The Carbonator

Groundbreaking Technology Being Used to Reduce Wildfire Risk

December 21, 2023

Thursday, December 21, 2023 (Castro Valley, CA) – Wildfires are a significant hazard in the Bay Area. But in the East Bay, a new machine called a carbonator is being used by the East Bay Regional Park District to fight fire with fire, literally. The carbonator was recently started up for the winter season.

The carbonator is currently being used at Anthony Chabot Regional Park to dispose of vegetation from a large 365-acre fuels reduction project. In 2020, the Park District found over 1,500 acres of dead and dying trees within its parks caused by drought stress and climate change.

The carbonator burns organic matter at extremely high temperatures (about 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit) using very little oxygen to dispose of vegetation, which results in very low greenhouse gas emissions. The carbonator is a climate-friendly disposal method, especially compared to the conventional open pile burning or transporting loads long distances off-site in diesel trucks.

“The project at Anthony Chabot Regional Park is a first-of-its-kind project in the Bay Area,” said Park District General Manager Sabrina Landreth. “As the largest regional park district in the nation and a local leader in wildfire prevention, we knew we needed to find an innovative solution for disposing of the vegetation from our fuels reduction projects.”

The resulting material, called biochar, is being used within the Park District as a soil enhancer. Biochar from the carbonator is being used at the Park District’s Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont to enhance soil health and crop productivity, amongst other District locations.

“The carbonator is an innovative fuels reduction tool to address wildfire risks and combat climate change,” said Chief Aileen Theile. “We are always looking for innovative ways to address wildfire dangers and reduce wildfire risks for the community.”

Additional Resources:
Thinking Outside the Box Press Release, October 24, 2023,

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The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.