This month's Whanganui Science Forum speak is helping pull an ancient practice into the modern world.

Massey University Professor Jim Jones' talk - Biochar and Charcoal Making, Does Ancient Art + Modern Science = Environmentalism? - will be held at the Davis Lecture Theatre on March 27.

Mr Jones is a chemical and process engineer trained at the universities of Canterbury (NZ), Idaho (USA) and Cambridge (UK).

His research interests are in manipulating the properties of particulate systems such as the thermal breakdown of wood to produce charcoal or wood to produce food smoke, among other things.


In Whanganui he will talk about biochar which is charcoal produced from sustainable sources of biomass.

Charcoal production has an ancient history of more than 30,000 years as a pigment, 12,000 years as a reductant, and several thousand years as a soil modifier.

To achieve the maximum benefit, the production of charcoal must be as environmentally clean as possible. This challenge has been the topic of the recent work at Massey.

• Professor Jim Jones' talk is on Tuesday, March 27 at the Davis Lecture Theatre from 7.30pm.