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Home > Feature Articles > Alternative Energy Solutions

Carbon Negative with Agrichar, Step Beyond Carbon Neutral

Carbon negative technologies include carbon storage Agrichar for agriculture

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For some experts, it is not a question of whether businesses will go carbon negative, but when.

In academic and industrial labs worldwide, researchers are working on technologies to reach that goal. Success could create the ultimate green business - for example, one that produces fuel whose emissions are more than offset by carbon dioxide stored during production. The businesses would be even more successful if, as anticipated, the U.S. Congress put a tax on emissions, or joined Europe in starting a trading plan that made carbon credits valuable.

Carbon Negative Technologies

Carbon-negative technologies of some sort will be essential, said Daniel Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. For decades to come, the world is facing the certainty of vast emissions of carbon dioxide from factories already running, and atmospheric concentrations must be stabilized. "We've got such a carbon overshoot looming in the future that this is going to have to happen," he said.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that an 80% cut in carbon dioxide emissions is necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

It is possible to gasify a mixture of coal and biomass to keep the process carbon neutral. But the balance depends on the cost of separation and storage versus what kind of tax or other fee might be put on emissions.

There is a waiting game in progress for regulations that will tell businesses where the revenue model will be found in the carbon market.

Agriculture's new crop: Agrichar

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering carbon storage as a new crop, so to speak. ''It's one of the many, many ways the agriculture community is going to be a viable player in the renewable-energy field as we go forward,'' said Edward Schafer, the secretary of agriculture, at a renewable-energy conference this month.

The method is called agrichar, in which some biological material - grass or trees grown specifically for the purpose; or a cornstalk or other agricultural waste - is cooked at a very high temperature in the absence of oxygen. That produces an oil that, with a little chemical work, can be used as a vehicle fuel.

SOURCE: WBCSD.ORG



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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