[Biochar] Re: Biochar Price Point – upper limit is $120 per cubic yard delivered, benchmark Zeolites

I am responding to your two recent messages.   One (furthest below) was about developing societies with focus on labor, and the other (with extracts immediately below) was about developed societies and mechanized production. 

First, about price, you wrote:

120 per CY is about $600 per ton biochar by my estimate.  That would be the price to the end customer.  Involve a distributor, transportation, and subtract 30%. 

Subtract 33.3333% would be $80 per CY or about $400 per ton.

I am convinced that biochar production cost of $15 per CY are doable.  Possibly zero. If your biochar business model does not support such levels, I’m believe that in time you will face competitors that achieve those metrics.  Its going to happen.

By the same proportions (which is to multiply CY by 5 to get tons) , $15 per CY becomes $75 per ton, and with 1/3rd less, would become $10 per CY and about $50 per ton.   [If these equatings of CY and ton are acceptable to others (or with ranges or variations to be discussed), it would be good for us to have keep expressing these TWO equal values, just like we need to equate metric and imperial measurements.)

Shifting those numbers to the Wet Bangal area where we have actual figures for char production via TLUD stove usage, 10 tons per day would be income of $500 per day.  That would be only US$ 0.04 per household (12,000 households).   Those people are already receiving three times that much (about 12 cents) for their char (which is sold for burning in restaurants and small industry).

You wrote regarding developed societies:

There is a need for mobil carbonizers.  But those need to be paid for by someone who can afford to pay for that service because they need it.  Biochar prices will not support that activity without serious subsidy.  An alternative for someone who needs to remove biomass is to turn it into mulch, which has a well-established market. 

Note the focus that someone is doing some service (operational labor) for someone else who needs to pay the bill that must also include the cost of the equipment.  
That is not the reality in the developing world where people work for their own survival.  For them, the issues can include increased food supply and (in the case of Michael’s Thailand situation) the need to remove excess straw from the fields.

My point is that there really are two distinct conversations about two sets of issues.  Both are needed because of people being in such vastly different economic circumstances.

Note that one (affluent) needs up-front money for costly equipment and initial efforts.   And the other (minimal income) needs MANY of low-cost devices to have impact from large numbers of participants who would be disadvantaged if a large automated device meant that most of the people would not have even their minimal employment.. 

Both are going forward.

I agree that composting is important, but that has been going on for eons of time.   Our discussion is about how (and if) biochar can make a SIGNIFICANT difference, such as being a multi-year multiplier of the benefits of composting.


Doc  /  Dr TLUD  /  Prof. Paul S. Anderson, PhD  Email:  psanders@ilstu.edu  Skype:   paultlud    Phone: +1-309-452-7072  Website:  www.drtlud.com
On 3/21/2017 11:41 PM, Rick Wilson rww012@yahoo.com [biochar] wrote:

1217561910.340034.1490157696103@mail.yahoo.com” type=”cite”>  

Certainly low-income populations can not monetize their labor and thus would have a low value assigned to it.
But certainly these folks have a labor budget.  That is they only have so much labor to supply?.  
Is it the case the because they are poor, and can not afford automation, all their labor is consumed by menial tasks, and they would have no time to run biochar machines?
And if they have slack labor, why wouldn’t these folks engage in composting green waste instead of producing biochar?
Its a fascinating space, I would expect the unexpected, just like in micro-finance (the poorest people are the most credit worthy). 

From: “Paul Anderson psanders@ilstu.edu [biochar]” <biochar@yahoogroups.com&gt;
To: biochar@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 9:44 AM
Subject: Re: [biochar] Biochar Price Point – upper limit is $120 per cubic yard delivered, benchmark Zeolites



forget these small units the fixed costs will kill you.  

I disagree, and I am sure that Michael disagrees also.  Because we are dealing in the context of low-income populations that do their own labor.  

Your comments can be quite appropriate for the developed world.   But that is not the case for developing countries, especially the very poor people who are on the fringe at the very bottom of the pyramid.

Example from the Deganga case study.    12,000 yield 10 tons per day of good quality char appropriate for biochar.   And that is with cookstoves.   Michael is dealing with larger units.  I think that he is on the right track for those circumstances.


Doc  /  Dr TLUD  /  Prof. Paul S. Anderson, PhD  Email:  psanders@ilstu.edu">psanders@ilstu.edu  Skype:   paultlud    Phone: +1-309-452-7072  Website:  www.drtlud.com
On 3/21/2017 10:32 AM, Rick Wilson rww012@yahoo.com“>rww012@yahoo.com [biochar] wrote:


Michael, I completely agree with you the considering externalities biochar is the path as a society we need to be on.  

Biochar has a cost problem. Get the price down, and it can be a superior substitute to virtually every soil amendment.  It is not just a machine cost problem.  At a minimum, get to a certain scale, forget these small units the fixed costs will kill you.  Low feedstock cost is another enabler, waste products are best obviously. 

I simply put out there a price point, a true product competitor, that any farmer or landscaper would prefer because they live and die on their costs.  They are trying to survive until the next year.  Most biochar producers are asking at least twice the cost of zeolite.  Line in the sand. 


From: gmail.com’d.michael.shafer@gmail.com[biochar]” target=”_blank” href=”mailto:%27d.michael.shafer@gmail.com%27d.michael.shafer@gmail.com[biochar]”>”‘d.michael.shafer@gmail.com’ d.michael.shafer@gmail.com [biochar]” biochar@yahoogroups.com“><biochar@yahoogroups.com&gt;
To: biochar biochar@yahoogroups.com“><biochar@yahoogroups.com&gt;
Sent: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 3:04 AM
Subject: Re: [biochar] Biochar Price Point – upper limit is $120 per cubic yard delivered, benchmark Zeolites


Rick and all,

I think that it is important that we begin to consider biochar for more than it immediate utility as a product-at-hand, but instead, think of it as part of a complete supply chain in comparison to other products in their complete supply chains.

I happen to be particularly sensitive to this right now because I am in the middle of a defense of biomass power v. solar where everyone believes that solar is superior except that no one considers that biomass (1) employs people to harvest the feedstock, (2) employs people continuously to run the plant, (3) removes CO2 from the atmosphere, (4) averts the GHGs and particulates that would be released if the biomass is burned (which here it is), (5) throws off a tremendous amount of waste heat that can be used or converted to cold to run other businesses at a steep discount (cold stores, freezer plants, drying operations, slaughter houses, ice plants – all of which offer important possibilities for economic diversification), and (6) of course, the ash from the biomass plant has all sorts of virtues.

In a zeolite or diatomite v. biochar comparison, I will admit that to start my biases against mining show right away, since in all of its forms, even with surface deposits of something as wimpy as zeolite, mining is carbon-intensive. Then there is the shipping. And then there are all of the climate benefits not provided by biochar.

Rick is, of course, entirely correct that if the sole issue is the price point, then don’t push the price point. The world is littered with the skeletal remains of would-be businesses that thought that being good was enough to justify higher than market prices. But by the same token, the biochar community isn’t going to get far if it continues to fail to build a bigger and better box around biochar. After all, every one of the virtues of biochar is a cost averted. Someone is paying or going to have to pay that cost. If you can highlight that cost now and hammer on it, someday, someone is going to be smart enough to say, “gosh, look folks, there is a way to lower these huge [e.g., healthcare] costs if only we spend a little bit more and use biochar.”

Realistically, we should not expect any such “breakthrough” soon, in part because this sort of eureka thinking is uncommon in the public domain, but in large measure, because we, the biochar boys and girls, have failed entirely to wave the big signs with the obvious written on them for those of dimmer vision to read.

Rick, thanks for putting the fox among the chickens.


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On Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 1:39 PM, Rick Wilson rww012@yahoo.com“>rww012@yahoo.com [biochar] <biochar@yahoogroups.com“>biochar@yahoogroups.com> wrote:


Biochar group,  You may be aware that zeolites offer the same beneficial properties as biochar.

1.  Water holding capacity, about the same as a weathered biochar
2.  CEC.  Zeolites are 5-10X higher than Biochar.
3.  Zeolites bind metals much better than every biochar that I am aware of    
4.  Zeolites are offered in a range of well defined sizes, which means you can dial in permeation rate, and surface evaporation rate.

Delivered price $120 per cubic yard.

So for those of you who keep quoting me prices significantly above $120 per cubic yard delivered (about $600 per ton) take note. 

Rick Wilson


Posted by: Rick Wilson <rww012@yahoo.com&gt;

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