Sustaining Future

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Carbon Negative Energy Source

Can we have energy source which actually is carbon negative, i.e. carbon sequestration while producing energy?

Is such sequestrated carbon stable? Any possibility of sudden disruption resulting in large releases back to the atmosphere?

Is such sequestrated cost negative, i.e. producing a positive economical value other than just the value associated to the carbon sequestration?

If I tell there is a solution which answers all the above question 'YES', can you believe it?

By a process called pyrolysis (cooked without oxygen), biomass is converted into a gas fuel (syngas, a combination of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen) with biochar as a by-product. Biochar can act as a carbon sequestration. Answer to the first question is 'YES'.

In the rainforests of central Amazon, the yellow soils has been turned black by locals thousands of years ago by mixing biochar with the soil. That proves that biochar in soil is extremely stable - as proved by this special soil known as terra preta. Answer to the second question is 'YES'.

Can the Biochar be sold to someone? Not exactly, but all farmers would welcome spreading the biochar to their farm land because of the potential improvement of soil quality by biochar. The use of biochar has been shown to increase water retention, microbial activity, uptake of minerals by plants, as well as continued deposition of healthy soil. Answer to the third question is a probable 'yes'.

Too good to be true? Well it looks like a win-win solution.

Source: Interview of Tim Flannery, 2007 Australian of the Year, Australian Broadcasting Corporation