Could a heap of charcoal help mitigate climate change? Bob Wells, Co-Founder of the Chargrow Biochar Company, in North Carolina believes it can. Wells stands by a kiln that is drying wood scraps from saw mills, pallet companies, and furniture factories.

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WELLS: “To them, it’s trash. They need to get rid of it. But for us it’s gold because it’s already in the right shape and size and it’s easy to dry and put into our system.”

Biochar producers use the energy stored in timber and agriculture waste. They heat it in a low-oxygen environment, and convert it into charcoal, which is then buried in the soil — providing a boost to crops.

WELLS: “It increases the soil’s ability to hold onto water. It increases the soil’s ability to hold onto nutrients. At the same time, it’s not breaking down like compost does. Biochar is carbon that’s going stay there in the soil.”

Because it buries carbon in the soil for hundreds of years, biochar may be an important tool to fight climate change. More research is needed, but as concerns about global warming grow, biochar is an industry poised for growth.

Reporting credits: Megan Albon and ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Biochar for Environmental Management, Professor Johannes Lehmann and Professor Stephen Joseph
Prominent environmentalist James Lovelock, founder of the Gaia theory
International Biochar Initiative
Review of James Bruges book The Biochar Debate
U.S. Biochar Initiative

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