I'm trying to simplify my business due to all these supply chain issues emerging around the world.
The Kon-Tiki 'Essential' (KTE) is an affordable, supply chain hardened biochar kiln with for Carbon-negative 'regenerative' food and medicine production along with hundreds of other applications.
1. 1.2m rim diameter 3mm 'Redcor' HW350A inverse truncated cone (weathering and watertight) with flat bottom
2. 12mm cone reinforcement ring at cone rim with 50mm gap plus extra reinforcement at ground contact point during tipping/kiln emptying
3. 1.6mm 'Redcor' HW350A rolled 'quad heat shield' (weathering, 4 pieces for easy attachment & removal via pop riveted hooks) with 150mm height above the cone rim for safety, greater energy conservation, higher temperatures for higher surface area and toroidal convection loops for cleaner pyrolysis
4. 3 galvanised screw-in legs (2" diameter, 250mm length) screwed into bottom welded 2" 45 degree galvanised bends for smoother logistics from A to B, especially with multiple units, stable tipping to empty biochar after a burn and when not in use, adequate water drainage after rain along and inside the tipped cone
5. bottom heat shield, welded 12mm below the base with 12mm solid tube matrix and hollow thermocouple tube in between the cone bottom and heat shield, for greater energy conservation and thermal observation
There are many factors to consider when choosing the perfectly intregrated Kon-Tiki kiln for your needs. Water, agricultural resource input, tech/tools and their availability, skillsets, accessibility, cost and probably other factors too. There's always the 'Lu'au' pit but still faces similar constraints however this is probably the cheapest way to make small to medium batches of biochar but requires more labor, soil and is less ergonomic than the Kon-Tiki biochar kilns. No drain too. Could be an interesting option for Terra Preta making which I intend to test in the KTE. Ultimately, it depends on what you want to do with the biochar and how you integrate the biochar into your growing system(s). Every design choice is imperfect but I believe the KTE will cover most bases for small to medium scale biochar research and development and provide versatile hardware for the 'Charista' well into the future with very high quality weathering 'Redcor' steel and continual improvement of the biochar firmware integration with other system hardware eg. Zai pits, swales etc.
A diagram of 4 KTEs in a square for easy access and safe operation plus upward scalability from using just one 1.2m Kon-Tiki biochar kiln. The kilns can be operated at the same time or different times. Basically, a multi-core CPU that can scale 1 to 4 cores at a time for your biochar operation! A simplified system with no drain, pump and IBC for each unit, instead utilising a scalable dual IBC inoculation system that should be able to cover many microbe inoculation scenarios.
2 or 4 KTEs?
I'm selling 2 or 4 units @AUD$2700/unit.
2 KTE's (a 'Dual core of biochar') for AUD$5400 is a great entry point for 1 Charista if the feedstock is well prepared.
4 KTE's (a 'Quad core of biochar') would be perfect for 2 Charistas, running 2 kilns per Charista if the feedstock is well prepared. By my calculation, it's the best entry level price point (AUD$10,800) for medium-scale biochar production for a small settlement/biochar product business
For eg. in a product business, the following products could be made:
-BMC, for adding to soil or possibly direct seeding/planting
-pelletised BMC and Asparagopsis for livestock feed, chicken feed, dog feed, cat feed etc.
-pelletised BMC (eg.biochar and kelp) for perlite replacement in seedling and hydroponic systems
-BMC compost eg.with poultry manure, for agriculture, viticulture, agroforestry, horticulture etc.
In permaculture inspired 'ecovillages' with better access to resources, 4 KTEs at the centre of the village could be used to build out the growing systems with BMC and biochar possibly used in some building materials eg.charcrete, hempcharcrete etc. Construction of biochar water filtration systems is possible too. The list goes on...
4 KTE's is great value considering how expensive and complicated the larger kilns currently are which also require maintenance. There's no maintenance for the KTE as it is weatherproofed with the only moving parts being the quad heat shield which is very easy for most people to add and subtract to the kiln and the kiln itself when it's tipped over to empty the biochar and remaining water.
A 4 unit order is also best from a laser cutting and logistics point of view. I'm open to larger orders too but it depends on the workload of the fabricator for wait times before product delivery. Maybe we've almost beaten COVID-19 in some countries but large scale logistics in Australia is tight and increasingly expensive. Future upgrades of renewable energy for engines eg.Diesel to Hydrogen, Hydrogen, Hydrogen/Electric or Electric and Carbon neutral payloads will hopefully drive logistics costs down. One day logistics may even be Carbon negative with biochar solid state batteries and Carbon based perovskite PV panels.
Any number of 'Lu'au' biochar pits could work in a small village too with no access to steel fabrication.
In the above diagram, a biochar mineral complex (BMC) is produced by inoculating the biochar.
This approach solves the problem of 'hot charging' microbes in some cases but who knows how many use cases, some which will and some which won't survive the heat (depending on the microbes, eg.those found in cow urine seems to survive) in a recycling bottom quench drain system. However microbes can be sprayed onto biochar or the biochar can be co-composted for inoculation with Indigenous Micro-Organisms (IMOs)/added Non-Indigenous micro-organisms.
In this integrated design it is pump-free/drain-free (though unfortunately not plastic-free) and all of the inoculation using 'cold charging' can be done at the same time in one step with nutrient, mineral, microbe and fertiliser conservation and product savings.
The inoculation fluid from the first IBC is reclaimed and reused after inoculation by draining it from the first IBC into a 20 litre ss bucket and transferring it to a second IBC filled with biochar and vice versa. A top up of water and inoculation ingredients will be needed for every new inoculation. An additional benefit of reusing the inoculation water is the microbial populations will grow over time - unless of course you want a one-off inoculation, then you would have to clean the IBCs in between every inoculation with more work, more water and more IBC downtime - not what I would want to do
If more IBC capacity is needed then pairs of IBCs can be added to the system with geometrical scalabiity (including more KTEs as needed).
Some other variables to consider are:
-the time needed for 'effective' inoculation
-using unmilled/milled biochar for the inoculation
*unmilled will have less surface area for inoculation than milled biochar but won't potentially 'clog up' the internal mesh drain at the tap
-since every ingredient of inoculation has different dilution rates, an ideal ratio of the ingredients would need to be researched for possibly a single uniform liquid input eg.customised for a specific plant monoculture (or take an average result for a plant guild or polyculture) that could be premixed before adding at a single dilution rate to a measured amount of water added to the level of the top of the biochar in the IBC.
The inoculated biochar, if unmilled, could then be milled if needed for Permafert middens and other ingredients could be added to the middens eg. compost, manure, fungi, rock dust, earthworms, soldier fly larvae etc.
Alternatively, the midden step could be bypassed and 'no dig' 'Johnson-Su' compost bioreactors (possibly modded) could co-compost the BMC eg.50% with manure eg. poultry, with additional biomass if needed, then added directly to loam piles for permafert ready to go for swales or Zai pits (see latest RAS notes page) or tilled into conventional crop rows or something else.
The eventual goal is to make Kon-Tiki biochar kilns all around the country. I believe the key to success will be installing roughly USD20k fibre optic 1000W 2D laser cutter (as far as I know there are no Oz manufactured laser cutters), with possible Government subsidies, at small to medium sized fabricators in agricultural regional towns, possibly an industrial area in some cases. This would be good for making other machinery and parts too.
Note that StyleCNC offers spare parts for their laser cutters and are leaders in their field. Note that if it is assessed that the supply chain risk is too great for imported laser cutters, the sheet metal can also be cut with a plasma cutter (less parts but probably still imported) but will take more time, less energy efficient, less accurate eg.possible rough edges, which depends on the tech and cutter, and a plasma cutting skill set but affordable to many more fabricators. For eg, you could spend AUD$800 at Bunnings to get a plasma cutter - but would still need access to the other equipment eg. roller, welding gear, or use multiple fabricators which is less efficient.
The laser cutters could probably be powered from a standalone power bank with solar PV panels either ground mounted or on top of the workshop roof.
Here's a couple of links for further research:
Bluetti Power: https://www.bluettipower.com.au/
The KTE opens up the medium-scale biochar market for more punters wanting to enter the Biochar Revolution and produce the most future proof material on the Planet!
Please send me a message via the 'Contact' page and we can discuss what the best way is to move forward.