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Terra preta contains up to 70 times more black carbon (BC) than the surrounding soils.

Due to its polycyclic aromatic structure, black carbon is believed to be chemically and microbiologically inert (but see later) and persists in the soil for centuries, if not thousands of years.

IBI is also working with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification to promote biochar in the post-Kyoto climate agreement.

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Biochar is just charcoal, produced by burning organic matter such as wood, grasses, crop residues and manure, under conditions of low oxygen (pyrolysis).

A number of different pyrolysis techniques exist depending on temperature, speed of heating, and oxygen delivery [6, 7], resulting in different yields of biochar and co-products, “bio-oil” (with energy content value approx 55 percent that of diesel fuel by volume) and “syn-gas” (a mixture of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons), which can be used to generate electricity, or as low-grade fuel for ships, boilers, aluminium smelter and cooking stoves.

Unfortunately, the analysis is largely based on assumptions.

Biochar is now found to be not quite as stable as claimed and can speed up litter decomposition in the soil (see below).

Furthermore, the acceleration of deforestation spurred by the biofuels boom since 2003 appears to coincide with a substantial steepening of the O Burying charcoal to save the climate The International Biochar Initiative (IBI), according to its website [4], was formed in July 2006 at a side meeting of the World Soil Science Congress at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States, by people from academic institutions, commercial ventures, investment banks, non-government organizations and federal agencies around the world, dedicated to research, development, demonstration, deployment, and commercialisation of biochar on a global scale.

IBI has introduced biochar into the 2008 US Farm Bill, so it now counts among a handful of “new, high-priority research and extension areas”.

A lifecycle analysis published in 2008 [21] by John Gaunt and Johannes Lehmann, principal biochar proponent at Cornell University, New York, in the United States, considered both purpose grown bioenergy crops (BEC) and crop wastes (CW) as feedstock.

The BEC scenario involves a change from growing winter wheat to miscanthus, switchgrass, and corn as bioenergy crops.

The UN declared 2008 the year of the Global Food Crisis (see [18] Food Without Fossil Fuels Now, Si S 39); food riots and fuel protests were rife.

UK’s Environment Audit Committee joined the call for moratorium in January 2008 [19], and reiterated it in May 2008 [20].

During this time, oxidation produces carboxylic groups increasing its nutrient-holding capacity.

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