Saturday, February 14, 2009

Biochar- Extended

By Rico

Picture thanks to
This plant was grown by Biochar.

Around 1200 A.D., the Guarita people, who lived in the lower Amazon delta, discovered a dark soil known as terra preta. When corn was planted in this soil, they noticed extreme plant growth, which could only be explained by planting in the unique soil. They found the soil was excellent to use for pot making. Such pots still exist today. Archaeologists discovered these pots, on which art work told the story of the special soil.

Scientists learned of the special soil, and decided to test the uniqueness of its properties. They learned that substances in the soil are a type of charcoal, consisting mostly of carbon, which is produced from biomass. The biomass is produced via pyrolysis (the process of subjecting carbon compounds to very high temperature, in the absence of oxygen, and the resulting decomposition). The scientists declared this soil to be “biochar”. Biochar can store carbon-dioxide in the ground, which increases the productivity of the earth’s soil, thus explaining the extreme plant growth when this type of soil is used.

Biochar is a high carbon, fine grained, residue which can be produced in large quantities by smoldering biomass (that part of a habitat consisting of living matter, measured in per unit volume of habitat), or through modern pyrolysis action. The solid form of the biomass is biochar, the liquid form is bio-oil, and the gas form is syngas. The energy produced by biochar is higher than the energy produced by corn ethanol, per unit.

Biochar is thought to be more beneficial than fertilizers because it increases the soil content of carbon without the residual and harmful chemicals found in fertilizer. It also has many other co-benefits such as preventing nutrient leach from soils, increasing the available nutrients for plant growth, increasing the soil’s water retention, thus decreasing the amount of any type of required fertilizer. More in importantly, it has recently been shown that biochar decreases nitrous-oxide and methane emissions from the soil, thus reducing green house gases.

The modern day production of biochar consists of burning wood and/or heating it to 500 degrees Celsius, in an inert atmosphere, forcing decomposition to either a gas, liquid or solid matter. The solid matter has proved to be usable in farming practices, as fertilizer; the oil and gases can be used to fuel space heaters, furnaces and boilers; the oil and gases can also be “upgraded” for transportation use as gasoline or as bio-diesel substitutes. More exciting is the “waste” product, bio-oil, from biochar.

Biochar is slowly finding its way to market. Agrichar, T.M., produces farm fertilizers, which are available to the general public. As the country’s energy needs increase and natural resources such as petroleum oil decrease, bio-fuel production appears to be a viable alternative, without the harmful byproduct of green house gases.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Commodities For Energy For the Week of Valentine's Day

By: Trisha, Kaylee, Kyra, Noelle

Light crude oil $33.98

Heating oil $1.32

Natural gas $4.51

Unleaded gas $1.26

Source: AAA

Nike Trash Talks

Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns and Nike created a new basketball shoe. You may just think it is just another basketball shoe but it is actually made out of waste materials! The upper is pieced together from leather and synthetic leather waste from the factory floor using zig-zag stitching. The mid-sole uses scrap-ground foam from factory production. The outsole uses environmentally-preferred rubber that reduces toxics and incorporates Nike Grind material from footwear outsole manufacturing waste. The Phoenix Suns’ colorways will have shoe laces and sockliners which use environmentally-preferred materials and will be packaged in a fully recycled cardboard shoe box.

NextEra Going Green

Rea and Mariah

NextEra Energy Resources (the nation's #1 Green energy producer), operates in 25 deregulated states and Canada and NextEra can invest shareholder capital in renewable resources that help states meet increasingly high demands and green-energy quotas. Its also includes the world's largest wind farm, the 735-megawatt Horse Hollow which is located in Texas, and it includes the world's largest solar-thermal plant, the 310-megawatt Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert located in California.

Nike Trash Talks

If you haven't heard recently, top shoe company Nike, has come out with the first basketball shoe made of recycled materials. They are called the Trash Talks and are composed of material scraps and they are endorsed by Pheonix Suns star player Steve Nash. The top of the shoe is composed of leather and synthetic scraps while the sole is made up of factory foam waste. The shoes feature the Suns colors and come with a box made of completly recycled cardboards.

Gasoline Prices For The Week Of Valentine's Day

By: Trisha, Kaylee, Kyra, & Noelle

National Average $1.95

Colorado Average $1.84

Grand Junction $1.86

Denver $1.80

Salt Lake City $1.66

Los Angeles $2.12

Seattle $2.18

Pheonix $1.96

Chicago $2.02

Dallas $1.83

Houston $1.80

Miami $2.06

New York $2.12

Source: AAA