Disclaimer: As much as I love apptech, the technology itself shouldn't be that which takes over our lives. What's more important is that plenty of biochar is produced and integrated into the economies of the world so that over time we can eventually and safely drawdown Carbon out of the atmosphere and prevent or even reverse global climate heating and restore a safe climate. It's a climate emergency! The change to the environment that biochar could bring is partly known and partly unknown but the possibilities are endless and continually fascinate me!
I've summarised the above kilns and stoves according to biomass feedstock size. Note that my preference for biochar apptech is completely biased since I designed most of what I'm about to recommend (with a lot of help from my friends):
*Small feedstock eg. Pellets/sticks/coconut shell/corn cob/rice husk etc. - Try the '1G Toucan TLUD' or 'The 'Permastove V3' (beta - still need to prototype it) for cooking and biochar making
*Small to medium feedstock eg. large sticks, bamboo, small cut logs etc. - Try the 'Pyramid BBQ Classic' (3 in 1 BBQ, firepit, biochar making)
*Medium to large feedstock eg. Bamboo, brush, agroforestry waste, rice straw, small branches etc. - Try the Flat-Tiki 'Carbon' V3 (beta) or Kon-Tiki 1.2m production model - biomass 'waste' removal, biochar making, heat on a cold day
*Large feedstock eg. cut and split logs etc. - slow combustion stove/wood-fired Aga (I don't think I can improve/redesign these - quite refined tech) - produces small amounts of biochar but mostly ash (a good source of minerals and alkaline pH adjustment for acidic soils). Also good for space heating, heating water eg. wetbacking cogen for a solar hot water system, water pastuerisation, making a hot drink; slow cooking
Fenugreek (front) and Dill (back) seedlings using biochar in a fancy potting mix with sphagnum moss and peat. Note that biochar has a higher water holding capacity (WHC) than the original potting mix. Adding it increases the overall WHC. I also add a low concentration of Seasol and GoGo Juice to the irrigation water from my 15L weed sprayer backpack in order enhance root growth and potting mix microbial activity.
Can use microwave tech from Kiwis on biomass eg. agricultural waste, and produce a Graphene-like substance to replace expensive and less sustainable Graphene.
Closed loop for traditional farmers in SE Asia
Harvest bamboo/rice straw/rice husk-->chop up bamboo/dry bamboo/rice straw/rice husk feedstock-->cook taro on TLUD gasifier/cogeneration via biochar kiln->add the biochar to the animal feed (+ use biochar for water filtration)-->feed to water buffaloe/cow/pig-->livestock shits->take the manure/biochar complex and add to biodigester (biochar also reduces smell)-->collect the gas for cooking/electricity-->take the biodigester effluent/byproduct and add to soil-->grow the taro/rice/bamboo-->harvest (back to the start)
In the above flowchart, the barrels/IBCs just need basic plumbing connectors (similar to those used by Aqueous Solutions in their water filtration system). The first stage of the filter will have the highest concentration of salt and will need to be emptied once the output water reaches greater than 600 mg/Litre of salt (300-600 mg/Litre is the desirable salt concentration in potable water). Once position 1/stage 1 is emptied fresh biochar is added to the barrel/IBC and is rotated to position 3/third stage. Position 2/second stage becomes position 1/first stage and position 3/third stage becomes position 2/second stage. A 'TDS meter' can be used to measure the salt concentration. These are available for AUD$6.45 on eBay. Note that the unpowered measured irrigation controller (UMIC) can provide efficient irrigation according to evaporation and rainfall.
Competing water filtration technologies:
requires energy and doesn’t remove salts, pathogens and heavy metals
requires less energy than boiling and doesn’t remove salts, pathogens and heavy metals
requires less energy than boiling and pasteurisation and doesn’t remove salts, pathogens and heavy metals
-nanomembranes eg. the SolarBag
breaks down after 200 litres..more plastic in the environment
focused on salt removal
different membranes eg. plastic, graphene
focused on salt removal
need a large area and sunlight
-capacative deionisation (CDI)
expensive to commercialise
needs to be low-powered off car batteries in series to be affordable
-Aqueous Solutions barrel system
suitable for many places at the village level
-Permachar barrel system
doesn’t remove all pathogens
*A new system...the multi-stage barrel/bucket/container system to remove:
-persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
-herbicides eg. glyphosate
A scalable container water filtration system using gravity and CDI (if needed)
Why not clean up the waste of the industrial and post-industrial age with affordable and simple appropriate technology and provide clean water and enhanced food production?
-biomass from rice husk, sawdust, coffee pulp, bamboo waste (used to make textiles)...all dried then pelletised with a pelletiser machine
-biochar produced from the 'Permastove V3' (See 'TLUD (Top-Lit UpDraft) Stoves' page)
NOTE: A third cylinder increases pyrolysis temperature in central reactor/cylinder and resultant increase of surface area of the biochar compared to a cooler central reactor in the majority of 2-cylinder TLUD stove designs. The increased surface area is good for filtration as it can absorb more water and adsorb more pollutants.
-five 20l transparent HDPE #2 containers
-hole saw (electric drill with 2" hole saw fitting) for input holes on the containers
-stacked crates eg.plastic milk crates (4,3,2,1 = 10 in total), for support of 4 containers in a cascade for gravity feeding + 1 container to collect the filtered water at the end of the cascade
-electronic components for Capacitive Deionization (CDI)
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitive_deionization) plus see article under 'Desalination' above)
-a 12V AGM car battery, Goal Zero Guardian and Goal Zero Nomad 14/20W solar PV panel for CDI (can also be used for USB charging and in combination with the 12V 'Shurflow' pump on the Kon-tiki biochar kiln (see 'Kon-Tiki biochar kiln' page)
1-gravel – large solids
2-sand – medium solids
4-biochar with CDI – biochar electrodes/capacitors – salt removal, powered by a 12V car battery, Guardian and 14/20W PV solar panel. Add to the filtration system if the water is brackish, tested with a TDS meter (300-600 mg/Litre is the desirable salt concentration in potable water - any higher is unhealthy for human consumption)
-The spent biochar filtration media from stages 3 and 4 could be added to soil then phytoremediated using bamboo (see article below) or other plants based on location/climate/accumulator parameters. Filtered water could be used for irrigation (from a medium-scale system, 200 litre HDPE #2 barrels using the Aqueous Solutions design with a CDI stage at the last stage of the system if the water is brackish) if rainfall is insufficient to grow the plants
-The accumulator plants could then be pyrolysed in a Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' kiln (using filtered water for quenching and activation with additional product eg. liquid kelp)
-The biochar produced from the kiln could then be added to soil/Permafert to produce food plants with non-toxic levels of heavy metals (need to test plants for safe heavy metal level and confirmation of working filtration system) and irrigated, if necessary, from the medium-scale systems described above in series with a UMIC.
1-Build the system then test it with various input water samples of varying quality/composition and measure the variables in the output water
2-Possible Stage 3 water filtration. Selective exoelectrogenic bacteria that can remediate heavy metals and produce electricity (see article below). A biochar MFC – exoelectrogenic bacteria that breaks down/remediates POPs, heavy metals, pathogens et al and powers the CDI with ?excess power for USB charging (via a USB interface) (could potentially use salinity gradients in the MFC too - see article under 'Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs)' section) But - how to commercialise it or integrate it into cost-effective appropriate technology?
3-To what extent can biochar adsorb heavy metals using no bacteria and prevent them from leaching into the soil after the biochar has been used for water filtration and ended it's life cycle in the soil for plant production?
4-Are there better phytoremediation options for removing heavy metals from biochar rather than capturing the heavy metals at the MFC stage of water filtration? Eg. the third stage of the 4 stage filter could be naked biochar, and after removing heavy metals could be transferred to soil to grow accumulator plants selective for the heavy metals removed (after a biochar sample analysis), then harvested for biomass to use in the Kon-Tiki biochar kiln. There is evidence that suggests heavy metals found in plants are stable in the biochar after pyrolysis (see sewage sludge article below)
5-Could functionalised 3D nanostructures be added to the biochar that could then permanently lock in heavy metals permanently during the water filtration process? This could be tested by growing food plants in the used filtration media/biochar and watering the plants with the filtered water. The plants could then be tested for presence of the original heavy metals found in the unfiltered water...if non-toxic heavy metal levels are found over time in subsequent food crops, the 3D nanostructures would be found effective at long term heavy metal sequestration. But - how to commercialise it or integrate it into cost-effective appropriate technology?
6-'Multifunctional biochar' (see article below) But - how to commercialise it or integrate it into cost-effective appropriate technology?
Could hemp grow in the desert?
The idea I am proposing involves growing acacias, coppicing them, making biochar, creating a biochar fertiliser called Permafert (inc. Response), digging swales slightly off contour (to avoid 'wet feet'), adding the Permafert to the bottom of the swales, placing microdrippers along the top using the 'Measured Irrigation' system, growing hemp (using an appropriate cultivar) then using the hemp for more biochar, housing (using hempcrete and replacing the lime with biochar: 'hempcharcrete'), food (hemp seed, hemp protein, hemp oil), biodiesel (as a last resort) and many other uses. I would also like to trial biochar filtration for groundwater from a bore and investigate water quality as a result of the filtration - used for 'Measured Irrigation' of the hemp plants. Irrigate when the swales have a below optimal moisture content determined by swale cores and evaporation levels. Start with a 1 hectare trial. Anyone interested?
If you found this information useful, please share some money for further Permachar R & D. A recommended amount is AUD$10 - more if you feel really generous. Thanks!! Please use the link below...