Go Deeper


Ready to dive into more technical data and information about biochar?  Check out the resources listed here!

In-depth Information (broad)

Biochar Production

Designer Chars

Biochar Testing and Characterization

Biochar in Soils

Biochar in Compost

Biochar in the Nitrogen Cycle

Soil Web of Life Response to Biochar

Biochar Use in Agriculture

       ..... in Horticulture

       ......in Hydroponics

Ecological Restoration


Mine Reclaimation

Biochar as a Building Material

Biochar Energy

Carbon Sequestration

Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment

Biochar Related Businesses


In-depth Information

The Biochar Journal.  Non-technical to technical.  This excellent resource exists “to spark innovative research to find economically and environmentally responsible uses for biochar.”  Articles range in content from the potential use of biochar in coffee production, to the physical characteristics of biochar function in soils, to creating biochar in cone kilns, and much more.  http://www.biochar-journal.org/en/home

Environmental Benefits of Biochar.  PDF file.  Semi-Technical.  Journal of Environmental Quality.  This paper is a literature review on characterizing biochar and assessing its effects in different applications including agriculture and plant-growing, soil nutrient cycling, soil remediation, and greenhouse gas reduction.  The review mainly deals with medium-temperature biochars, but it offers some useful information and highlights some benefits and applications.  https://www.soils.org/publications/jeq/pdfs/41/4/967

Biochar Farms.  Non- to semi-technical website with a plethora of informational pieces and links to research, however many of the links are broken and the site is poorly maintained.  Visit with patience!  http://biocharfarms.org/

Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence.  Website.  Non-Technical to Semi-Technical.  Ithaca Institute.  This website is an excellent resource for information on biochar production, analysis, and use.  http://www.ithaka-institut.org/en/home

BioEnergy/Biochar Mailing Lists.  This non-technical website is an excellent clearinghouse or contact point for mailing lists, events, and general biochar information – covering backyard production, agricultural use, heat production (for cooking or energy) and more.  The site features a large assortment of biochar videos and links to other videos, websites, mailing lists, and PDF files.  http://biochar.bioenergylists.org/


Biochar Production


Biochar (pyrolysis).  Web-page.  Semi-Technical.  Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.  This useful page is a portal to several documents relevant to biochar production.  http://csanr.wsu.edu/biochar/

Methods for Producing Biochar and Advanced Biofuels in Washington State, Part 1:  Literature review of pyrolysis reactors.  PDF file.  Semi-technical.  This comprehensive review covers a wide range of commercial-level biochar reactors in good detail, and is an immense source of reading references as well. https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/publications/1107017.pdf

Methods for Producing Biochar and Advanced Biofuels in Washington State, Part 2:  Literature review of the biomass supply chain and preprocessing technologies.  PDF file.  Semi-technical.  This report reviews a wide range of approaches for acquiring and processing a variety of biochar feedstocks. https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/1207033.pdf

Methods for Producing Biochar and Advanced Biofuels in Washington State, Part 3:  Literature review on technologies for product collection and refining.  PDF file.  Semi-technical.  This report reviews literature on collecting and processing a wide range of products from biochar and biomass production. https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/1207034.pdf

Use of Biochar from the Pyrolysis of Waste Organic Material as a Soil Amendment.  PDF file.  Technical.   State of Washington, Department of Ecology.  This brief report summarizes some research on the feasibility of creating biochar-production enterprises that depend upon biomass waste.  Good summary of biochar production and characterization and environmental and agricultural effects.  https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/publications/0907062.pdf


Simple technologies for charcoal making.  Web-document.  Semi-technical.  Food and Agriculture Organization.  This interesting web-document describes planning and managing community-scale charcoal-making processes and facilities targeting developing countries. http://www.fao.org/docrep/x5328e/x5328e00.HTM


All Biochars are Not Created Equal and How to Tell Them Apart.  Hugh McLaughlin, et.al. PDF file. Dr. TLUD.  Technical.  This article describes basic characteristics of biochar and its production, biochar characterization, and the Top-Lit Up-Draft approach to making biochar.  http://www.biochar-international.org/sites/default/files/All-Biochars--Version2--Oct2009.pdf

CarbonZero Experimental Biochar Kiln.  Web article.  Non-technical.  Biochar.Info.  This article is a good guide to building a 55-gallon retort kiln. http://www.biochar.info/biochar.CarbonZero-Experimental-Biochar-Kiln.cfml

Charcoal:  How to Make it.  PDF file.  Non-Technical.  Gary Gilmore.  This article is good guide to making a simple, top-lit updraft kiln using two 55-gallon barrels.  http://biochar.bioenergylists.org/files/how_to_make_charcoal.pdf

Kon-Tiki Flame Cap Pyrolysis for the Democratization of Biochar Production.  PDF.  Ithika Journal.  Non-technical.  This excellent article highlights the process and advantages of using the Kon-Tiki cone-shaped Top-Lit Up Draft (TLUD), also known as Flame Cap, kilns. http://www.biochar-journal.org/itjo/media/doc/1429355798454.pdf

Making Biochar with Jolly Roger Ovens.  Doug's Intuitive Biochar.  Video.  23:58.  Non-Technical.  These rough-cut videos demonstrate the operation of a Top-Lit Under-Draft retort kiln made from 55-gallon and 30-gallon drums, some scrap steel, and re-used, re-purposed auto-mobile fans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg95KYrH8PI and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDMWf4_Dyqo

The Backyard Biochar Retort Kiln.  PDF file.  Non-Technical.  International Biochar Initiative.  This article is a good how-to guide to building a retort kiln, with helpful photos and diagrams. http://www.biochar-international.org/sites/default/files/backyard_biochar_kiln_instructions.pdf

The Charcoal Kiln: a Safe Way to Produce Charcoal Using Two Small Barrels.  Web article.  Non-technical.   This article is a good guide to building a simple retort kiln.  http://www.holon.se/folke/carbon/simplechar/stove.shtml


Designer Chars

Biomass Derived, Carbon Sequestering, Designed Fertilizers.  Technical PDF file.  This paper summarizes research on making fertilizer-infused biochars for greenhouse use.  Magrini-Bair, et.al, Annals of Environmental Science. http://iris.lib.neu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1040&context=aes

Characterization of Designer Biochar Produced at Different Temperatures and Their Effects on a Loamy Soil.  PDF file.  Technical.  J.M. Novak, et.al.  Annals of Environmental Science.  This paper reports research on producing biochars with valued characteristics by manipulating feedstock and pyrolysis temperatures. http://iris.lib.neu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=aes


Biochar Testing and Characterization

All Biochars are Not Created Equal and How to Tell Them Apart.  Hugh McLaughlin, et.al. PDF file. Technical.  This article describes basic characteristics of biochar and its production, biochar characterization, and the Top-Lit Up-Draft approach to making biochar.  Cross-posted in Biochar Production, Small-Scale.  http://www.biochar-international.org/sites/default/files/All-Biochars--Version2--Oct2009.pdf

Biochar Quality Mandate.  A lengthy and comprehensive protocol on biochar and feedstock sustainability, characterization and safety from the British Biochar Foundation.  Be sure to see the US version of Biochar and Biomass Sustainability on the USBI website.  http://www.britishbiocharfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/BQM-V1.0.pdf

The formation of polyaromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins during pyrolysis:  a review of the literature with descriptions of biomass composition, fast pyrolysis technologies, and thermochemical reactions.  PDF file. Technical.  A review of literature on biochar and characterization that found no published evidence of significant PAH and dioxin levels in biochar.  http://ac.els-cdn.com/S138917231300217X/1-s2.0-S138917231300217X-main.pdf?_tid=9970217a-160d-11e5-b1a1-00000aab0f26&acdnat=1434668517_061699b64b0cef6800e4d564cfb198e0

UC Davis Biochar Database.  On-line database.  Technical.  UC Davis.  This excellent web resource is a database plotting characterization data from an expanding collection of biochars. http://www.pacificbiomass.org/documents/TheFormationOfPolyaromaticHydrocarbonsAndDioxinsDuringPyrolysis.pdf


Biochar in Soil

Biochar Application to Soils.  This report catalogs the positive, negative, and unknown attributes associated with applying biochar to soils for soil improvement, agriculture and soil remediation.  Semi-technical PDF file from the European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability.  http://eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/esdb_archive/eusoils_docs/other/eur24099.pdf

Biochar: carbon sequestration, land remediation and impacts on soil microbiology.  PDF file.  Technical.  Ennis, C.J., et.al.  Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 42 (22), p. 2311-2364.   This paper gives a good technical overview of how biochar affects the soil mechanisms relevant to soil rehabilitation and agriculture in general.  Cross-posted to Uses, Remediation. http://tees.openrepository.com/tees/bitstream/10149/188589/8/188589.pdf

Biochar, climate change and soil:  A review to guide future research.  This report offers a comprehensive review of medium-temperature biochar, focusing on biochar production and agricultural applications.  PDF file.  CSIRO, Australia.  Saran Sohi, et. al.  2009. http://www.clw.csiro.au/publications/science/2009/sr05-09.pdf

Defining Carbon in Soil.  Web article.  Non-technical.  NSW Department of Primary Industries.  This article is a useful outline of the different carbon pools found in “soil organic matter.” http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/archive/agriculture-today-stories/ag-today-archives/march-2008/defining-carbon-in-soil

Potential of Pyrolyzed Organic Matter in Soil Amelioration.  This paper reports on research on biochar in agricultural soils and improvements on soil health and productivity.  PDF file.  Technical.  J. Lehmann, et.al.  . http://www.eprida.com/hydro/ecoss/background/pyrolyzed.pdf

Use of Biochar from the Pyrolysis of Waste Organic Material as a Soil Amendment.  This research paper reports on the feasibility of creating biochar-production enterprises that depend upon biomass waste and offers a good summary of biochar production and characterization and environmental and agricultural effects.  PDF file.  Technical.  State of Washington, Department of Ecology.  https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/publications/0907062.pdf


Biochar in Compost

Synergisms between Compost and Biochar for Sustainable Soil Amelioration.  PDF file.  Semi-technical.  This article is a good synopsis of the biochar and compost relationship.  http://www.biomastec.com/fileadmin/Sonstiges/InTech-Synergisms_between_compost_and_biochar_for_sustainable_soil_amelioration.pdf

Biochar and the Biomass Recycling Industry.  Web Article.  Jim Grob, Art Donnelly, Gloria Flora, and Thomas Miles.  BioCycle website.  Semi-technical.  This brief but interesting article suggests some ways to incorporate biomass production into the biomass recycling industry. http://www.biocycle.net/2011/08/16/biochar-and-the-biomass-recycling-industry


Biochar in the Nitrogen Cycle

A Review of Biochar and Soil Nitrogen Dynamics.  This paper reviews the state of knowledge on biochar's relationship to the N cycle, specifically its ability to absorb and mitigate the loss of ammonia and nitrate.  PDF file.  Technical.  T. Clough, et.al.  Agronomy (open access). http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4395/3/2/275

Impacts of biochar additions on soil: microbial processes and nitrogen cycling.  This slide-format presentation describes biochar's role in microbial nutrient and nitrogen cycle including the production of ethylene, which promotes fungal hyphae but inhibits nitrification.  PDF file.  Semi-Technical.  USDA, Agricultural Research Services.   http://afrsweb.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/person/41695/Presentations/Spokas_March2011.pdf


Soil Food Web Responds to Biochar

Mycorrhizal responses to biochar in soil:  concepts and mechanisms. PDF file.  Technical.  Warnock, Lehmann, et.al.  Plant Soil.  This paper gives a good overview of biochar's effect on mycorrhizae – a plant-symbiotic fungus. http://www.css.cornell.edu/faculty/lehmann/publ/PlantSoil%20300,%209-20,%202007,%20Warnock.pdf

The Biochar Effect:  Plant Resistance to Biotic Stresses.  PDF file.  Technical.  Y. Elad, et.al.  This paper reviews recent research suggesting that biochar in soils induces plant resistance to infections. http://www.fupress.net/index.php/pm/article/view/9807/9897

The effects of biochar on soil respiration in rhizosphere and non-rhizosphere soil.  PDF file.  Technical.  Urbankoka et.al.  MendelNet 2014.  This paper reports research demonstrating that biochar can increase soil life activity.  https://mnet.mendelu.cz/mendelnet2014/articles/52_urbankova_1077.pdf


Biochar Use in Agriculture

Agrichar Trialed in Field at Wollongbar.  Web article.  Non-technical.  Agriculture Today, NSW Dept. Ag. Research.  Research summary on biochar, agriculture, and greenhouse gas emissions.  http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/archive/agriculture-today-stories/ag-today-archives/february-2007/agrichar-trialled-wollongbar

Biochar Usage:  Pros and Cons.  PDF from Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory by Jim Ippolito, et. al.  Semi-Technical.  This paper reviews the findings of several USDA Agricultural Research Services research studies on biochar and agriculture in Australia.  http://eprints.nwisrl.ars.usda.gov/1522/

Biochar Application to Temperate Soils:  Effects on Nutrient Uptake and Crop Yield under Field Conditions.  This paper reports research published in Agricultural and Food Science on the effects of biochar on grain and seed crops, demonstrating water-holding advantages but demonstrating deficiencies in soils amended with biochar without nitrogen supplements.  PDF file.  Technical. By J Karer, et. al. http://ojs.tsv.fi/index.php/AFS/article/view/8155

Biochar application to temperate soils: Effects on soil fertility and crop growth under greenhouse conditions.  A companion study to the above, researchers now test biochar in temperate soils but in a greenhouse controlled environment with no additional supplements.  A technical paper available as PDF by S. Kloss, et.al.  http://www.researchgate.net/publication/259539543_Biochar_application_to_temperate_soils_Effects_on_soil_fertility_and_crop_growth_under_greenhouse_conditions

Evaluating the Agronomic Benefits of Biochar Amended Soils in an Organic System.  PDF file.  Semi-Technical. Jessica Dennis and K. Kou, UBC Farm, Vancouver.   This paper reports the short-term results of a fresh-biochar study in British Columbia, finding little benefit and no disadvantage to using biochar in their stud. http://www.oacc.info/DOCs/Extension/Biochar%20Final%20ReportV2_UBCFarm_Dennis.pdf

How Biochar Can Improve Sustainability for Coffee Cultivation and Processing.  Web Article.  Semi-Technical.  Kathleen Draper and Thayer Tomlinson.  This article gives an interesting overview of a system of incorporating biochar production and use into a coffee cultivation and processing operation.  http://www.biochar-journal.org/en/ct/54-How-Biochar-Can-Improve-Sustainability-for-Coffee-Cultivation-and-Processing


The use of biochar in cattle farming.   Web Article.  Semi-technical.  Achim Gerlach & Hans-Peter Schmidt.   The Biochar Journal.  Another interesting article by Peter Schmidt.  This one makes a great case for biochar and EMI bacteria polycultures for many functions in cattle management.   http://www.biochar-journal.org/en/ct/9-The-use-of-biochar-in-cattle-farming

Treating liquid manure with biochar.  Web article.  Semi-technical.  Hans-Peter Schmidt.  The Biochar Journal.  This interesting article makes a great case for treating liquid cow manures with biochar and EMI bacteria polycultures to create valuable fertilizers while eliminating the conditions leading to intense odors. http://www.biochar-journal.org/en/ct/29-Treating-liquid-manure-with-biochar


Biochar from manure waste enhances soils.  Web article. Science Daily.   A brief summary of scientific research on incorporating biochar into poultry management.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150506084547.htm


Biochar in Horticulture

Biochar as a growing media additive and peat substitute.  PDF file.  Technical.  http://www.solid-earth.net/5/995/2014/se-5-995-2014.pdf

Biochar as a replacement for perlite in greenhouse soilless substrates.  PDF file.  Technical. Jake Northup, Master's Thesis, Iowa SU.   http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4406&context=etd

Biochar as a substitute for vermiculite in potting mix for hybrid poplar.  PDF File.  Technical.  Headlee, et.al.  http://www.fs.fed.us/nrs/pubs/jrnl/2014/nrs_2014_headlee_001.pdf

Comparison of Charred and Uncharred Wood Aggregates in Horticultural Substrates.  PDF File.  Technical.  Judd, et.al. http://www.sna.org/Resources/Documents/14resprosec02.pdf

Effect of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal Inoculation and Biochar Amendment on Growth and Yield of Tomato.  PDF File.  Technical.  Nzanza et. al. http://www.fspublishers.org/published_papers/10072_..pdf

Pelleted biochar:  chemical and physical properties show potential use as a substrate in container nurseries.  PDF file. Technical.  http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2011_dumroese_r002.pdf


Biochar in Hydroponics

Biochar Affects Macronutrient Leaching from a Soilless Substrate.  PDF file.  Technical.  USDA ARS.  http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/56261/PDF

Greenhouse trials on biochar as the growth media for cucumber, totato and pepper hydroponic vegetable production.  PDF. Technical.  Zhang, et.al., Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.  http://albertabiochar.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/AITF_-Jian-Yang.pdf

Ecological Restoration

Biochar and Prairie Biodiversity.  Video.  3:52.  Non-technical.  Iowa State University.  This brief video describes some research done on the effects of using biochar in prairie ecotype management. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVPbeqeRUL0


Characteristics of biochar and its application in remediation of contaminated soil.  PDF File.  Technical.  Jingchun Tang, et. al.  This brief paper reviews the variations in biochar quality and the effects of biochar on remediation of organic and inorganic soil contamination. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S138917231300217X

Biochar as a sorbent for contaminant management soil and water: a review.  PDF File.  Technical.  Mahtab Ahmad, et.al.  This paper reviews the sparse literature on biochar adsorption of organic and inorganic soil contaminants (as of 2013) and discusses adsorption dependency on production factors (such as temperature and feedstock) and some of the mechanisms at work. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yong_Sik_Ok/publication/259107908_Biochar_as_a_sorbent_for_contaminant_management_in_soil_and_water_A_review/links/00b7d52a6145a324e6000000.pdf

Biochar: carbon sequestration, land remediation and impacts on soil microbiology.  PDF file.  Technical.  Ennis, C.J., et.al. 2012.  Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 42 (22), p. 2311-2364.   This paper gives a good technical overview of how biochar affects the soil mechanisms relevant to soil rehabilitation and agriculture in general.  Cross-posted to Biochar in Soil, General.  http://tees.openrepository.com/tees/bitstream/10149/188589/8/188589.pdf

Impact of Biochar on Organic Contaminants in Soil:  A Tool for Mitigating Risk?  PDF file.  Technical.  Agronomy (Open Access).  U. Ogbonnaya and K. Semple.  This paper reviews technical questions regarding the potential use of biochar in mitigating the effects and movement of organic contaminants in soil. http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4395/3/2/349

Use of phytoremediation and biochar to remediate heavy metal polluted soils:  a review.  PDF file.  Semi-technical.  J. Paz-Ferreiro, et.al.  Solid Earth.  This short paper reviews research on combining phytoremediation with biochar to remediate soils polluted with heavy metals. http://www.solid-earth.net/5/65/2014/se-5-65-2014.pdf

UC Davis Biochar Sorption Database.  On-line database.  Technical.  UC Davis.  This great web resource is a database plotting characterization data for two axes for your choice of independent and dependent variables from an expanding collection of biochars. http://biochar.ucdavis.edu/sorption/

Evaluation of Biochar for Reduction of Nitrogen in Stormwater Remediation Systems.  Technical.  A Master’s Thesis by V. Beneski, University of Delaware.  http://udspace.udel.edu/bitstream/handle/19716/12813/Valentina_Beneski_thesis.pdf?sequence=1


Mine Reclamation

Biochar: An Emerging Market Solution for Legacy Mine Reclamation and the Environment.  A semi-technical article by Keske and Lohman, Colorado State University on the potential use and markets for biochar in mine reclamation.  Extensive citations and review of field studies.  http://www.law.du.edu/documents/registrar/adv-assign/Keske_Economicsof%20Natural%20Resources%20and%20the%20Environment_Attachment%201_79_2.pdf

Application of Biochar on Mine Tailings:  Effects and Perspectives for Land Reclamation.  A technical article from Chemosphere journal on how biochar can be used in phytoremediation of mine tailings.  http://www.biochar-international.org/node/2455

Biochar as a Building Material

The use of biochar as a building material.  A semi-technical article by Hans-Peter Schmidt on the uses of biochar in building construction using the Ithaka Institute’s new building as an example, with a number of references from Japanese use in humidity control in buildings. https://www.biochar-journal.org/en/ct/3 


Biochar and Energy

Biochar Production and Energy.  A lengthy detailed article on biochar production and attendant energy production by J. Gaunt, PhDEverything you wanted to know about production and more! http://biocharfarms.org/biochar_production_energy/

The Charcoal Vision: A Win–Win–Win Scenario for Simultaneously Producing Bioenergy, Permanently Sequestering Carbon, while Improving Soil and Water Quality.  PDF file.  Semi-technical.   David A. Laird.  Agronomy Journal.  This article describes a vision of transforming biomass to syngas, bio-oil and charcoal.  Charcoal, in turn, can be used as a fuel source or for biochar (applied to growing ecosystems), where it can enhance soil and water quality.  This production framework, taken to a large-scale, could play a large role in national energy use.   http://www.carbonchar.com/sites/default/files/LAIRD.pdf


Carbon Sequestration

Biochar Production for Carbon Sequestration.  PDF file. Technical.  This Project report describes methodologies for characterizing biochar and quantifying biochar production insofar as it can be useful to sequester carbon. By Allyson Stoyle.  https://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-031111-153641/unrestricted/BIOCHAR_CO2SEQ.pdf

Using biochar systems to sequester carbon.  Web Article.  Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.  This article gives a good overview of the economic argument for using biochar to sequester carbon.  http://www.agmrc.org/renewable_energy/biomass_energy_production/using-biochar-systems-to-sequester-carbon/


Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment

Life cycle assessment of greenhouse gas mitigation benefits of biochar.  A technical paper by A. Cowie, et.al. assessing GHG mitigation at each stage of biochar production and use. http://www.biochar-international.org/node/5567 

Declaration of Sustainability for Biochar Production.  PDF file.  Non-Technical.  U.S. Biochar.  Draft of an ethical and environmental standard for all phases of biochar production. http://biochar-us.org/pdf%20files/Biochar%20Sustainability%20Protocols%20-%20Mar%202011%20Draft.pdf

A life cycle assessment of environmental and economic balance of biochar systems in Quebec.  Technical research paper by Dutta and Raghavan. A life cycle analysis (LCA) for pyrolysis biochar systems to determine greenhouse gas balance, carbon cycling and the economics of biochar production from different agricultural residues and wastes. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40095-014-0106-4


Biochar-related Businesses

NFF recognizes biochar, biochemical business ideas.  Web article.  Biomass Magazine.  Brief article on the National Forest Foundation's program to meet forest restoration needs through business enterprise and their award to a biochar company.  http://www.biomassmagazine.com/articles/11537/nff-recognizes-biochar-biochemical-business-ideas


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