Amazonian Terra Preta shows that we can sequester CO2 for millennia by turning waste biomass into charcoal and burying it. This simultaneously enhances soil fertility. Carbon dating of charcoal tens of thousands of years old shows that this form of carbon may be extremely stable and not return to CO2 in years or decades the way that all other forms of carbon do. See for Example “Black is the New Green” Nature442, 624-626 (10 August 2006) and

Research by the NSW Government Department of Primary Industries here in Lismore has shown that agricultural yields may double or triple by adding biochar to soils. NSW DPI release on Dr Lukas Van Zwieten trials . “When applied at 10t/ha, the biomass of wheat was tripled and of soybeans was more than doubled,”

This increased fertility persists. Indeed, charcoal added to Amazonian soils maintains enhanced fertility after more than 1000 years.

However, traditional methods and all current small scale methods of producing this biochar vent methane and carbon monoxide negating the climate gains.

Large scale , high tech methods of producing biochar solve this problem but cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars and therefore require biomass to be transported long distances and result in an expensive product. In Australia the only available biochar for example comes from BEST Energies and is produced by a pyrolyser that costs millions of dollars

Yet the problem of doing this on a low tech, farm scale does not appear to be insurmountable: it requires a retort kiln where all the methane and carbon monoxide are reliably burned. To do this requires a feedback mechanism ensuring sufficient oxygen for complete combustion. We believe that this could be accomplished so that a kiln able to char 3 cubic metres of agricultural waste, sawdust etc could be built for less than $5000. We request funding to enable us to research and test such a pyrolyser and then produce plans so that anyone could construct one.

This would mean that here in Northern NSW for example, farmers would have an alternative to annually “burning off” woody weeds as they could turn them into a product to enhance the fertility of their soils instead and, hopefully, in future allow them to receive payment for sequestering carbon

There has been considerable discussion on this topic at and we are in touch with a number of highly competent people who are helping us design, build and test an inexpensive, low tech pyrolyser.

We believe that with $10,000 we could complete and test a non-polluting prototype. The money would be needed for 2,500 fire bricks, 9 stainless steel retorts, stainless steel flues, fibresteel, pyrometer, carbon monoxide probes, sand, cement and other items that would become apparent as the trials proceeded. Rainforest Information Centre has granted $1000 to start the process and seeks another $9000 (or part thereof) from APE.

Once we have a satisfactory design, we would make this available free of charge.


JOHN SEED John Seed is founder and director of the Rainforest Information Centre Since 1979 he has been involved in the direct actions which have resulted in the protection of the Australian rainforests. In 1984 he helped initiate the US Rainforest Action Network which grew out of the first his many US roadshows. He has created numerous projects protecting rainforests in Sth America, Asia and the Pacific through providing benign and sustainable development projects for their indigenous inhabitants tied to the protection of their forests. These projects have been funded by the Australian Government aid agency AusAID, The Australian Council of Churches and various foundations. With Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming and Professor Arne Naess, he wrote "Thinking Like a Mountain - Towards a Council of All Beings" (New Society Publishers) which has now been translated into 10 languages.In 1995 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) by the Australian Government for services to conservation and the environment. In 2003 he spearheaded RIC's endangered species campaign and made the film "On The Brink" with David Attenborough, David Suzuki, Olivia Newton-John and Jack Thompson. In 2007 he launched the Rainforest Information Centre's climate change campaign and has offered "Climate Change, Despair & Empowerment" presentations and workshops in Australia, Canada and the US.


BSc., Industrial Arts (Technology), UNSW, Post-Graduate Diploma: Northern Rivers TAFE.

Geoff has built oscilloscopes, amplifiers, and low and high voltage equipment , has taught “Investigating Technology” at various schools and Alstonville Gifted and Talented Group. Skilled in electronics soldering, welding, advanced auto mechanics and materials science.

Designed and constructed high pressure Pelton wheel microhydro and 110v transmission line.

Designed and built ferrocement water tanks using Fibresteel , Extensive fibrecrete R&D. Founding member of Appropriate Community Technology Association, Designed and built fired-in-the-fuel-stove pelton wheel cup moulds and cups. Founding member of Alternative Science and Technology Research Organisation,

Current project is with Climate Change Action Network, producing demo/prototype of 3m solar parabolic tracked dish, expecting, 4 hp., and 7 days storage, 35 – 40% efficiency - Stirling motor electrical conversion. Seven published articles on Biochar in The Terania Times, The Nimbin Magazine, Going Organic and The Village Journal.

PAUL TAYLOR BS Honors University New South Wales, Ph.D. University Colorado Physics. Past positions: Research Scientist, Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, Senior scientist University Newcastle Physics, Research Scientist at Harvard/ Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, Visiting Scientist Harvard and M.I.T, VP SaveTel Communications, Co-Founder and Director Millennialgoods.com, a supplier of alternative energy products and solutions, VP US Energy Solutions, supplier and installer of Alternative energy systems.

DR. LUKAS VAN ZWEITEN is researching biochar at the Wollongbar Research Station for the NSW Department of Primary Industries. This is one of the two principal world biochar agricultural test sites. He has published extensively on the subject. He has pioneered Pyrograms which reveal characteristic signatures for chars produced from different feedstock and has agreed to test the various chars that we produce.

ADAM JUNG – Blacksmith