Adelaide Hills Biochar Initiative

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by Brian Lewis - September 23rd, 2016

The South Australian WEEKENDER HERALD NEWS recently printed an article entitled “SUBSTANCE COMBATS GLOBAL WARMING” featuring a photo of “yours truly” holding some biochar. This excellent article crafted by journalist Lucy Robinson kindly referred to my 5 years of biochar trials while managing local equipment manufacturer Flow Force Technologies; and recommended my new book “Making Biochar – with Technical Manual” for anyone wanting to take up the practice of producing biochar.

The article also referred to my suggestion that local councils get on board and allow landholders the option of using a biochar kiln to convert their tree litter to biochar instead of burning it. The recent extensive storm damage in the Adelaide Hills coupled with new State government legislation banning the burning of garden waste in townships has aggravated the problem of tree litter disposal prior to onset of the bush fire season.

You can read the article on page 2 of the 1 Sept. 2016 issue or use the following link:

and go to page 2.


by Brian Lewis - September 6th, 2016

Hi out there! Sorry to have been away from the blog for so long. I have been busy developing two new types of biochar kiln. A brief summary follows:

One is a gasifier kiln based on the principles of the “Troika” TLUD (Top Lit Up Draft) gasifier stove developed by Dr. Paul Anderson. I have called this our Series 2 Style.

The other is a retort style kiln that allows the syngas to be used as a fuel for the kiln or diverted to a gas scrubber (i.e. gas cleaner) prior to burning or storing. This is similar in concept to the “Hornito” system developed by Robert Lerner of Biochar Costa Rica. I have called this our Series 3 style kiln.

The Series 3 kiln has been extensively tested and used by Temple Bruer Winery at Milang as part of their on-going program to become carbon neutral in their own right.

After I had done all that I retired so do not have any further commercial interest in making or selling biochar kilns.

However I would still very much like to encourage more people to make biochar.

So with that in mind I have written and published an e-book entitled “Making Biochar – with Technical Manual”. This has been published by Strong and Bold Publishing (my new publishing business) and is available for $9.99 from Please take a look at it. And if you like it please let me know. Or even tell me how it could be improved. The book is possibly unique in that it includes complete fabrication drawings for the Series 2 and Series 3 style kilns referred to above.


by Brian Lewis - July 26th, 2012

I know there are a few people actually developing and trialling various types of carboniser here in South Australia. But they don’t get much coverage in the media these days. If you are either building, developing, trialling or buying either a batch or continuous carboniser feel free to send your details here with a bit of a story and tell us about it. Don’t hide your light under a bushel!


by Brian Lewis - May 14th, 2012



The author of The Biochar Revolution, Dr. Paul Taylor recently contacted me to discuss the Flow Force Technologies biochar kiln that we have been testing in the Adelaide Hills. He is interested in possibly using it in his community garden projects in northern NSW.

He is currently using an Adam retort but believes there may be scope for a number of different styles of kiln depending on the type of feedstock, the type of user and the ultimate purpose of the biochar.

I believe the Flow Force biochar kiln is well-suited to community garden use. It is mobile and simple to use. It is relatively fast in operation (typically 4 hours per batch compared to 24 hours for some other systems). It is easy to load and unload by virtue of the revolving loading/unloading hatch.  It provides an electronic record of kiln temperature so the maximum temperature and duration of pyrolysis can be confirmed for each batch. It uses a built-in solar panel to operate the electronics so does not require an external supply of electricity.  


Chapter 1 of Paul Taylor’s book is available for free download at or from the website And the foreword by Dr. Tim Flannery is well worth reading and inspiring in itself.


by Brian Lewis - November 10th, 2011


The International Biochar Initiative (IBI) recently released for public comment its draft guidelines for specifications of biochar. The guidelines cover terms and definitions; feedstock requirements; safety requirements; testing; product labelling etc.

My initial comments on the guidelines are as follows:

Definition of biochar: The definition is over simplified, viz: “A solid material obtained from the carbonisation of biomass”. I think that any word preceded by the term “bio” suggests that it is of biological origin. Well charcoal made from coal is of biological origin (from fossilised plant matter).

So why the term biochar? I presume that it has been coined to try to discriminate between char from non-fossil sources and char made from fossil sources. The claim that biochar has the potential to be carbon negative by acting to sequester fixed carbon in the soil is relevant to the definition.

If we are going to have a biochar methodology for approving carbon credits then it goes without saying that the process of making biochar must be carbon negative as the calculation of carbon credits would have to be based on the mass of fixed carbon actually sequestered in the biochar less any carbon actually generated and added to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide by the production process.

So I believe that we need to expand the definition of biochar to mean that it only refers to char produced in such a way that it avoids more carbon dioxide than it generates. For example:

“Biochar is a solid material obtained by the carbonisation of biomass in a carbon negative process.”

Then it would be good to qualify the term with further definitions that specify the efficiency of its carbon dioxide avoidance.

If we let % CO2 Avoidance = (CO2 avoided-CO2 generated)/CO2

avoided x 100% then the following definition of biochar could apply :

BiocharNNN would be biochar produced with a carbon avoidance efficiency of NNN%. Eg: Biochar100; Biochar80; etc.

I guess I am concerned at the possibility in the future of large industrial processes for making and selling so-called biochar where the biochar has little or no carbon sequestration value. To me that would be a gross misuse of the term biochar as I think it was originally envisaged.

The document may be viewed at

It is open for public comment until 15 Nov. 2011.

Send comments to:


by Brian Lewis - October 28th, 2011

Refer attachment to view results of biochar analysis:

Analysing Biochar _Wet & Dry_


by Brian Lewis - October 28th, 2011

The demonstration batch carboniser was re-located
in July to a site near Echunga in the Adelaide Hills.

We can now demonstrate biochar production
in a rural setting. To arrange a demonstration
simply make an appointment by email.

We will now accept organic woody waste for conversion
to biochar at no cost. One 200 litre green bag of dry
material per person will be converted free of charge
with additional batches priced at $0.50 per kg of
biochar produced.

To make an appointment or to arrange dropping
off your green bag send an email to:

The photo above shows the demonstration unit
at the new site.


by Brian Lewis - August 4th, 2011

BIOCHAR PRODUCTION CENTRES in the Adelaide Hills and Country Regions will provide the following benefits:

Future Vision – Biochar Production Centres_


by Brian Lewis - June 6th, 2011

Test Results Summary


by Brian Lewis - November 5th, 2010

We have produced a number of batches of biochar with the Flow Force demonstration Batch Carboniser since June this year using feedstock from interested local people. Feedstocks used included:

Eucalyptus wood chips;
Eucalyptus logs;
Hardwood pallets;
Sawmill Pine offcuts;
Willow sticks.

Some of the resulting biochar will be made available as FREE SAMPLES to visitors to Adelaide Hills Farmers Markets commencing with the Macclesfield Strawberry Fete on Sunday November 28.

The slide presentations of Papers presented at the recent biochar conference in China are freely available to peruse at
These provide much insight into the work currently being done on biochar around the world and also provide some useful tips for users of biochar.

Check out Albert Bates (Biochar is the Solution) and his short chat on You Tube available at And then visit his blog at