The charcol kiln

a safe way to produce charcoal, using two small barrels

Carbon doixide emitted from firewood and pyrolysis gas burningCarbon doixide emitted from firewood and pyrolysis gas burningCombustion of the pyrolysis gasses and the added firewoodPyrolysis gasses emitted when the bimass is hotAn ample flow of aiir Biomass turned into char during pyrolysisCombustion of the pyrolysis gasses and the added firewoodPyrolysis gasses emitted when the bimass is hotAn ample flow of aiir

In order to get a charcoal production method that

  • avoids emissions of methane during pyrolysis
  • is simple to build, even with small means
  • produces charcoal from the garden waste that is not easily added to the soil
  • makes a bit of atmospheric carbon reduction
  • supports the local ecosystem

-- this simple backyard/allotment/home garden sized system can be used.

The unit consists of two steel barrels. Only.

The smaller with no alterations a all. It is filled with dry biomass and put upside down in the larger one.

In the larger one, holes are cut on the side, some centimetres (an inch) above the bottom, large enough to let in an ample amount of air.

The larger barrel shold reach at least ten centimeters (4 inch) above the smaller vessel, to get a good "chimney"-effect, i.e. a strong draught from the air inlets, and a hot fire throughout the process.

  1. Fill the smaller vessel with dry biomass. The dryer it is, the easier it is to reach carbonisation temperaure.
    (To get the best char for soil amendment, this tmperature should be 350-450 C.)
  2. Put the smaller vessel upside down in the larger. (Since there is no lid on it, you will need to put it on the ground, turn over the larger vessel upside down, and then turn everything back again.). When the biomass starts pyrolysing, the gases will emit through the chink between the vessels.
  3. Fill the space between the vessels with dry firewood and light it. Since there is a good draught, it will start firing briskly, thus heating the biomass in the inner vessel. Add more firewood even during the next phase to be sure of complete charring.
  4. After about half an hour, the biomass starts emitting pyolysis gasses. They will catch fire when they enter the burning firewood and the air on the outside, and further increase the heat of the biomass.
    It is important that the pyrolysis gasses really catch fire, otherwise methane (
    a 20 times worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) will be emitted.
  5. When the pyrolysis is over, i.e. the biomass has turned into charcoal, the fire will go out and the char will start cooling. Wait for an hour, and then you have the char ready to be buried in the soil, in the compost, or used to adsorb urine.
The house-wall-well cycle

This system is aimed to be a 'backyard charring method' . It is cheap and easy to construct and handle, and meant to replace the backyard burning of twigs, taking place everywhere, with a method of increasing soil fertility at the same time as reducing CO2 in the air.

It is not meant as a large scale method, since the surplus gases, that could be of industrial use, are burnt and the useful heat is dissipated. (Although you could easily cook food on the fire if you put a grid on the top)

But it should be seen as an introduction to charring, and as an eye-opener for the usefulness of charcoal in the soil.

That the threat of climate change, in an infinitesimal way, simultaneously is reduced should be seen as a bonus.

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