[Got Biochar?] Rowdy Yeatts, Founder and CEO of High Plains Biochar, discusses the company’s RocketChar 301 technology for farm-scale and community-scale biochar production. Dubbed the “Prius” of Biochar technologies, RocketChar is very simple and elegant in design, allowing for easy in-field operation by non-engineering users. From Indiana to India, the technology has world-wide applications and can even be used in off-grid situations, as it is capable of generating its own electricity for operation controls.
Biochar is a form of charcoal that can be made from a variety of organic material, including woody biomass, corn stover, hemp stalks, and even cattle manure. Like charcoal, the char is made through a process called pyrolysis in which oxygen is limited, causing the biomass to smolder. The process creates substantial micro-tubule caverns in the material, resulting in a sponge-like, water absorbing, and soil micro-organism habitat that boosts soil building and carbon sequestration performance substantially. One gram of biochar is estimated to have 200 to 300 square meters of surface area as a result of this capillary porosity. Although precision technology is emerging to make biochar on a massive scale world-wide, the technique is an ancient one, made for centuries by pre-contact indigenous societies in Amazonia (such biochar is known as Terra Preta), and by many other folk and indigenous peoples around the planet. Now with the world-wide activation of robust carbon credit markets, and increasing demand for such credits from a variety of corporate and philanthropic buyers, biochar production is poised to scale exponentially, and could be capable of sequestering one gigaton (one billion tons) of atmospheric carbon annually.
About Rowdy Yeatts & High Plains Biochar
Originally from Casper, Wyoming, Rowdy attended high school and college in Oklahoma where he graduated from Oklahoma State University with a business degree. With a long-time interest in building and metal fabrication, Rowdy owned a boat dock construction business before founding High Plains Biochar in collaboration with the Kansas and Nebraska Forest Service agencies. In 2021 Rowdy and High Plains Biochar participated in Microsoft’s funded accelerator called gBeta, and in 2022 the company was selected for a US Department of Energy technology accelerator called REACH which is administered by Colorado State University and Innosphere Ventures in Fort Collins, Colorado. The company is also collaborating with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union to develop a carbon credit cooperative model for its biochar customers and RocketChar producers. In 2022 Kevin Johnson joined the High Plains Biochar executive management team and is working closely with Rowdy to scale up manufacturing, sales, and capitalization of the company’s activities.
LINKS, RESOURCES, AND RELATED EPISODES
Episode 91 – Finean Makepeace, Co-Producer, Kiss the Ground Movie
Episode 89 – Dr. Yichao Rui, Chief Soil Scientist, Rodale Institute
Episode 70 – Jeff Moyer, CEO, Rodale Institute