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The Sequestration Option

Carbon sequestration -- taking CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it, well, somewhere -- doesn't generate a great deal of interest among hardcore climate change wonks. That's in part because the various sequestration options each have serious drawbacks, in part because sequestration isn't as easy as it sounds, and in part because sequestration is seen by some as being an 'easy out' for continuing a greenhouse-intensive lifestyle. From this perspective, it's the liposuction of the fight against climate disruption: it might help in the short term, but without changes in behavior, it won't matter much.

As it becomes increasingly clear just how bad the greenhouse gas situation really is, however, we may come to reconsider that position. It's looking increasingly likely that we will need to really crank up the sequestration research on top of shifting hard and fast towards more efficient, greener designs and technologies. To that end, the Washington Post provides a basic overview of current sequestration research. It doesn't touch on every project out there, but it does cover the mainstream ideas: biomass offsets, serpentine neutralization, and liquefying CO2 for undersea insertion.

Comments (5)

Lets not forget the low-tech way to sequestrate carbon: Planting trees!

I made a comment off your Feb 18 "warming the oceans" post.

Is anyone (other than me) talking up landfills for this? It strikes me as a low cost (or perhaps even cost saving) approach.

Environmentalists and garderners (myself included) are attracted to waste composting because there is all this "wealth" (plant material, carbon) which is "wasted" when it goes off to the landfill. But as I understand it, composted plants return to the atmosphere relatively quickly. Landfills should lock up carbon for hundreds of years.

I think a similar test should be made when "waste" is burned to generate energy. We should be looking at the conversion efficiency (CO2 per KW), and just landfill the stuff if it cannot beat the efficiency of (say) coal.

This is about being hard as tacks with your CO2 accounting, and not letting warm-fuzzies rule.

Did I make a mistake in my last post attempt?

I was able to track down a document on landfill sequestration. To make a long story short, it says that carbon put into a landfill stays there:


It sounds to me like one of the most cost effective options - just make sure we shift more carbon to the landfill.

Bear K:

One of the presentations given at the Exter Conference posted here: http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/002062.html , called Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage (BECS) mentioned using the charcoal from biomass gasification as a soil ammendment, which would sequester CO2. The incredibly rich anthropogenic soils called Terra Preta in the Amazon have large quantities of char in it. It seems like a win-win, grow trees, create energy, save the char and apply it to degraded fields and increase agricultural productivity at the same time.

Hey Bear, checked out that PDF. The claim of ~5Kyr half-life for charcoal in soil sequestration is ceratinly impressive. It's not something I would intuit from my experience as a gardener ... but it it words, great.


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