It appears I may be meeting someone on my upcoming trip to Tasmania (less than 2 weeks – so excited) that is in to big Wind Development and has a growing interest in biochar. This reminded me of a novel idea I had about possibly combining these two for some low tech frost protection for orchards and vineyards.
First a bit about frost protection, which was sorely needed in the North East last Winter given the Polar Vortex and all. Across the Lake in Canada they seem to use large windmills (powered by fossil fuels) a lot more frequently than we do in the Finger Lakes. Heaters, fans and sprinkler systems are used in orchards, vineyards and other perennial crops, each having their pros and cons. Some places even use helicopters as a high tech and high cost solution to high damage. Low tech yet high pollution solutions such as smudge pots are still used in some places in a desperate attempt to keep Jack Frost from wreaking havoc on perennial crops.
So what makes me think that a combo of biochar & wind could be added to the list of Frost Avengers? Why my Eco-Fan of course! I bought this nifty little gadget last year not totally convinced it would work but in fact it is more effective at blowing hot air than some politicians I know! And it works completely on the thermal energy produced by my wood burning stove. This led me to thinking that perhaps a supersized version of this contraption could be put on top of a TLUD or built atop continuous feed Combined Heat and Biochar (CHAB) units to stave off the frost monster. The cost of the fuel for running these machines would be exactly nada since orchards and vineyards generally have lots of biomass from pruning. And the really good news is that those frosty nights would generate lots of biochar which could then be used on the orchard come spring time. Heck I have even heard that in Japan they use charcoal to help melt snow and the darker color on the soil could help heat up the soil sooner in the spring.
I confess I really have no idea if this is technically feasible at larger scales than my little Eco-Fan, so I challenge all you Susty engineers to turn FAN-tasy into reality…