Pacific Northwest Biochar Initiative

The Pacific Northwest Biochar Initiative, founded by John Mediema in 2009, is comprised of academics, researchers, engineers, foresters, farmers, policy experts and business leaders that examine biochar and its possibilities for the Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwest is a fertile ground for promoting biochar as an essential tool in the mitigation of global warming and advancing the development of biochar as a soil enhancer. Not only does the Pacific Northwest have the available biomass to support biochar production, but the region has a unique culture of people with the talent and enthusiasm to promote sustainability. Assimilating key experts enables us to advance the production, research, and utilization of biochar.

The PNW group has quickly gathered together an amazing brain trust that has the potential to design, engineer and implement a vertically integrated sustainability model in order to capture and bury carbon in the soil. This process treats excess atmospheric carbon as a resource to be harvested and utilized for carbon reductive thermal energy to drive the retooling of the Pacific Northwest's infrastructure. Initial goals are to develop sustainability protocols, a field trials network, and a PNW conference.

The PNW group held a two-day conference at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington on May 21st-22nd, 2011. More than 85 attendees heard presentations from scientists and practitioners. A focus of the meeting was to look at sustainability standards for biochar. An open discussion and brainstorming session began to identify some issues in our forested region of the Pacific Northwest. Participants also exchanged ideas about potential business models and marketing.

Meet John Miedema, founder of the Pacific Northwest Biochar Initiative

John Mediema

John Miedema is a recognized leader and developer of biochar technology. As the Director of Biomass Energy for Thompson Timber and Starker Forests in Philomath, Oregon, John has built and now operates an integrated pyrolysis and gasification facility on site at a log-chipping yard. His biochar facility produces formulated biochars, materials which are proving particularly effective in filtration and for agricultural use. The materials are produced with various streams of waste feedstock from the farming, livestock, and timber industries. Today these designer chars are being utilized in research at a number of universities and government projects.

John is also the founder of the Pacific Northwest Biochar Initiative (PNW Biochar) and has been taking a leadership role in biochar advocacy and research since 2008. In addition to long stints as an Alaskan fisherman and an electrical contractor, John has spent the past two decades studying sustainable energy systems integrated with agriculture resource management.