Border Partners has been involved in the development of a new kind of heater for homes. It burns pecan shells and, in addition to heat, produces an additive for gardens called biochar. Despite the fact that Palomas is located in an area that many people think is always warm, it is common there at night, for the temperature to dip into the teens. Many people in Palomas live in poorly insulated, cement block houses and don’t have adequate heating units. Because of this, Peter Edmunds from Border Partners, joined an effort several years ago. The project, led by by Bill Knaus and Jamie Thomson from Silver City, set out develop a stove that could heat homes for a reasonable cost. But it did more than that. It also produced biochar, a carbon byproduct very useful to enrich our garden soils.
Four of these stoves have been used by our staff and others in their homes since 2016. They’ve received good results. The stoves heat well and, in addition, produce biochar from the pecan shells they burn. Over the years, designers made some improvements to the original design. They fixed issues and glitches they discovered. Flash forward to now: in the last few weeks, we’ve installed ten more stoves with a new and improved design in additional Palomas homes.
Each stove produces upwards of a ton of biochar each year. As a result, Border Partners has a plentiful supply to mix into the compost we apply to all of our gardens in Palomas.
Using some form of charcoal additive has proven advantageous to farmers for centuries. This biochar stove is a modern adaptation of proven agricultural methods. It uses a plentiful resource in this region — pecan shells.
Another promising aspect of these stoves is that they will play a role in mitigating climate change. Each pound of biochar produced, permanently sequesters four pounds of carbon dioxide into the soil. It takes carbon dioxide that would have been released into the air and locks it into the soil.
Ten more stoves have just been installed. There are now a total of 13 stoves in Palomas which will together make 13 tons of biochar per year for a total yield of 52 tons of carbon dioxide sequestered from being released into the air. Those13 little stoves are making a big impact.