Micron Carbon History Note

There has been a lot of conversation over carbon and the effect of particle size. It is clear that most have no appreciation of available surface area to the efficiency of a chemical process. We are all taught our little chemistry with soluble reagents omitting surface effects entirely.

Most people can get their minds around the idea that increased porosity means more surface area. That is a good start. What is poorly understood is that powdered carbon that can be derived from charring plant material can be presenting surface area orders of magnitude greater than that of wood char that retains a lot of its integrity.

My own experience with this is derived from work done in 1993 with some businessmen, who had contracted with a physicist who had worked in the area of artificial blood. They created a stable suspension of carbon by heating wood at a high temperature and running the resulting gases over a water surface. Gases and powdered carbon were absorbed into the water. A wait period served to allow the lights to remain on top while the heavies settled out. The active and stable center portion was drawn of. The particle size ran to a micron or less and was likely predominantly nano carbon particles. This made me conscious of the real potential of working with various products whose particle size approached this size distribution.

One of the first things that we learned was that a drop of this fluid nicely converted raw whiskey into a fine well aged quality whiskey. It also when sprayed on raw fish added ten days to refrigerator shelf life. In our case we were using it to create micro droplets of hyroluronic acid. The carbon was potent enough to grab the large acid molecules and wrap them up to form a droplet. At least that is what I think happened. We generated a stable suspension of micron sized droplets that acheived superior delivery to the skin surface. Methods such as this are very much in evidence today.

In this brave new world size is all important. Therefore it is no stretch at all to imagine powdered carbon collecting nutrients in a soil and holding them until a stronger biological agent comes along and removes it.

Therefore the best strategy for the manufacture of terra preta surely must involve the charcoaling of plant material lacking structural integrity. Corn, with its lack of woody material and annual nature and huge volume thus becomes an ideal feedstock.

It should also mean that it will take much less effort to create a productive soil if we are able to use such fine carbon powders produced without grinding.

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