David Wayne, IBI (International Biochar initiative)
David is the board treasurer of the international biochar initiative. He delivered a talk on the state of the biochar industry in 2013 and the economics of biochar on a global scale. The talk
looked into the economic viability of biochar on a global scale. Where in the world is it most viable? And how can we reduce the cost? The IBI’s report concludes the biochar industry in still in a very early stage and large scale application of biochar in agriculture is yet to occur. For more information see: http://www.biochar-international.org/State_of_industry_2013
Chris Smithies, Earth Systems
Chris is an environmental scientist working for Earth Systems which is a leading environmental consultancy firm in Australia. They are developing technology to produce clean biochar from biomass on a large scale and can convert 6-9 tons of biomass into 0.8-1.6 tons of biochar. They want to be leaders in the novel biochar energy industry and have made some exciting developments. Chris gave an informative talk on the new technology being developed and its benefits (including woody waste disposal, beneficial primary and secondary products, carbon sequestration, energy output and low operation costs) and a live link via skype was set up to see the biochar producing unit in action which included their large computerised machine used to deal with approx. 8 tonnes at a time and monitored remotely. They are pursuing strategic partnerships in the UK and Europe.
Mike Weaver and Helmut Gerber, Pyreg
Pyreg is a leading biochar producing company in Europe based mainly in Germany. They use the process of pyrolysis to produce energy and biochar from waste biomass. The PYREG© machine can produce clean biochar on a large scale using a continuous feed system which is controlled electronically using mainly woodchip feedstock which is free. They are also interested in using waste paper sludge and municipal waste as feedstocks. A live skype link was set up allowing delegates to see the PYREG© machine and its components and allowing Helmut to explain the process. He showed how the heat produced in the pyrolysis is used to heat a nearby business. More information can be found here: http://www.pyreg.de/home-en.html
Darren Hopkins, Co-founder of the BBF
Darren gave a talk discussing the Biochar Quality Mandate (BQM) which the BBF now owns. The BQM will set out guidelines for the safe use of biochar in the UK. It is a voluntary accreditation system for biochar producers which will make certain that the biochar produced from different companies is safe both environmentally and with regard to health and safety. It will act as a guide to try and ensure that biochar produced in the UK is suitable for application to soils.
Dr Tony Yates, British Biochar Foundation and SLR Consulting
Tony delivered a talk looking at the environment agency’s position on biochar in the UK in previous years and at present. He also discussed biochar production and emissions and how these relate to the BQM accreditation system discussed by Darren Hopkins earlier in the day.
Fabian Stenzel, Fraunhoffer institute
Fabian gave a talk in the afternoon about the production of biochar, syn gas and CHP energy from anaerobic digestate.
Tuesday 8th of July
George Sosich, Super Stone Clean
This skype presentation from Japan gave us a detailed account of the super stone clean machine and all the products this company is making from waste materials including biochar for soil amendments and an array of other products. For more information on this forward thinking company go to http://superstoneclean.com/
Carbon Compost company, UK.
Gave a talk on the transportable retort that they make in the UK designed by Geoff Sell. The “Exeter retort” that can produce 200kg of biochar from 800kg of wood. Robin also explained how their company works with the Local donkey charity. Their “carbon compost is a mix of biochar and the manure from the donkey sanctury which they sell to the local area in Exeter.
Simon Manley, Carbon Gold
Simon gave a talk on their leading UK based company and explained how they can make a profit by importing charcoal from Namibia. They explained the barriers facing the biochar at present.
Sion Brockenbury, Commons Vision
They give an interesting talk on the use of sustainable biochar compost on degraded lands and presented results from their trials in Wales.
Keynote Address – Prof. Stephen Joseph.
This live skype talk gave us an interesting insight into biochar research across the world.
Outside Displays and Demonstrations
A number of demonstrations and displays were set up outside at the conference to show some of the biochar producing technology in action. This included a number of units ranging from a small scale cooking stove to larger community scale biochar production units.