[Market-farming] wood gassifiers for pto

Richard Stewart rstewart at zoomtown.com
Tue Oct 19 07:33:47 EDT 2010

I am not yet sold on char, but I have been following it.

Right now I see a whole lot more interest in the tax credit scene than in designing a system or product for farming. 

The problem with both systems is that they are manual intensive and/or costly.  The Biochar Engineering device is the closest I have seen in terms of ease of use, but I'd like to see them in commercial application for a few years.  As of last year it was still an experiment.  You need more than these machines though.  You need a system to dry your biomass (getting the most energy out of it and decreasing vent gasses (which increase if matter is wet/damp/high moisture content).  You need storage and handling another auger and loading system (doing it by hand increases work load and risk of injury the way they are set-up.  You then need water and electricity hook up to run the systems (both are computerized) and you need to quench the char.

I then need to justify the cost.  The one machine you have tagged costs over a hundred thousand dollars.  Adding that machine would be adding a new division of business in my farming because I would then need to get hauling capacity, contracts for biomass (which, hopefully I would get paid to remove or allowed to be dumped) and then depending on where you live there may be permitting issues.

It is my opinion that as a farmer, biochar (which, regardless of how they sell it is inactive carbon) would be a great way to get tax credits from the government (pay me to store your sequestered carbon) but as a useable soil amendment for my crops composting produces a far better product. 

I think its a great idea to sequester carbon and store it in a state that is inert.  I think it would also be a good system to heat a large greenhouse complex and the char be a byproduct that is, once combined with nutrients/compost/animal waste needed for growing sold or used in house.  I use a wood boiler to heat our farmhouse and office.  We burn nearly 11 tons of wood.  That is a very small application in a system that is in use for four months.

You need a whole LOT of DRY biomass to make these systems pay off.

Just some random thoughts on the matter.

Richard Stewart
Carriage House Farm
North Bend, Ohio

An Ohio Century Farm Est. 1855

(513) 967-1106
rstewart at zoomtown.com

On Oct 19, 2010, at 12:56 AM, Johnathan Yelenick wrote:

> http://www.gekgasifier.com
> wow. recent casual net surfing yielded some interesting thoughts.  Check out this open source firm. Cool, cool stuff.
> Use a g.e.k. to fuel an engine that's coupled to a pto, which employs the wood chipper used to chip your gek's fuel substrate.
> Harvest the created biochar from the g.e.k. and put the biochar in the field shelterbelt coppice/pollard stand of Robina pseudoacacia and Quercus macrocarpa you established with an EQUIP-Organic Grant you won from the Natural Resource Conservation Service :) ...a shelterbelt-stand that serves as the substrate source for the gek and de facto global carbon sink.
> Once a deep anthropic histosol is developed in the coppice food forest shelterbelt, the coppice/pollard should be producing like crazy providing more than enough biochar substrate, which then may go onto crop fields, which then produce like crazy (because of increased CEC, increased soil water holding capacity, and decreased bulk density) - bettering the quality of life for everyone in the community and integrating the bioregion ecologically.
> Seems, naturally, like a self-enhancing cycle.  :)
> There is this other local firm here in the Denver area that's making biochar machines too. But theirs are a little more pricey. http://www.biocharengineering.com/ How do you think these firms' products compare?  I'm especially interested in the quality and quantity of the compared biochar between both units.
> looks like the biocharengineering unit doesn't capture the syngas or "woodgas" for mechanical work as the gek does.
> Cheers,
> Johnathan
> Blacktail Farm
> South Platte River Watershed
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