BBF 2013 Conference Speaker Biographies and Presentations

British Biochar Foundation 2013 Speaker Biographies and Presentations

Mat Davis
Technical Advisor Soil Protection
Environment Agency

Draft Position Statement 

Mat leads the National Soil Protection and Biowaste Use team within the Environment Agency. Responsibilities include supporting delivery of the regulatory mechanisms covering the beneficial recovery of materials to land. Previously Mat worked as a consultant for Hunting Technical Services focussing on soil surveys, site investigations, land restoration and environmental monitoring schemes. Before that, Mat worked briefly with ADAS in their Soil Science & Agronomy department and on their experimental farms. Left University with a honours degree in Botany and a Masters in Pedology, Soil Survey and Land Evaluation.

Fiona Donaldson
National Operations Waste Unit
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Position Statement 

I originally trained as an Environmental Health Officer and moved to SEPA when it was formed in 1996. I worked in the Edinburgh and Midlothian area, focussing on waste management licensing, before moving to the Waste Policy Unit in 2006. This unit merged with a central waste function to form the National Operations Waste Unit in 2010. We have a wide remit covering all aspects of waste regulation from development of policy and strategy to implementation and training. My remit is waste management licensing and biowaste and I am also involved in Producer Responsibility for packaging, batteries and waste electrical equipment.

David Tompkins
Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)


Hans-Peter Schmidt
Director of the Delinat-Institut for Ecology and Climate Framing, Valais, Switzerland

A European view on biochar 

Hans-Peter Schmidt is director of the Delinat-Institut for Ecology and Climate Framing in Valais (Switzerland). With his institute he develops concepts for the remediation of agronomic ecosystems and carbon sequestration through agronomic methods. He works on the integration of renewable energy production into landscape design and on strategies to foster the biodiversity in cityscapes. His Delinat Institute is one of the leading research centres for the post production treatment and use of biochar. He is coordinating the European working group on biochar characterisation and is the main author of the European Biochar Certificate. The Delinat Institute is consultant to more than 100 European vineyards that follow its ecological guidelines and certification scheme. Hans-Peter Schmidt co-chairs the Biochar Science Network Switzerland. He is editor of the Ithaka Journal on Climate Farming and is lecturer in Urban Design at the Liechtenstein University.

Dr. Stephen Joseph
Visiting Professor, University of New South Wales, High street, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia
Vice Chairman, International Biochar Initiative

R&D Asia and Australia with Farmers on developing NPK fertilisers and synthetic Terra Preta.

Dr Stephen Joseph holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Metallurgical Engineering and a doctorate in Architecture and Applied Anthropology. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Energy, a chartered engineer and has been a senior adviser to both commercial, government and non-government organisations, in renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture and forestry.

Dr Joseph has extensive experience worldwide in all forms of renewable energy. He has developed processes and technologies that convert biomass into energy and value added products. These include including biodiesel, oil from algae, biomass combustion, pyrolysis and gasification plant, biochar, plastic wood composite, microhydro, wind and solar energy additives for high strength concretes. He has also developed combustion devices to burn very dilute volatile gases.

He has also been involved in multi-country market research into areas related to biochar, waste recycling and renewable energy. He has written over 100 books and articles and lectured and trained other engineers and scientists throughout the world. He was the founding vice chairman of the International Biochar Initiative and co-editor with Dr Johannes Lehmann of the first major publication on biochar.

He is now a visiting professor at the University of NSW, Nanjing Agricultural University and a Research fellow at the University of Newcastle and a director of a renewable energy and engine company in the UK. He has been the managing director of a renewable energy company for 23 years and a director of other renewable energy and biochar companies.

Dr. James Joyce
Managing Director, Black is Green Pty Ltd, Australia

A view from Australia

Dr. James Joyce is the Managing director of Black is Green Pty Ltd of Australia. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration. James has had a diverse career in process plant operations, design, research, technology commercialisation and consulting, spanning from the sugar cane processing industry and renewable energy sectors, through to coal and mineral processing.

Black is Green Pty Ltd., formed in 2009 by James and his father, is responsible for the development and commercialisation of the BiGchar technology. To date BiG has built 11 machines including prototypes, has operated then on more than two dozen sites and is currently involved in the commercial adoption of the technology in six countries, namely Australia, India, UK, Germany, US and Canada.

James is not only involved the roll out of biochar production technologies, but also the creation of a vertically integrated biomass to biochar retail businesses, under the banner of Black Earth Products. This gives James perhaps a unique insight into the technology and market trends, as well as the challenges of simultaneously creating a new technology and a market for the resulting products.

Sion Brackenhurst –
Director, Commons Vision
A Welsh view (coming soon)

Dr. Cécile Girardin
Post Doctoral Researcher, Ecosystem Science team, School of Geography and the Environment
Fellow, Oxford Martin School
Founding Director, Oxford Biochar
Principal Investigator, Big Biochar Experiment

Big Biochar Experiment 

Prior to working at the School of Geography, I completed an MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College, worked as a consultant for Environmental Resources Management, completed a PhD at Oxford University and worked as a consultant for the UN-REDD team of the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organisation. I combine years of experience in climate change policy analysis with a background in tropical ecology and thorough understanding of forest ecosystem functioning, providing a unique multidisciplinary approach to my work. Recently, I have been working with Vietnamese and Indonesian governments to help develop their National UN-REDD programme. My current research focuses on the ecosystem functioning and carbon dynamics of tropical forests in South America, Africa and South East Asia, and their responses to a rapidly changing climate. I am the coordinator of the Global Ecosystems Monitoring network.

Dr. Saran P. Sohi
Principal Investigator, Soil Science, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Crew Building, The King’s Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JN

Soil Science Overview

Saran is a lecturer in soil science at the University of Edinburgh and in 2009 co-founded the UK Biochar Research Centre. Although his research currently focuses on biochar, he has been studying the nature and value of organic matter in soil in general for more than a decade, initially with Rothamsted Research. Most of his more applied work draws on a basic understanding – both of soil organic matter and biochar – that has been gained from directed scientific work. The knowledge gained from this is therefore relevant to conventional and organic production, also to horticulture and agriculture, arable and livestock systems. He is a member of the Board of the International Biochar Initiative; he also established the first and longest running field experiment using biochar in the UK. As part of the KeySoil initiative he has also been involved in helping land users identify the pportunity for economic gain through the improvement of soil carbon status.

Dr. Cordner Peacocke, BEng (Hons.), PhD, AMIChemE
Director, Conversion and resource Evaluation Ltd
Expert Evaluator, European Commission

Technology Overview (coming soon)

Cordner Peacocke has a degree in chemical process engineering and a PhD in ablative pyrolysis of biomass, both from Aston University in the UK. Since 1996 he has been a Director of Conversion And Resource Evaluation Ltd., specialising in thermal conversion of biomass and wastes.  He has worked as an Independent Assessor to the UK DTI Technology Programme [now Department of Energy and Climate Change 2003-2006], and since 2000 as an expert to the European Commission DG XII, DG VI, DG-TREN, DG-ENERGY. He has also been involved with the Pyrolysis Network for Europe [PyNE] and  the International Energy Agency – Tasks 33 and 34. He has over 22 years working on all aspects pyrolysis and gasification from R&D to commercial scale equipment. He is an inventor on 2 patents and other ongoing patent applications and has over 50 publications, book chapters and co-author of 2 books on the properties of biomass-derived pyrolysis liquids.