Adelaide Hills Biochar Initiative


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


by Brian Lewis - June 18th, 2010


Biochar is environmentally friendly char that is added to the soil to improve soil health.

Biochar has NOT been made from:

a) fossil fuel such as coal (which would increase greenhouse gas emissions);
b) organic matter containing poisons (eg arsenic);

AND the process of making biochar has NOT:

a) caused smoke pollution;
b) emitted toxic fumes;
c) generated more greenhouse gases than it has captured;

AND the resulting biochar does NOT:

a) contain harmful tars or poisons that could pollute the soil and water table.

by Brian Lewis - May 18th, 2010


Whenever a tree falls down or is cut down the usual practice is to either burn the remains or convert it to wood chips for use as landscaping mulch. Unfortunately when this happens all the ‘work’ that the tree has done over its lifetime in capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere is completely undone! Typically about half of the wood is carbon by weight. (Ref. 1).

When burning the tree all the carbon is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and even though this is a carbon neutral process overall the reality is that because of the time discrepancy between the capturing of the carbon (perhaps over 100 years) and the release of the carbon (say 1 hour) the atmosphere is a lot worse off very quickly.

After converting to wood chips the carbon is also released back into the atmosphere but over a longer period (a few years) during the de-composition and rotting of the wood chips. These slow emissions could be as carbon dioxide or even worse as methane.

Q: So what can be done to prevent this?

A: Carbonise the tree remains and sequester the resulting carbon.

Q: How can this be done?

A: Use a high efficiency carboniser to convert most of the carbon previously locked in the tree into biochar.

Q: How much carbon will be captured? And how much greenhouse gas will be averted?

A: For every tonne of tree about 0.5 tonne will be carbon. The efficiency of a good carboniser is 85-90% so that means you can get about 0.45 tonne of carbon per tonne of tree. For every tonne of carbon captured 3.66 tonnes of carbon dioxide (see note 1) is diverted from the atmosphere (less any carbon dioxide generated in the process). So for every tonne of tree about 1.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas will be averted.

1. Neil Sampson. Monitoring and measuring wood carbon. Colorado SWCS Conference on Carbon as a potential commodity, Denver, Dec. 4, 2002.

Note 1. Molecular weight (MW) of carbon dioxide (CO2) is MW of carbon plus 2 x MW of oxygen. MW of carbon = 12; MW of oxygen = 16; so MW of carbon dioxide is 12 + (2 x 16) = 44.
Then as MW of carbon dioxide divided by MW of carbon is 44/12 or 3.66 it follows that the weight of carbon dioxide averted is 3.66 times the weight of carbon that is captured.

by Brian Lewis - May 14th, 2010


Adelaide company Flow Force Technologies Pty Ltd has offered to make their new demonstration batch carboniser available to the Adelaide Hills Biochar Initiative on a no-fee casual basis with only reimbursement for travel costs and other outgoings.

The Flow Force carboniser is a batch unit with 240 litres input capacity.

This is a brilliant bit of progress as it clears the way for us to start demonstrating biochar production in a truly practical sense and to start assessing the costs and benefits in a realistic manner. No doubt there will be numerous suggestions as to how to improve the design or operation of the unit. And presumably this would be useful feedback for Flow Force.

The photo below shows the unit in operation at Bowden near Adelaide.


by Brian Lewis - May 6th, 2010


When it comes to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions the solar and wind technologies get a lot of coverage in the media. But the “greener” technology of carbon capture and storage is usually seen as only relevant to forestry and future large coal-fired power station CO2 capture and storage schemes.

On the other hand small-scale carbon capture and storage technology exists now and if adopted on a household basis could lead to significant reductions in total CO2 emissions.

Wherever there is waste wood available there is the potential to simultaneously create biochar for soil enhancement and carbon credits. This ought to be of interest to all households, farmers, market gardeners, orchardists, vignerons, botanical gardens, national parks, schools, golf courses, eco-villages and eco-cooperatives.

The technology is simple, safe and clean and with time every household will be able to afford to install one in their backyard and be able to make a real contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.

For example if just one household produced just 25kg a week of biochar from garden waste and used it in the garden or just buried it and did that for 50 weeks a year that household would be diverting nearly 5 tonnes (4.575 T to be exact) of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Multiply that by say 5 million households in Australia and we could potentially achieve an annual reduction by households alone of 25 million tonnes of GHG emissions,

ALSO: Where an individual seeks to offset the GHG emissions of his/her motor vehicle on a weekly basis the production and capture of 25kg of biochar will typically offset about 40 litres of petrol. The calculation is as follows:

If heating value of petrol = 47 Megajoules/kg;
and petrol emits when burned 67 grams of CO2/Megajoule;
and 1 litre of petrol weighs 0.7 kg
then 40 litres of petrol will generate about 47 x 40 x 0.7 Megajoules
which produces about 47 x 40 x 0.7 x 67/1000 kg (or 88 kg) of CO2.
This amount of CO2 can be captured by 88/3.66 kg (or 24kg) of biochar.

The Adelaide Hills Biochar Initiative (AHBI).

by Brian Lewis - April 28th, 2010

The Adelaide Hills Biochar Initiative (AHBI) was established on 20/4/2010 in Macclesfield, South Australia by Brian Lewis and inspired by the aims and aspirations of the International Biochar Initiative.

AHBI aims to promote biochar production and application in the Adelaide Hills area with the goal of advising local agricultural operations, local government and other stakeholders on the advantages of biochar as a tool for greenhouse gas reduction while enhancing agriculture. AHBI will also strive to establish a demonstration project for biochar production and application using agricultural and garden waste feedstocks. AHBI’s longer term vision is to see biochar production become an established fact of life in all Adelaide Hills communities using locally made carbonisers for the benefit of local agriculture and the environment.

The proposed strategy for achieving the above aims is to:
1.  Raise awareness about biochar through the local media;
2. Publish and distribute relevant information;
3. Set up and operate an internet web page;
4. Identify possible demonstration sites;
5. Obtain a demonstration unit;
6. Share the demonstration unit between sites on a rotation basis;
7. Produce biochar from local organic waste;
8. Identify participants willing to use the biochar;
9. Report on outcomes.

Anyone interested in taking part in any stage of this initiative is invited to contact Brian Lewis by email at