Ages of charcoal launches public lecture series

video-14x44.gif Watch a video of the lecture here.


Professor Jim Jones in his biochar workshop.


Charcoal’s changing use over time is the subject of the first talk in this year's series of public lectures at the Wellington campus next Thursday.

Chemical engineer Professor Jim Jones will examine our association with charcoal and the process that creates it, from the earliest humans to the industrial revolution, the chemicals industry and the activated carbons of the 20th century.

“Charcoal had receded into the economic backwaters of developed nations – fuelling barbecues and finding speciality niches where there was a need for high purity carbon,” Professor Jones says. “However, while the millennia sped by, charcoal was finding a place in subsistence agriculture as a soil amendment. The significance of this has been realised only recently.”

As professor of biochar, at the University, he is part of a team examining the production of biochar from New Zealand biomass – or organic matter – setting it apart then adding it to soil.

"Turning biomass to biochar captures and locks away carbon that was extracted from the atmosphere during growth, which has implications for climate change.

“Global warming is on the international agenda and in order to meet global emission targets there is a projected need to ‘go negative'. Carbonising plant material and adding it to soil can get us there. As you will see, charcoal has a history and a future.”

Professor Jones’ lecture, Man-made charcoal - From Prehistory to the Biochar Future, will be at the Museum Building theatrette, Buckle St, Wellington, at 6pm.

Limited seating, RSVP (acceptance only) required by August 3. Email with Jim Jones in the subject line.

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