AK Root Cellar

Pete Kinneen grew up in a family conscious of the magic of composting food scraps and yard waste for use in their organic gardens. He is the executive director of Environmental Recycling, Inc. the non-profit which operated the Pt. Woronzof Composting Facility for 15 successful years. He has joined a global discovery exploring the possibility of another natural and inexpensive ingredient found to kick convention to the curb. Join in, the more the merrier.

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Biochar Promises New Recycling Options and Better Food

Old pizza boxes, yard debris, fallen fence boards, raggedy cotton jeans, “unrecyclable paper,” scrap pallets, horse manure and virtually any organic material is about to find a new recycle market right here in Alaska.

And any size material will work from a whole cottonwood tree to the cork from a wine bottle.

Organic matter is just about anything made from a plant or animal. Now it can be locally pyrolyzed into biochar which is charcoal made to be permanently placed in the soil. Usually the soil of a farmer or gardener.

Biochar is electrically charged and incredibly porous. The combination attracts nutrients migrating through the ground and provides free “condominiums” to the microbes attracted to the nutrients. They in turn feed the plant roots through the system we are just beginning to understand. The system we refer to as the soil food web.

Instead of wearing out the lands’ fertility with the addiction of ever increasing volumes of chemical fertilizer, the one time addition of biochar acts to build up a self sustaining natural soil system.

What is now considered trash can be locally manufactured into useful biochar. Results include sustainable local agriculture, profitable farmers, permanent carbon sequestration to begin reversing harmful climate change.

Pyrolyzing is the oxygen deprived heat process of fractionating organic matter into useful components.

Instead of filling land with decaying organics which release their carbon and methane gas into the atmosphere, pyrolyzing creates nondegrading mineralized carbon.

Instead of greenhouse gas emissions this process captures the gas as clean bio-oil to be substituted for petrofuels. And bio-oil does not compete with food crops the way other alternative fuels do.

Deep in the woods of an undisclosed Kenai Peninsula location the parts for Alaska’s first known pyrolyzing machine are gathered. Soon they will be welded together and brought to Anchorage for the production of biochar.

If the model holds up in production this machine will convert whatever organic material is fed into it and produce two initial products. Biochar and bio-oil. That means the machine powers the augers, grinders, conveyors, etc. without any outside energy. Only the energy created out of the waste matter itself.

And up to half the original organic material is converted to permanently sequestered biochar which does not enter the atmosphere as it would from decaying organics.

Instead, it remains year after year growing our famous Alaska size vegetables. Or it might end up in your lawn or flower bed giving you the greenest lawn or richest colored flowers on your street. How cool is that?

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