Biochar in the news

How Biochar Is Triggering a New Industrial Revolution

This came from Dr.Mercola. Seems there maybe a new business for Biochar. You can see the article at

In a nut shell the world is waking up to the benefits of biochar. This is a very positive article from a very reputable Medical Professional.


Hi Irvin,
This is a very interesting theme. We started a chat some time ago called “Biochar the Science Behind It”. It´s been some time I haven´t uploaded new information, because severe problems in my country Venezuela. Some very interesting papers and articues were uploaded.


Mercola site is full of advertising. Here is a link to one of 4 bio-char references.


There appears to be no end of uses for charcoal:

“Another reason for using biochar in building materials is the fact that the carbon acts as an electromagnetic field (EMF) shield, thus insulating you from EMFs from the environment. It also intercepts Wi-Fi and blocks infrared. In essence, it’s an effective solution for creating a Faraday cage, radically reducing the amounts of radiofrequencies that are entering your home environment from the outside.”


Very interesting link Mike. I was quite surprised to read of benefits from using biochar in pavement and concrete. I will have to read up on specs, make some concrete test samples to see how it plays out in the real world.


There is a lot of information around on “the internet”, some is useful and useable but the larger part is, sorry to say, just plain bogus…

The reason why i say this; i spent the largest part of my time to find truth in those claims you can read on internet and claims you can find in research papers, Phd papers and so on.

Yes, a large portion of what they write might be true, but once you do all testing by yourself, analyse the proporties, the acidity, the alkalinity, the adsorption rates, the works… ten you see the discrepancy between what they write and reality…

Yes, carbon has its advantages and its uses, far more than that its been written yet, but its never in real life as its been written in those articles…

For example: Char from a bonfire and from a gasifier are more or less “activated” coz the contact it had with oxydizers in the process of combustion/reduction,
A retort charcoal does not have an oxydising agent, so the proporties are different, treatment afterwards is also different afterwards

Fresh charcoal generally has a high alkalinity, what might be benificial in one case but wrong in the other…

Yes , you can engineer the charcoal untill it fits the purpose for it… if you know how and if you know why…

Some carbon is highly conductive, exellent for radiation protection as a shield, but might be less adsorbing…

And yes again, you can tailor made the charcoal, but it is never a “do all or fitt all” by its nature…

One of the ongoing research projects i am building (for the industry)
1: gasyfying biomas,
2:using the carbon residu for adsorbing the HOC volatiles in the printing facility,
3: using the saturated carbon as boilerfuel

also 2: using the carbon as adsorption agent / de-acidizer in the waste water plant

4: the ashes go into lowgrade concrete as ciment substitute ( concrete tiles and road pavement)
also a part gets mixed in with sludge from the rice mill and turns into organic fertilizer.

5: a lot of the carbon i use for reducing waste Co2 into CO with the help from a special gasifier reactor.

WOW, the list can be endless i see, and i see it by DOING it… the same as all DOW ers…


Koen, how do you interpret the claims of increased concrete strength with 2% added charcoal?
Obviously the charcoal will have to be rather hard to resist the char from grinding to insignificant aggregate size, and I infer from the description that the char is intended to replace a portion of the sand, so is ground and classified very fine to begin with. Alkalinity will be a factor in concrete, but it is already quite alkaline, so it will be desirable to not detract from that PH.

I will have to read sources, but for the sake of the public discussion, and because it seems you may already have accumulated significant experience in this regard, I am posing the questions.


Koen this might be a complex question but what is the difference between actived carbon and non activated? I was looking into something totally non related and they said it was important to have actived carbon but didn’t explain the difference. As far as I could tell it was a process to increase the surface area but I simply don’t know enough to even be dangerous in that realm.


Dan I have ask that question several times. Never got a direct answer, but it sounds to me like charcoal is like a sponge. When it is first made it is just a sponge. But if you mix it with chemicals it will absorb those chemicas and release them slowly over years. If you mix it with compost it will make the compost work over several years. If you put it in and alphalfa, or soy bean, or peanut field it will absort nitrogen that thes laguns produce and make the soil rich for several years of corn growing, which removes nitrogen from the soil. I think you can even wash charcoal with cemical solution to activate it and produce a more acid or alkalyn soil for a longer time then just adding something like lime or pot ash to the surface. TomC


Too make activated charco for medical bandage use. They crush hardwood charco real fine, then mix with water & calcium chloride mix. cook it dry and it ready too use activated charco. That process makes charco much more absorbent.


It meanly depends the charcoal’s origin and proporties, not all charcoal is the same, nor is the concrete the same… So many factors that do play a role but as a rule of thumb: don’t change a known into a unknown unless you know how to analyze the outcome…

All these statements are true (kind of) as charcoal consists of many kinds of carbons (soft, hard, softer, harder ) and to imagine it as a sponge with capilar proporties or just plain pores in different sizes.
The surface of the carbon might be repelling one but attracting the other substance.
That can be altered by using different chemicals or different processes.

The retort carbon has only the volatiles removed by heat, but all the carbons that not dissolve into gas at that heat stay in place. Once you use a “oxydizer” those softer carbons will be removed first thus opening more pores. ( The charcoal feels lighter per volume)

Certain kinds of chemicals can be used to “coat” the carbon surface to obtain different adsorption proporties, depending what you need it for.

Overall, how to use home made activated charcoal: boil it in sufficient water untill you have a neutral PH value.
If you have acidic soil or if you need higher alkaline levels in your drinking water, then use the charcoal as is.
Activated charcoal or carbon, its fun to work with but not always as simple as some people put it…


Thanks Koen I will have to think about that for a while. It is just a curiosity at the moment for me I have too many peojects to start another one right now. But your comment about stripping away parts of the charcoal to get different chemical reactions fits with what I was hearing other try to explain. I was looking into the applications of carbon in energy storage and the technology almost seems too good to be true but yet not already in usage. Your comment makes me wonder if the constancy is tricky to keep up to modern industrial standards could be the underlying issue.


Here are 5 ways to activate your charcoal that I found a while ago. . Start a 7 minutes into the video. Hope this is helpful to someone. :+1:

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Hi Carl , welcome aboard and thanks for your input on this subject .

My understanding of "Activated " Charcoal goes like this , imagine you have a drum of engine grade charcoal , right now that charcoal is just charcoal , its not activated its just plain ole carbon , sure its got its uses as engine fuel but not as BIO char , to turn that charcoal into biochar you would need to explode it into millions of small fragmented porous bits that will soak up the nutriments and as they say a handfull of activated charcoal has more surface area than a football field .
The way that i have been told is that during the charcoal process towards the end when all the volatiles have been burnt off and while its red hot is to quench it with water , that will have the effect of shattering the charcoal and fragmenting it into millions of tiny sponge like porous pieces that are then readily available to soak up all that only activated charcoal can .

That Youtube video was wrong and what he should be saying was 5 ways to inoculate your biochar


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hi Dave,
ever seen charcoal coming out of an oven of 1200ºC ?
Its hot…
Even after quenching it in icy water it was not activated charcoal…
As you can see in this clip where me and my wife getting it out of the oven and put it in the water… the radiant heat is hot… :grin:


Hi Koen , unlike you i am a novice when it comes to chemistry and such like ,and so i learn from doing and from others experiences and also reading , but i guess its like most news papers or web pages of today and that is don’t believe everything you read . :grin:


Interesting thread.
After digesting all the info, isn’t steam-activated charcoal what we’re producing in a wood gasifier?
I don’t know about grades, but it should at least have more pores cracked open than char made in a retort/kiln, right?
Edit: I’m about to produce a couple handfulls in a minute, driving to work.


Good morning JO, my thinking is, if we didn’t run out of oxygen in the reaction, we would end up with a small pile of ‘‘junk’’ in the ash pit with no charcoal. All of the ‘‘C’’ would be eatin by the ‘‘O’’. Some water ‘‘O’s’’ eat some ‘‘C’’ but most goes through as steam to the cooling tubes and condenses. Or something??? TomC
Kristijan did I hear you typing in the back ground???


Tom that’s true, but hopefully we don’t pull that hard most of the time, and we do slip some char.
My question was if the excess steam that doesn’t get converted to hydrogen will do the job as a “steam-activator” as described in @d100f 's link.