Saturday, October 22, 2011

Adam-Retort : Bio Char the future

It does not stop growing 

Turning more waste to wealth
At Eco Centro we also receive at least 4m3 of bio mass per day and with construction and renovations of Villas and Host accommodation plus furniture making we gather more timber “Waste or Wealth?”

We are able to chip some of the bio mass for the Composting process we use here “The Berkeley Method” as covered in previous blogs and to make mulch as well. After doing this we still have extra as a tropical jungle never stops growing.

How else can we create Wealth – Charcoal and Bio Char?
On arriving at Eco Centro there was two pyrolysis ovens that converted wood waste into Charcoal which is used as a fuel for the BBQ’s 

Bio Char 10 % compost mix

When Charcoal is crushed to a powder it is then called Bio Char to improve soils for agriculture through sequestering carbon back into impoverished soils. We add 10 % of Bio Char into our compost mix. Bio char increases the surface area and also increases moisture retention allowing for greater microbial activity.

The CSIRO Australia describe Bio Char as
 “A stable form of charcoal produced from heating natural organic materials (crop and other waste, woodchips, manure) in a high temperature, low oxygen process known as pyrolysis. Due to its molecular structure, biochar is chemically and biologically in a more stable form than the original carbon form it comes from, making it more difficult to break down. This means that in some cases it can remain stable in soil for hundreds to thousands of years.”

Presidents Actors Business Men  talking Pyrolysis

We have recently bought the license to build an “Adams Retort” The license covers the build of 6 Retorts.

We have now made 4 batches of charcoal and are very happy with the Retort. The most recent batch results are as below:

Old Pyrolysis Ovens

Building New Adam Retort

Raja Ravi Mani ready to save the world

Charcoal production

15/10/11 burn 3

1000 kg of construction wood from villa repairs

Oven full

Burn time – 5am -8pm / total 15 hours

11.30 am chimney 1 shut down 210 c

O2 accelerator opened at 9am -11.30 am – 2.5 hours

Gasification lasted 8.5 hours

Total wood burnt – scrap construction ply 125 kg

Total Charcoal 390 kg

Stage 1 drying the wood

Methane gas "Gasification "  burning


Fuel and soil food 

I strongly advise looking into the process of making Bio Char as it could be the answer to Climate Change????

Another sustainable system to add into your PermacultureDesign

Below is information from the Retort Web site
Or contact Chris  ( )
Check the video about the "adam-retort" under:

Did You know:
CHARCOAL from RETORT SYSTEMS can often serve as a replacement for fossil fuels,
thereby having a neutral effect on CO
² exchanges.
This makes a significant positive contribution to the preservation of our environment!
Also using charcoal to improve soils for agriculture
(bio char) becomes more and more important
Advantages of the "adam-retort":
1) High economy and better efficiency of approx. 35% to 45% (Instead of about 18% efficiency compared to the traditional systems; calculated from dry weight).
2) Recycling and clean combustion of the pyrolysis gas during the 2nd phase of operation (retort-system) results in a low-emission of carbon monoxides during the charcoal production! The effective carbonization of the biomass takes only 10 hours.
A retort system reduces the emission of harmful volatiles into the
atmosphere to about up to 75%! (Compared to a traditional earth-mount kiln).
3) Low investment costs of about ~500Euroand a simple construction with locally available materials. (Costs were about 300 Euro in Kenya in 2004, but now with raising steel prices costs increased...) .
4) About 3m3 of biomass (corresponding to approx. 600kg to 900kg wood, coconut shells, compacted saw-dust briquettes, etc., dry weight, water not counted, or ~1-1,5 tons of wet wood) can be converted to up to 350kg of charcoal per batch. Per week about 3 batches of biomass can be carbonized which is corresponding to about ~1 ton of charcoal per week and unit.
5) An effective 30 hour total production cycle (known as batch) and a simple operation of the plant result in an increased income for its operators. The right system to be used at forest projects, sustainable energy-wood plantations and charcoal makers in rural areas or for semi-industrial production.
6) Only waste wood or residual biomass needs to be burnt (~50kg) in a separate fire box to dry and heat the wood and initiate the carbonization process during the 1st phase.
7) With an extended version the famous "white charcoal" should be possible to be produced? This is an adapted Japanese technology to produce high quality and strong charcoal.
Also the production of "wood vinegar" is possible during the 1st phase of operation.


  1. Hi Mark
    I am very interested in permaculture in Maldives. I would like to know more about this project. How do I get in contact with you?

    I am a professor in soil biology in Sweden and I am involved in biocharprojects in Africa.

    Best regards
    Håkan Wallander

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Mark,

    Hi, didn't realise you had moved on. Drop me a line - I need to have a chat soonest.


  4. Hakan,

    As well as working in the Maldives I am starting some charcoal trials in Kenya using agricultural wastes. Very interested to know what you are working on. Dorp me a line if you can, and it would be good to compare notes.

  5. Replies
    1. please contact Chris Adams on the contact in the article

  6. hi i need to know how the machine runs and made exactly so plz if u can let me it would b great

  7. Hi the best thing is to contact chris adams the developer of the retort. his contact is in the article. he can discuss the way to secure the plans to build one.

    1. Hi Mark
      I have tried to get hold of Chris Adam, however he has not replied to my emails.
      I am not sure if I have sent to the right address, Please can you foward his details to me.
      I wish to build a Adam Retort in South Africa.
      My email is any infomation or contact details would be much appreciated.

  8. Hi
    can you give the full design drawing for constructing the adam retort?

  9. Hi

    i has just write a post about your Retort kiln at this page using some pictures of your page:

    Please take a look if you think i need to edit any infos or any comment?

    This is just a post to introduce the Adam Retort Kiln to other people in my website ( my website mainly about charcoal kiln and making charcoal )

    Thanks u
    Nhat Khoa