A regenerative semi-arid growing system

So, I'm trying to simplify my business due to all these supply chain issues emerging around the world.

The Kon-Tiki 'Essential' is a more affordable, supply chain hardened biochar kiln with all the core functionality of the Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' for Carbon-negative 'regenerative' food and medicine production along with hundreds of other applications.

Here are the tech specs for the new Kon-Tiki 'Essential' biochar kiln:
-1.2m rim diameter 3mm 'Redcor' HW350A inverse truncated cone (weathering and watertight) with flat bottom
-12mm cone reinforcement ring at cone rim with 50mm gap plus extra reinforcement at ground contact point during tipping/kiln emptying
-1.6mm 'Redcor' CW300A 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
-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
-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

The initial price will be around AUD$2,400 - significantly cheaper than the KTR@$3200 - which is still a great alley cropper agroforestry kiln and more or less perfected after 3 prototypes.

 

The idea is the kiln cone is a kernel for the KTR but can also independently operate without a cradle (wheels and tipper).  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-scale biochar research and development and provide versatile hardware for the 'Charista' well into the future - weathering steel and as the biochar firmware integration with other system hardware eg. Zai pits and swales, improves.

 

 

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/

StyleCNC: https://www.stylecnc.com/fiber-laser-cutting-machine/fiber-laser-cutter.html

 

KTE as a biochar maker, firepit and outdoor sculpture - 3 in 1
The KTE makes biochar! The advantage of the top quench (for the KTE - no drain) is greater observed steam activation than bottom quenching, though it will use more water (which may not be such an issue for stationary use with an available and abundant stationary water source). Unmilled biochar, not inoculated and no additional ingredients, can be used for the integrated vertical core and bottom aquifer system (see latest RAS notes page) and the increased surface area will hold a lot of water for slow-release wicking into the soil/Permafert.
The additional surface area will also increase the effectiveness of 'cold charging' (see inoculation system below) and Permafert making in middens.
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The KTE should also make a great firepit and outdoor sculpture too!

 

The lower cost opens up the market for more punters wanting to enter the Biochar Revolution and produce the most future proof material on the planet!

 

This solves the problem of 'hot charging' microbes which probably can't survive the heat (though there may be research that contradicts this) in a recycling bottom quench drain system however microbes can be sprayed onto biochar or the biochar can be 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. If more IBC capacity is needed then pairs of IBCs can be added to the system with geometrical scaleabiity (including more KTEs as needed).

 

Some other variables to consider are:

-the time needed for 'effective' inoculation

-using unmilled/medium milled biochar for the inoculation

*unmilled will have less surface area for inoculation than medium milled but won't '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 could then be medium 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.

 

The Permafert can then be added to your growing system eg. Swales, circular Zai pits etc. along with unmilled biochar for the integrated vertical core and bottom aquifer system.