Ithaka Institut

Milestones of the Ithaka Institute

Even though the Ithaka Institute was only founded less than 10 years ago, some of our inventions, research projects, ideas and developments helped to prepare the breakthrough of biochar as ubiquitous material and technology for a sustainable future of the planet. Each and all the below mentioned milestones were reached in collaboration with our numerous scientific and industrial partners.


2007 Set-up of the first European field trial with biochar in the Mythopia vineyard (Valais, Switzerland). Field size of 3000 m2 including a 1000 m2 treatment with biochar-compost that was compared to compost only and to a control without any amendment (see Biochar in European viticulture).


2009 Foundation of the Ithaka Journal, the first journal dedicated to biochar and climate farming (The Ithaka Journal).

2009 Introduction of the first guidelines and label for viticulture in high biodiversity. More than 100 wine growing companies in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany are certified since then (see Biochar in European viticulture)


2010 Installation of Europeans first industrial biochar unit at Swiss Biochar in Lausanne (CH) producing 300 t of biochar per year (watch the video here)

2010 Coordination of the Biochar garden trial with 200 Swiss hobby gardeners particpating over two growing seasons (see: Biochar gardening)

2010 Development of the Swiss Terra Preta, a highly fertile soil substrate containing biochar. More than 1000 m3 of Swiss Terra Preta are commercialized by different companies in Switzerland and Germany since then (see for example here).


2011 Set-up of biochar field trials in three representative vineyards in Italy, Spain and France (find more information here)

2011 Creation of the concept Cascading use of biochar in animal farming (see Biochar - a key technology for the planet). Development of the first biochar containing feed substrate for different livestock species (the CarbonFeed series, produced now by EM-Schweiz AG)


2012 Creation of the European Biochar Certificate with independent on-site control of production in Europe.  (see: European Biochar Certificate).

2012 Publication of the very influential article: 55 uses of biochar that marked the step to overcome the restriction of biochar to agriculture. (see: 55 uses of biochar)

2012 Building the first biochar-clay wine cellar (see: Biochar for optimal indoor climate)


2013 Switzerland becomes the first country after Japan to officially approve biochar as soil amendment for agriculture. The approval is based on strict, scientifically checked requirements with regard to the sustainability of biochar production, to biochar quality and to user protection in its application (see: here).

2013 Organization of the first biochar ring trial to compare and unify biochar analytical methods. 24 participants from 12 countries. (more information here)

2013 Building the worlds first office with biochar building materials (see: The use of biochar as building material)

2013 Construction of the Pyreka Research Pyrolysis to enable rapid tests of suitability of a wide range of feedstock, blending and production parameters for specially designed biochars (see: Pyreka research pyrolysis).


2014 Development of several types of flame curtain biochar production devices including soil pit kilns, pyramid kilns and the Kon-Tiki open fire deep cone kiln that will eventually democratize biochar production throughout the world (watch the video: Kon-Tiki and visit the Backyard Biochar).

2014 Foundation of the Ithaka Institute US (director Kathleen Draper)

2014 Foundation of the Biochar Journal the first international journal entirely dedicated to biochar and carbon intelligence (starting 1st September: the Biochar Journal)

2014 Introduction of farm scale biochar production and application to Nepal (Asia Development Project)


2015 Demonstrating for the first time scientifically that low amounts of nutrient enhanced biochar may massively increase crop yield. Obtaining a fourfold yield increase in pumpkin (82 t / ha) using only 750 kg / ha of root zone applied biochar that was nutrient enhanced with cow-urine.

2015 The Kon-Tiki technology is adopted in more than 40 countries on all green continents making it the most employed biochar producing technology

2015 The Ithaka initiated World CharDays from 19th to 21st June 2015 produced > 17 t biochar sequestering 38,000 kg CO2

2015 Thanks to the donations of the friends of Ithaka after the terrible earthquake in Nepal, 10,000 trees of an agro-reforestation in Ratanpur were planted supporting farmers on a long term with the selling of carbon credits, 78 farmer families were supported to produce urine enhanced biochar, 20 earthbag clay houses were built for farmer families that had lost their houses in the earthquake   


2016 Ithaka developed the CO2-Subscription to link private CO2-emitter directly with tropical farmers that capture CO2 via forest garden systems. Another 15,000 mixed trees were planted in the Ratanpur and Bandipur region of Nepal within newly establish forest gardens.

2016 With more than 150 scientific and farmer field trials in Nepal, Bangladesh and Europe, Ithaka demonstrated the overwhelming efficiency of concentrated root zone application of organic biochar based fertilizer.

2016 Foundation of the Ithaka Institute for Climate Farming in Nepal

2016 Introduction of (farmer made) organic biochar based fertilization to improve food security and nutrient diversity in rural Bangladesh.

2016 Delivered proof that farmer made Kon-Tiki biochar is of high quality, meets the criteria of the European Biochar certificate and has low emissions during production.


2017 The PyCCS concept was born or rather the name of the yet published concept: pyrogenic carbon capture and storage using all carbonaceous products of pyrolysis in a way that the carbon stays sequestered for long term mitigating climate change.

2017 The Empyrion project produces systematic series of > 100 activated biochars from all sorts of biomass delivering the proof of concept that the activated charcoal for waste water treatment can well be produced on-site in Europe (or wherever in the world) from locally available biomass (including sewage sludge). 

2017 Foundation of the Ithaka Institute Germany

2017 First publication of a work led by Ithaka in one of the Nature Journals.