Archive for Biofuel

New Seed for Guatemala

Curt Bowen grew up on a small organic farm in Idaho, so he knows a thing or two about agriculture and social engagement. His first service experience in Central America was building a house for a widowed family in Nicaragua as a teenager. During this trip he realized that it was impossible to help everyone in the same way, and that the root causes of poverty need to be examined rather than simply attempting to alleviate its symptoms.

So in 2006 he started his first project in Latin America with the goal of educating locals on biodiesel technology. While he was able to open three research and training centers, Curt didn’t think he was making a big enough impact. Knowing that the majority of the world’s poor are farmers, Curt decided to use his agricultural  background to help the people of Guatemala.

Once he got to Guatemala, Curt and his partner Trinidad Recinos, who he had met during his biodiesel project, drove through the entire country to plant and harvest alongside local farmers in order to fully understand the problems and issues facing Guatemalan farmers. Then in 2010 Curt and Trinidad co-founded Semilla Nueva (New Seed) with the mission: “to develop locally-led farmer education programs that increase the income, rebuild the soils, and improve the food security of Guatemala’s rural poor.”

Semilla Nueva now develops and implements agricultural solutions through experimentation and collaboration with Guatemalan farmers. The organization’s research looks for ways to produce more food, generate more income, decrease agriculture’s negative effects, and increase nutrition for poor farmers.
A great example of the progress Semilla Nueva has made is pigeonpea. “Pigeonpea is a drought resistant bean bred to grow simultaneously with corn and other crops. It cuts fertilizer costs by fixing organic nitrogen, decreases soil compaction, provides high protein and nutrient rich food, and is open-pollinated, allowing farmers to save their own seed.” Simply giving farmers access to this seed can increase the health of the farmers’ soil, provide more nutritious food, and increase farmers’ incomes.

Although I found out about Semilla Nueva only recently, I love what this organization is doing. They are using sustainable agriculture  and advances in agricultural technologies to lift the poor out of poverty and help them thrive. Semilla Nueva is one of only a handful of organizations focused on agricultural development. They are one-of-a-kind, and I love it!



    • Jason Aramburu

    • Age, 27
    • Founder
    Aramburu’s re:char uses biochar to help farmers in East Africa fight climate change and grow more food. Biochar is made from crop and animal waste; for a $60 investment, a farmer saves $200 annually, boosts crop yield 26%, and reduced chemical fertilizer consumption by 80%.
  • What is Biochar

Biochar Is a Valuable Soil Amendment

chartreeBiochar is a solid material obtained from the carbonisation of biomass. Biochar may be added to soils with the intention to improve soil functions and to reduce emissions from biomass that would otherwise naturally degrade to greenhouse gases. Biochar also has appreciable carbon sequestration value. These properties are measurable and verifiable in a characterisation scheme, or in a carbon emission offset protocol.

This 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and increase soil biodiversity, and discourage deforestation. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water.

Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon (terra preta), has led to a wider appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer.

Biochar can be an important tool to increase food security and cropland diversity in areas with severely depleted soils, scarce organic resources, and inadequate water and chemical fertilizer supplies.

Biochar also improves water quality and quantity by increasing soil retention of nutrients and agrochemicals for plant and crop utilization. More nutrients stay in the soil instead of leaching into groundwater and causing pollution.

Biochar is a Powerfully Simple Tool to Combat Climate Change

The carbon in biochar resists degradation and can hold carbon in soils for hundreds to thousands of years. Biochar is produced through pyrolysis or gasification — processes that heat biomass in the absence (or under reduction) of oxygen.

In addition to creating a soil enhancer, sustainable biochar practices can produce oil and gas byproducts that can be used as fuel, providing clean, renewable energy. When the biochar is buried in the ground as a soil enhancer, the system can become “carbon negative.”

Biochar and bioenergy co-production can help combat global climate change by displacing fossil fuel use and by sequestering carbon in stable soil carbon pools. It may also reduce emissions of nitrous oxide.

We can use this simple, yet powerful, technology to store 2.2 gigatons of carbon annually by 2050. It’s one of the few technologies that is relatively inexpensive, widely applicable, and quickly scalable. We really can’t afford not to pursue it.

– Jason is a unique entrepreneur working to fight many malfactors like hunger, poverty, famine and malnutrition through his enhanced soil for farmers. He is a great inspiration and a fantastic Millennial Entrepreneur.

SOLBEN using Bioenergy


The proclaimed mission of SOLBEN is to, “Promote the development and use of bioenergy integration projects aimed at improving

the quality of life of rural people and the recovery of the environment.” Daniel Gomez Iniguez started hearing about biodiesel, the alternative fuel produced from vegetable oils and animal fats, became interested and started to investigate.

 “I started searching the Internet…It seemed real easy to make [biodiesel] at your home.”

-Daniel Iniquez


Daniel started his investigation at hi local university, Tecnologico de Monterrey. There he found a course on biodiesel production and began attending the class, not for credit, and joined a biodiesel club. Daniel recalls

he mostly went to the university instead of his high school. He learned enough about biodiesel to figure out how to make it from used vegetable oil and eventually compared it to making biodiesel from animal fat. After attending many biodiesel conferences throughout Mexico, Daniel became connected with several people that would eventually come to make his project a much more impressive en devour.

With three partners at his side, Daniel started a nonprofit foundation in 2009 that developed biodiesel production technology. It was extremely sucessful and brought in $150,000 in sales. Next they invested money in a for-profit


business which is Solben. Today Solben sells technology that has to do with the production of biodiesel from nonfood products like algae. This is to prevent competition with other biodiesel com

panies that use corn or sugar as their base. Solben also offers products and services that allows customers to create their own biodiesel.

In 2010 Solben brought in over $1 million in sales and they left the year with a prediction of $3 million in sales for the coming year. Solben is expanding quickly into the United States, Central America, and India.