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Natural Building & appropriate technology’s blog 25

Article 25 of Natural Building and Appropriate Tech Internship


Super Sunny day! It is hard to believe that we are in the middle of April here at the Koanga Institute. It hot and even during the night I have stopped needing three layers of blankets.

Friday, Enlighted Ben is leaving the internship, he is going back to Japan one week earlier. So today we had a special workshop biochar day leaded by Ben! As every morning we begun with our morning check-in and went into the classroom where Ben gave us an amazing lesson on Biochar, underlying perfectly the main principles and goals and also a few different design.


Super interesting class. Everyone is captivated.

Then, direction the workshop to spend the day building Biochar. Luckily Yotam donate to us a whole bunch of pipe that he was going to use for a rocket mass heater but it never happened and it is a perfect material for us to use. So like little bees in the hive everyone took the tools they needed and begun build their own.


Silus and his simple pipe design

It was a very noisy day at the workshop having everyone using tools everywhere. Sadly the oxygen bottle on the oxy-torch was empty! Poor of us! But Tom showed us some incredible skills with the angle grinder to cut into a gas bottle a perfect circle.

And as we go through our design and then to the practice it doesn’t always work as excepted.


Ben blowing to increase the primary air into the system, which is… quiet smoky.

Myself I worked on a very simple design. The biochar retort, which is basically a container with the material inside and a few holes. The concept is that you can chunk this container into a fire, this pyrolizes the material, splitting of many gases and living behind the carbon.  The gases comes out of the holes and get burned in the fire, which helps it’s process. I did my container with two equal size tin can. I crimped the top of one to make it fit into an other.


The container getting heated in the fire, you can guess that in the middle of the container the flames that shows up is the gas from the inside of the container coming out and getting burned.

And I was very surprised to see how well it worked!


Here is the result. Beautiful biochar made out of pine needles. And you can see how I crimped one can to fit into the other.

This biochar workshop has been a really good success. We also had the chance to have Big Ben and Shelly finishing the barbecue that is just a beautiful piece of art.



Tom has been working hard on his own little project, the rabbit system. I really enjoy passing by and seeing him working steadily on his structure. Step by step, beam by beam it is going up.


There will be rabbit soon!

And always the building, the team has now a cement mixer to mix our light earth and it works great. It able us to go way faster.


Big Ben on the mix!


 ~Oscar Morand, 17 April 2013, Natural Building and Appropriate Technology Intern

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