Charcoal carbon sequestration — birth of a new CO2 removal wedge?
I would love to hear Graham Nash and David Crosby rerecord their old “Carry Me” song about agrichar and removing carbon from the atmosphere while revitalizing soils:
“Bury me, buuuu-reee me, bury me, across the world …”
This is sounding so good it’s scary — like I am being set up to have my bubble burst when it turns out to violate one or more basic physical laws, or only be net negative by ignoring some huge emissions somewhere in the process, or whatever. But for today, I’m going to feel a little better:
Birth of a New Wedge
By Kelpie Wilson
t r u t h o u t | Report
Thursday 03 May 2007
The first meeting of the International Agrichar Initiative convened about 100 scientists, policymakers, farmers and investors with the goal of birthing an entire new industry to produce a biofuel that goes beyond carbon neutral and is actually carbon negative. The industry could provide a “wedge” of carbon reduction amounting to a minimum of ten percent of world emissions and possibly much more.
Agrichar is the term not for the biomass fuel, but for what is left over after the energy is removed: a charcoal-based soil amendment. In simple terms, the agrichar process takes dry biomass of any kind and bakes it in a kiln to produce charcoal. The process is called pyrolysis. Various gases and bio-oils are driven off the material and collected to use in heat or power generation. The charcoal is buried in the ground, sequestering the carbon that the growing plants had pulled out of the atmosphere. The end result is increased soil fertility and an energy source with negative carbon emissions.
Prominent Australian scientist Tim Flannery, who has written a book on global warming called “The Weather Makers,” was on hand to give encouragement to the conferees. “I am deeply committed to your solution,” he told the group. In a keynote address, Flannery provided an update on the acceleration of global warming, from the rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet to the unprecedented drought that has gripped Australia.