“Energy market forecasts in the 1970s did not foresee the rapid development of gas-powered generation through integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plants and it is very possible that similar new energy options will arrive in future. An example of one such promising technology, Biochar….a charcoal-like material produced by heating biomass with minimal oxygen (pyrolysis)…Biochar systems need to be developed on a meaningful scale to determine better their true sequestration potential.”

Tony Blair, Former UK President


“If you could continually turn a lot of organic material into biochar, you could, over time, reverse the history of the last two hundred years.”

Prof. Bill McKibben, Middlebury College, Founder of 350.org

“[Biochar] has not only consequences for mitigating climate change, but also for agricultural sustainability, and could provide a strong incentive to reduce deforestation, especially in the tropics.”

Dr. Christoph Steiner, University of Geogria Biorefinery and Carbon Cycling Program

“Biochar has enormous potential. When scaled up, it can take out gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere.”

Dr. John Mathews, Macquarie University

“Foster pyrolysis based technologies in Australia. These technologies convert crop waste into fuel and charcoal (which can be used to enhance soil fertility and store carbon long term). Using this technology and natural gas, we should be independent of foreign oil imports by 2025. This will involve the development of much infrastructure in rural Australia.”

Dr. Tim Flannery, Macquarie University, Australian of the Year 2007, Author of “The Weathermakers”

“In other words, producing and applying bio-char to soil would not only dramatically improve soil and increase crop production, but also could provide a novel approach to establishing a significant, long-term sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide.”

Dr. Johannes Lehmann, Cornell University, Chairman of The International Biochar Initiative Board of Directors

“Carbon sequestration in soil also has significant potential. Biochar, produced in pyrolysis of residues from crops, forestry, and animal wastes, can be used to restore soil fertility while storing carbon for centuries to millennia. Biochar helps soil retain nutrients and fertilizers, reducing emissions of GHGs such as N2O. Replacing slash-and-burn agriculture with slash-and-char and use of agricultural and forestry wastes for biochar production could provide a CO2 drawdown of ~8 ppm or more in half a century.”

Dr. James Hansen, Columbia University, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies

james_lovelockeamonn-mccabe_camera-press“There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste – which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering – into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast.”

Dr. James Lovelock, Founder of “Gaia Theory”

“The potential to generate large quantities of carbon negative energy in a form that can replace petroleum-based liquid transportation fuels is a major advantage of [biochar production]. Extrapolating this strategy to a global scale coupled with substantial increases in energy use efficiency and greater use of nuclear and other non-CO2 generating energy sources, humanity could actually start decreasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Dr. David Laird, USDA National Soil Tilth Laboratory

“Much as the green revolution dramatically improved the developing world’s crops, terra preta could unleash what the scientific journal Nature has called a ‘black revolution’ across the broad arc of impoverished soil from Southeast Asia to Africa. Key to terra preta is charcoal, made by burning plants and refuse at low temperatures. In March a research team led by Christoph Steiner, then of the University of Bayreuth, reported that simply adding crumbled charcoal and condensed smoke to typically bad tropical soils caused an ‘exponential increase’ in the microbial population—kick-starting the underground ecosystem that is critical to fertility.”

National Geographic Magazine

“Researchers trying to replicate the fertility of terra preta have concluded that its secret is in the charcoal. Work by soil scientists like Laird, Johannes Lehmann of Cornell, and Mingxin Guo of Delaware State University suggests that the benefits of supplementing soil with charcoal – which they call ‘biochar’ to distinguish it from the fuel of backyard barbecues – could be dramatic, widespread, and durable.”

The Boston Globe

“The knowledge that we can gain from studying the Amazonian dark earths, found throughout the Amazon River region, not only teaches us how to restore degraded soils, triple crop yields and support a wide array of crops in regions with agriculturally poor soils, but also can lead to technologies to sequester carbon in soil and prevent critical changes in world climate.”

Dr. Johannes Lehmann, Cornell University, Chairman of The International Biochar Initiative Board of Directors

“Well these Terra Preta solutions are in some ways or certainly for some purposes are a better solution, a superior solution to anything that’s been brought up so far. What the process basically involves is taking any biological material, that could be crop waste or corn stalks or whatever, forestry waste, even human sewage, and partially burning it in the absence of oxygen so that you get a synthetic gas at one end of the process that you can then burn which is hydrogen rich, not so much carbon in it, but hydrogen rich, you can burn that for transport purposes or to generate electricity and at the other end of the process you get charcoal. And the great thing about charcoal is that it is a very stable form of carbon.”

Dr. Tim Flannery, Macquarie University, Australian of the Year 2007, Author of “The Weathermakers”

“It has been found that, with some soils and crops, productivity can be increased eight-fold. For the atmosphere that’s a treble whammy – fossil fuel left in the ground, stable biochar carbon in the soil, plus increased labile carbon bound up in the life-cycle of the greater weight of crops and their in-soil roots. Devoted researchers are working in developing countries to realize these benefits for indigenous communities, passing the treble whammy on to farmers on the ground…”

Dr. Peter Read, Massey University, International Biochar Initiative Board Member

“[F]inite reserves and rapidly increasing demand for oil will inevitably force world economies to abandon oil as the primary source of energy. No single solution to these challenges will likely ever be found; however, [biochar production offers a] vision for an integrated agricultural biomass–bioenergy system that could make a significant contribution to the solution to both [climate change and peak oil] and have the added benefits of enhancing soil and water quality.”

Dr. David Laird, USDA National Soil Tilth Laboratory

“With a one-off addition [of biochar], the soil quality appears to be permanently improved.”

Dr. Mingxin Guo, Delware State University

“Biochar can be used to address some of the most urgent environmental problems of our time—soil degradation, food insecurity, water pollution from agrichemicals, and climate change.”

Dr. Johannes Lehmann, Cornell University, Chairman of The International Biochar Initiative Board of Directors

“Not only has biochar the potential to raise high yield rates of corn another 20%, but we believe there is a real possibility the char trial could also result in evidence that could point the way to dramatic improvements in water quality, which could have far-reaching beneficial consequences.”

Dr. Lon Crosby, Farmer and Agricultural Consultant with Heartland BioEnergy

“Terra preta [biochar] moves us from dependency to empowerment, from depletion to abundance, and from destruction to renewal.”

Lou Gold

“Research consistently reveals that poor soils enriched with biochar grow bigger, stronger plants that yield higher crop quantity and quality.  Even better, soils retain nutrients and sustain their productivity better than soils without biochar.”

David Yarrow, Sea-Agri Inc.

“In a world suffering from briskly advancing population growth, skyrocketing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and consquential global warming, [biochar] could provide the largest significant double whammy to these problems.  Terra Preta soils could both help feed a growing world population and sequester gigatons of carbon directly out of the atmosphere and into logn term sequestration in the soil.”

Sean K. Barry, Troposphere-Energy

“Removing crop residues for bioenergy production reduces the organic matter accumulating on agricultural fields and thus the soil organic carbon pool, which depends on constant input of decomposing plant material. In contrast, pyrolysis with biochar carbon sequestration produces renewable energy, sequesters CO2 and cycles nutrients back into agricultural fields.”

Dr. Christoph Steiner, University of Georgia Biorefining and Carbon Cycling


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