Dear Reader...

I hope you have enjoyed the first few installments of A Field Guide to Biochar Water Treatment. It’s been fun for me figuring out the Substack platform. (Please let me know what bugs or issues you come across!) I can already tell there are many ways this experience will benefit the overall book.

My plan over the coming weeks and months is to break up the chapters into sections for posting once or twice per week. I’ve got sections already lined up from now through November set to be published each Tuesday and Friday. I’ll do my best to stick to the twice-a-week publishing schedule, though when the book gets into more involved hands-on sections down the road it could be a challenging pace to maintain. But I love a challenge! I’m grateful to be accountable to you for providing regular installments.

I plan to offer the remaining sections of Chapter 1 free to anyone signed up on the email list. With Chapter 2 it will switch over to a subscription service (although from time-to-time I will probably post some additional, free-for-everyone content). With that in mind, I want to provide an abbreviated working Table of Contents so that subscribers have an idea of what you’re getting for your support of this project.

Part I - Background and Technical Primer

Chapters 1 through 3 provide the relevant background on the importance of chemicals in overall water quality and water-sanitation-hygiene (WASH) development, a method for arriving a specific set of indicator sentinel chemicals used for assessing biochar adsorbents and designing treatment systems, and a primer on adsorption: how adsorbents are generated, how they work to remove pollutants, and practical plain-language summary of the peer-reviewed research that forms the basis of biochar water treatment.

  • Chapter 1 - The importance of chemical toxicants in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) provision

  • Chapter 2 - ‘Priority pollutants’ and chemicals of emerging concern

  • Chapter 3 - Adsorption: A cost-effective treatment process for chemical contaminants

Part II - Putting Biochar Water Treatment Into Practice

With the fundamentals under our belt, we get to the good stuff. This section of the book provides practical instruction on making biochar adsorbent using low-tech methods, engineering the design and operation of biochar contactors, integrating biochar adsorption with other treatment processes for addressing overall water quality, and monitoring biochar water treatment systems in the field to provide quality assurance.

  • Chapter 4 - Making biochar adsorbent

    This chapter covers selection and preparation of biochar feedstock, building and operating a biochar pyrolyzer from start-up to shut-down, a variety of process adaptations and add-ons, and methods for processing raw biochar for use in water treatment.

  • Chapter 5 - Design and operation of biochar contactors

    This chapter details the factors affecting the design and operation of biochar water treatment systems including assessment of household and community water needs, source water options, hardware availability, and chemical contaminants of concern. It provides a kit of spreadsheet-based and “computerless” tools for the design of treatment systems, and instructions for disposal or regeneration of spent biochar adsorbent.

  • Chapter 6 - Integrating biochar adsorption with other treatment processes

    This chapter describes how to link biochar contactors with other pre- and/or post- treatment unit processes to address a variety of water quality issues including biological pathogens and taste/odor concerns.

  • Chapter 7 - Monitoring biochar water treatment systems in the field

    This chapter provides instruction on how important water quality parameters are measured in the lab and how they can be measured in the field - and if they can’t readily be measured in the field, how proxy measurements work to provide quality assurance of biochar water treatment systems.

  • Chapter 8 - Resources for conducting biochar water treatment workshops and installations

    This chapter provides a bevy of tools and resources collected over years of experience conducting biochar water treatment workshops with communities in low-resource settings, WASH practitioners, and University students and researchers.

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Image: the author at Aqueous Solutions’ project in Koh Bok village, southern Karen State, Burma, 2014.