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Chronicle of Higher Education, December 3, 2004
Earth Movers Archaeologists say Brazil's rain forest, once thought to be inhospitable to humans, fostered huge ancient civilizations. The proof is in the dirt. By MARION LLOYD:
Iranduba, Brazil--High along bluffs overlooking the confluence of the mighty Negro and SolimÃµes Rivers here, supersize eggplants, papayas, and cassava spring from the ground.
Their exuberance defies a long-held belief about the Amazon. For much of the last half century, archaeologists viewed the South American rain forest as a "counterfeit paradise," a region whose inhospitable environment precluded the development of complex societies. But new research suggests that prehistoric man found ways to overcome the jungle's natural limitations -- and to thrive in this environment in large numbers.
The secret, says James B. Petersen, an archaeologist at the University of Vermont who has spent the past decade working in the Brazilian Amazon, is found in the ground beneath his feet. It is a highly fertile soil called terra preta do indio, which is Portuguese for "Indian black earth." By some estimates, this specially modified soil covers as much as 10 percent of Amazonia, the immense jungle region that straddles the Amazon River. And much of that area is packed with potsherds and other signs of human habitation.
"This was one of the last archaeological frontiers on the planet. It's as if we know nothing about it," says Mr. Petersen, as he analyzes the discovery of the day, a series of circular carbon deposits that might indicate the outline of a prehistoric house. ....
Oilgood wrote:I'm asking if it is possible to re-create Terra Preta in other soils and climates throughout the world.
The research has implications not only for history, but also for the future of the Amazon rain forest. If scientists could discover how the Amerindians transformed the soil, farmers could use the technology to maximize smaller plots of land, rather than cutting down ever larger swaths of jungle. The benefits of what Mr. Petersen calls this "gift from the past" are already well known to farmers in the area, who plant their crops wherever they find terra preta. ...
"I know terra preta is very good and that it was made by the Indians," says Edson Azevedo Santos, a 48-year-old farmer drenched in sweat from weeding his zucchini patch. Unlike the acidic soil found in most of the rain forest, which can only sustain crops for a three-year period, terra preta plots can withstand constant farming for decades, if properly managed.
Even more striking, terra preta may have the capacity to regenerate itself, says Mr. Woods, the Southern Illinois geographer. He recently tested that possibility by removing a large section of terra preta on a plot near Santarem. To his amazement, the soil grew back within three years. "I suggested that the soil should be treated as living organism and that microorganisms are the secret," he says, adding that more research is needed to allow scientists to repeat the process. "This is very sophisticated stuff."
"Earth Movers" article
You don't use coal to produce biochar! WTF!funzone36 wrote:Biochar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biochar
It's produced from biomass pyrolysis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrolysis
Basically, it's heating up the organic materials in the absence of
oxygen until it becomes biochar. Biochar is supposed to be a carbon
storage solution but in order to store enough carbon, tons and tons
of biochar has to be produced. Do we have the necessary energy to
produce enough biochar? I believe yes, we have enough energy
because of coal supplies. Because biochar stores CO2, that
means using coal to produce biochar has no net CO2
emission. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Narration: Adding up to 10 tonnes of agrichar per hectare reduces the amount of carbon dioxide given off while tripling the weight of the crop or its biomass.
As well as that they measure another gas that’s important for global warming, nitrous oxide.
Dr Lukas van Zwieten: Certainly nitrous oxide is a very serious greenhouse gas, it’s 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
One of the things that really was quite surprising – we didn’t expect it – was that the emissions of nitrous oxide from soil were significantly reduced.
Narration: The kiln is heated to 550 degrees by burning the syngas.
Adriana Downie: It’s actually our own energy we’re producing in the plant that we’re firing it on.
Narration: The win-win is that half of the carbon in the biomass makes the syngas fuel, while the other half stays in the char.
The amount of agrichar trickling out the end of this pilot plant won’t change the world, but making it on an industrial scale certainly could.
Adriana Downie: What we put in provides enough energy to run the process, as well as then export energy for other people to use for their processes.
eclipse wrote:You forgot to say </rant>
Unless you convert the synthesis gas to methanol (pain in the ass),eclipse wrote:What if we ran the cooker on solar power? Concentrated solar power
gets up to thousands of degrees, this baby only needs 550. What if a
future "powerdown" village of some sort fed their agriwaste into a
local Biochar "cooker" like this, and instead of burning a lot of the
syngas/fuel running the process the next day, we geared the Pyrolysis
plant for Synfuel and then used ALL the Biochar synfuel for running
agriculture. Wouldn't this then give that village a lot more liquid fuel to
at least run their agriculture?
Though I may have made things sound difficult, as you canWoodgas
Wood gas is very fairly easy to produce as demonstrated with this paint can.
Woodgas Camping Stove
Methane can be produced in a home digester and bagged for use or
pumped into a tank and used much like propane.
http://www.diaphragmhandpump.com/bio_ga ... _pump.html
Cooking in the city
People are working on systems producing both "biochar and energy"
Traditional charcoal making in Lempira, Honduras, has changed little
over the years. A modern pyrolysis plant has the potential to
produce energy as well as biochar more cleanly.
http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/ ... ochar.html
A reasonable assumption and based on your smile, here are a feweclipse wrote:Hi Steam cannon... with a name like that, can I assume you're into Steampunk?
A SteamPunk’s Guide to the Apocalypse
Archimedes Steam Cannon
http://web.mit.edu/2.009/www/experiment ... annon.html
The worlds simplest steam powered boat
http://scitoys.com/scitoys/scitoys/ther ... .html#boat
eclipse wrote:Speak for yourself, I briefed Maxine McKew on peak oil last year, just 3 days before Dr Roger Bezdek's "Smart Conference" 2007 speech. So she knew a little enough to introduce Dr Roger Bezdek. Then she defeated John Howard at the Federal Election.
There's only 1 or 2 threads I'm consistently ranting in on Sydney Peak Oil... the group I helped found so we could BRIEF POLITICIANS and connect campaigners... but due to burnout, I've resigned as "leader" there. It's now just another peaknik chat group... they don't meet any more. The leaders did some great stuff for a group of newbie volunteers, including getting permission from the EOS team to cut their DVD into 30 minutes and distribute it to every politician in the NSW Parliament (Thanks again EOS TEAM! )
But we've all got various personal commitments, are not selling any books or making any money out of this... and Australia has had a number of government peak oil reports. Mission accomplished as far as government awareness... but hardly begun as far as the general public. We'll, too bad. They'll just have to endure a tougher Great Depression for every year they put off making the requisite changes.
So... you might have time to rant and do NOTHING... I've already done SOMETHING and am pretty much "retired" from it as other personal challenges have come up. Good luck with the ranting!
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