What is biochar?  That was also where Petey had to start with his new found calling.  Bio and char, it sounded like living charcoal. So Petey did what all great 21st century entrepreneurs did, he went to YouTube U to research biochar.

For those seeking scientific descriptions and more in-depth research, visit International Biochar Initiative and Regeneration International.

For all else, the following is a simple description.  To make a fire, one needs heat, fuel and oxygen. If there is heat and a fuel source but no oxygen present, there is no combustion, but instead a process called pyrolysis (pīˈräləsəs).  These volatile gases and liquids like methane and wood tars “sweat” out of the organic materials and are utilized as a fuel source to generate clean energy.  With the gases and liquids cooked off, the remaining material is a high carbon product known as biochar.  

So, wait.  We can use locally available materials to generate clean energy and capture carbon?  How is it done?

This was the next step for Petey on his new calling.  He knows what biochar is and how to use it. But how would he make it?

Back to YouTube U, Petey discovered videos detailing homemade charcoal retorts.  Using a (55) gallon barrel from Austin EastCiders, and a 35 gallon drum from another beverage company, Petey assembled his first charcoal retort, and named it Char-Lee.  (pictured below)

Char-Lee was capable of producing charcoal every 24 hours due to the cooling requirements.  Petey learned the hard way after two weeks of supply caught on fire and nearly burned down his house.  With all his product burned, Petey now had to scale production to replenish his reserves. So he built Char-Lotte, Char-Reese, Char-Lemaine, Char-char and Char-La.  

With daily production from six retorts, the next step in starting a business is sales.  Tune in next week at this same biochar hour to learn about Petey’s next failures.


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