Thursday, December 16, 2021

Charcoal, part 4: Production Resources

I mentioned at the end of my previous post that the research into production of charcoal turned into a massive rabbit hole. I got a few requests for examples and links, so here we go.

One of my sources for scientific topics is I'll warn you up front that this site has more information about most topics than you'll be able to digest: with scholarly papers, research findings, and various publications on a huge variety of subjects, this is a good place to find answers if you're willing to dig through the academic verbiage. I have a basic account which only took a few minutes to set up, and once you start researching a topic the site will send you notifications of papers on that subject for a while. They also send links to “related” topics, which causes the rabbit hole to branch off into other subjects. I was getting at least two new leads every day for two weeks after I started this one. Here are just a few:
If you visit any of those links, look to the right side of the page for related papers and documents. It is wonderful to have this much information available from the comfort of home instead of trying to track it down in a library.

Standard web searches turned up a few interesting sites, but there is a lot of plagiarism on the internet. Lazy click-bait articles that cut-and-paste the work of others without attribution (but lots of advertising) seem to be the majority of what you'll find through the “normal” search engines. There are, however, a few good sources out there.
  • The US Forest Service wrote up a primer 60 years ago. The subject is 30,000 years old, so this is still good information.
  • Mother Earth News has gone through several changes in management over the last 50 years, so theirinformation has to be viewed with reference to when it was published. They started off as a “back to nature” or “off grid” lifestyle magazine (the dating ads from the 1970's were fun to read) but have gone through phases where they put more emphasis on saving the planet than staying alive.
  • The United Nations has a lot of information available for developing countries, so they have a fairly good amount of data on charcoal. This article is a good example.
  • A quick-and-dirty approach to small batch production.
  • Sciencedirect is another scientific papers site, but it isn't as handy for me as Academia.

One of the hard parts about writing (or any other form of art) is being able to stop a project or piece when it is “good enough”. Endless editing and expansion results in no output, we have to know when to send it as it is and hope Erin can make it presentable. 

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