Alterna Biocarbon

Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE, Alterna Biocarbon Inc.

As the world of biochar expands, the need for definitive research to answer core questions grows. One such question is “What is the role of adsorption and when does it make a pivotal difference in growing situations?” Answering those questions has been hampered by the historical absence of adsorption as a monitored property in soils and soil components (as compared to CEC) and the lack of a reliable method to create low and high adsorption biochars. While there is little that can be done about the former situation, the later may have a fairly facile solution, which will be presented here.

Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE, Alterna Biocarbon Inc. , January 2010

Biochar is a vague term that applies to a potentially broad class of charcoal materials intended for addition to soils. Many raw materials and conversion processes can lay claim to producing biochar, and the resulting biochars will have different characteristics. The purpose of this discussion is to formulate a simple scheme for characterizing biochars before addition to soils. Efforts will be made to discuss the logic behind the individual characteristics, in addition to the limitations of the individual assays.

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