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Special Events

August 6-10, 2012
with Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE, Dr. Paul Anderson, Josh Kearns & others

The Biomass Energy Foundation (BEF) announces the Third Annual CHAB (Combined Heat And Biochar) Camp at New England Small Farm Institute (NESFI), 275 Jackson Street, Belchertown, MA.

CHAB III at NESFI is a 4 ½ day immersion learning experience, with a "Meet and Eat" welcoming on Sunday evening, August 5, 2012, and COMMUNITY SUPPER, co-hosted by Pioneer Valley Biochar Initiative (PVBI, on Tuesday, August 7, for local folks interested in a quick "show and tell" about biochar, CHAB devices, and NESFI's new, farm-scale ADAM-RETORT. The program will end at noon on Friday, August 10, allowing folks to attend the NOFA Summer Conference held nearby on the UMass Amherst campus (

Early registration for CHAB III at NESFI is requested but not necessary. Price for full participation (4 ½ days), including some meals and available on-site camping, is $400. Alternatives (2 days, $225; 1 day, $125) are also available. Please contact Hugh McLaughlin directly if an individualized experience is desired

The workshop is organized and directed by Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE (author of Chapters 6, 7 & 8 of The Biochar Revolution – available at and Paul Anderson, PhD ("Dr TLUD" – author of Chapter 11 of TBR). In addition, this year will feature: guest instructor Josh Kearns, PhD Candidate ( - use "Couch Mode" to view) leading an effort on using biochar as a locally produced water purification option to remove pesticides and hydrocarbons from contaminated water supplies; and instruction in operation of NESFI's new Adam-Retort.

CHAB III at NESFI will feature two majors and two minors. The "Majors" are CHAB Devices, which are 20 liters or greater biomass capacity and intended to produce biochar with some excess heat utilization, and Gasifying Stoves, which are smaller devices intended to provide controlled heat for cooking and may or may not generate a char byproduct. The "Minors" are Biochar Testing & Utilization in the Soil and Biochar as Adsorbents (c/o Josh Kearns). Attendees may choose a major and minor, or sample a bit of everything that is going on.

CHAB Camps cover both theory and practice, including fabrication skills to construct devices and hands-on experiences operating both proven and prototype devices. A variety of common biomass residues and biomass fuels are provided, along with all fabrication tools and materials. We will even provide gloves – if you forget your favorite pair. Our goal is to convey the underlying theory of CHAB devices, and show how that theory does or doesn't work in practice.

CHAB Camps are held at NESFI's Lampson Brook Farmstead site ( in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. Camping, with cooking facilities and showers, is available on-site for no charge, in addition to local motels in the Belchertown/Amherst area. Some meals will be provided, with nearby food markets available and local cuisine for the adventurous. Facilities are available for all activities, rain or shine.

For further information contact: Hugh McLaughlin or


You can pay online, or print this form, and mail it with a check. Prices include some meals and on-site camping. Here are other options for where to stay.

Choose number of days you are registering for:


           2011 BEF Camp at NESFI: August 7-12, 2011

            Gasifier Stoves, Biochar, CHAB, and More ….

The Biomass Energy Foundation (BEF, is launching  its instructional five-day events called “BEF Camps” around the world in 2011. Each BEF Camp is a structured learning experience, where the technical foundation, practical skills and fabrication methods of constructing biomass-fueled devices are taught and put into practice with hands-on efforts by the participants.

A typical BEF Camp starts with a social gathering Sunday evening, followed by two days of structured learning, building and burning. Typical days are divided between discussing combustion concepts, learning fabrication techniques while building small prototype devices that demonstrate the concepts, and operating the devices on both supplied and locally available fuels. Evenings are either social gatherings (including one meal prepared on the stoves) or additional time to fabricate and operate biomass-burning devices, collaborating in small groups of 2 to 5, and learning from insights and experiences of fellow participants.

The final two and a half days feature focused applications of the acquired skills to individual circumstances dictated by personal interests, unique fuels or culturally specific opportunities (determined based on participant interests for each camp).  The instructors work in conjunction with small groups of  “makers and testers”, with supplies available to prototype concepts and verify designs.

Following the inaugural CHAB (Combined Heat And Biochar) Camp last summer at NESFI, this year’s event will broaden the topics covered to allow specialization into individual interests. The main themes of this year’s camp include:

Theory and Practice of Biomass Gasification: TLUDs, Retorts and Gasifiers
TLUD Micro Gasification: Cooking with gas from biomass
Running a GEK: using gasification vapors and modifications for making biochar
Jolly Rogers: 5 gal to 55 gal TLUDs and Retort combinations for biochar production
CHAB Devices: Capturing and using heat from batch and continuous TLUDs
Dealing with special fuels such a Jatropha seeds, rice husks, and briquettes

The scope of the individual topics will be determined by interest and skills of the attendees.

The tuition for the 2011 BEF Camp at NESFI will be $400, payable to the New England Small Farm Institute (P.O. Box 937, Belchertown, MA 01007), a land-based non-profit organization. Documentation will be provided concerning the extent the tuition is tax deductible.

For further information concerning payments and local lodging options, please contact Warren Hubley or 413-323-4531. Reservations and pre-payments of tuition are appreciated and assist efficient execution of the BEF Camp.  For those who desire, tent camping (no hook ups are available, but showers, toilets and kitchen facilities will be) is available at the NESFI site for attendees during the 2011 BEF Camp.

For further information about the camp activities, please contact Hugh McLaughlin.


Past Events:

 CHAB Camp 2010:

Hands-on Development of “Combined Heat And Biochar” Devices

A weeklong workshop was held in western Massachusetts on 8-13 August 2010 to study and develop CHAB (Combined Heat And Biochar) devices. The fundamentals of biomass pyrolysis, biochar characterization, carbonization conditions (that promote higher performing biochars) and heat capture and transfer will be examined in technical and practical terms.  The daily schedule has flexibility, with mainly a series of morning study groups and afternoons and evenings devoted to the design, fabrication and testing of prototype CHAB devices. The only criteria for the CHAB devices are that they must A) generate a useable form of heat, B) provide for the recovery of biochar, and C) produce acceptably low emissions for untreated discharge at the intended application or via flues to the outside environment.

The goal of the CHAB Camp is to explore multiple technologies and device configurations, including TLUD cookstoves, retorts, greenhouse heaters, home furnaces, and combination cooking/water heaters. Cooking and heat recovery for residential space heat and hot water are the most likely heat applications, exemplified by simple “Top-Lit UpDraft” (TLUD) pyrolytic gasifier cookstoves, such as shown at . Current designs and new prototypes will be constructed and operated at the Camp. CHAB performance, both in terms of heat recovery and biochar properties, will be measured and evaluated.

The Camp leaders are Drs. Paul Anderson, Thomas Reed, and Hugh McLaughlin. 

Interest in the CHAB Camp is strong among “Stovers” (hands-on fabricators of stoves for Developing Societies) who will explain, instruct, and conduct prototype experiments with retorts, TLUDs, and other CHAB devices. Pre-registration is highly recommended because of the need to plan for such a participatory workshop.Spaces are likely to be limited, so e-mail your contact info to:

Why CHAB?   Society has hundreds of reasonably priced devices that use wood and other biomass as fuel, deliver useable heat, and generate ash. A similar selection of devices could be developed to consume biomass, provide useable heat, and create a solid residue that would perform as an acceptable biochar.  Distributed biochar production by CHAB devices in affluent and impoverished societies worldwide can make an important contribution to the diverse biochar objectives.


Please click here to see/print the flyer for this event! 


Past Events:       

Mobile Poultry Processing Unit Training


NESFI held the second of our “Mobile Poultry Processing Unit” trainings on May 14th. This training covered the practical how-to side of how to use the unit, from setting up the equipment to packaging the birds for consumers. This training was the second in a series, the first training had covered the legal and regulatory side of pursing licensure for using the unit at a farm. The training was well attended by current and hopeful pastured poultry farmers.
See Slideshow here:


Want to know more about the MPPU? Visit our MPPU Special Project page.


Biochar Demonstration Field Day

What is Biochar? Click here to find out more.