Carbon Cascades Focusing on Biochar Solutions


Aries Clean Energy

Publication Date

June 26, 2019

We recently tuned in to a new webinar entitled: Carbon Cascades presented by Albert Bates and Kathleen Draper. Bates and Draper are well known ambassadors of the positive usages and study of biochar as they often collaborate on challenges, issues, and books. This webinar is part of the International Biochar Initiative webinar series.

They both believe strongly in the IBI mission: To provide a platform for fostering stakeholder collaboration, good industry practices, and environmental and ethical standards to support biochar systems that are safe and economically viable.

The goal of their collaboration, Carbon Cascades, is to:

  • Extend carbon’s life phase as a solid material
  • Slow down the conversion to (GHG) greenhouse gases (CO2 or CH4)
  • Entrain other GHG (SOx, NOx)
  • Pay for the process by adding useful products and services

Some of the ideas and projects mentioned that we found interesting include:

Traffic Tunnels In Italy

One of the non-land applications being investigated is taking place in Italy. It was reported that biochar is being sprayed on and tested in traffic tunnels in Italy. Biochar will absorb toxins that may seep through. Also, it is being tested for fire resistance in those tunnels.

Three-Dimensional Printing

Another potential future for biochar may be found in the three-dimensional printing industry. Bates and Draper discussed the testing taking place to substitute a biochar-type produce for plastics in this type of printing.

Paint Additive Possibilities

Another potential use for biochar that was mentioned could be as an additive for wall paint. When biochar is added to a primer coat of paint, it may help reduce mold and pollen in addition to corralling smells.

US Davis Biochar Database

The database was mentioned in the webinar as a resource available to all. To quote the website: This database does not provide recommendations for biochar use nor does it endorse any specific product. The database exists only as resource, with the specific objectives to:

  • Provide an open-access tool for end users interested in biochar as a  soil amendment to examine and compare data for a variety of biochar feedstocks;
  • Provide a reliable resource for academics and researchers by distinguishing between peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed data;
  • Provide a user-friendly site for sharing biochar characterization data;
  • Provide a mechanism for biochar manufacturers to present the characterization data of their biochar products to potential end users.

The UC Davis Biochar Database is funded in part by a grant from the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA-NIFA #2012-67009-20070) and also via the UC Davis Agriculture Sustainability Institute through a grant from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. It can be found here:

Stockholm Biochar Project

Stockholm has been working to address the challenge of the increasing amount of waste generated in urban spaces. In 2017, Stockholm opened its first large-scale biochar plant. The project lowers carbon emissions while engaging people in the fight against climate change. Residents provide garden waste to the city – the city converts it to biochar – and residents can use the biochar in gardens, etc. It is also sold to other agencies in the city to use in public parks.
Some of the reported results with biochar:

  • Trees stopped dying, grew 10x faster and in difficult locations
  • City reduced the risk of flooding from extreme storm events
  • Cleaned street water effluent before it polluted Baltic, saving nitrogen and potassium
  • Reduced the presence of particles and carbon dioxide in the air
  • Reduced the heat island effect
  • Locked carbon into the ground, meeting the Paris goals

Want to know more?

Check the IBI website for current webinars at

The webinar mentioned in this post may be viewed here:


Albert Bates is a retired attorney, educator, and founder of the Global Village Institute. His books include Climate in Crisis (1990); The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook (2006); The Biochar Solution (2009); The Paris Agreement (2015); and Transforming Plastic: From Pollution to Evolution (2019) He is a Board member of the US Biochar Initiative and an Ambassador for the Global Ecovillage Network.

Kathleen Draper is a member of the IBI Board and USBI Board. She is also the US Director of the Ithaka Institute for Carbon Intelligence. Draper works with various universities and individuals on projects that are investigating the use of biochar in composites and other building and packaging products to develop products with lower embodied carbon that can be made from locally available organic waste. She is editor of The Biochar Journal and a co-author of Terra Preta (2014) and (with Bates) Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth (2019).

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