April 5, 2007

Good News from the DOE about Carbon Sequestration

According to a new Department of Energy study U.S. and Canadian power plants are sitting on a 900 year storage capacity for their carbon sequestration. Getting the CO2 underground into the subterranean storage formations is not a process currently practiced in the United States (as it is in Europe) but it is good to know that we have the capacity to use as part of an overall carbon mitigation program.

DOE’s Carbon Sequestration Program involves two key elements for technology development: (1) Core R&D and (2) Demonstration and Deployment. The Core R&D element contains five focal areas for carbon sequestration technology development: (1) CO2 Capture, (2) Carbon Storage, (3) Monitoring, Mitigation, and Verification, (4) Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gas Control, and (5) Breakthrough Concepts. Core R&D is driven by industry’s technology needs and is accomplished through laboratory and pilot-scale research aimed at developing new technologies and new systems for GHG mitigation.

As shown in this Atlas, CCS holds great promise as part of a portfolio of technologies that enables the U.S. and the rest of the world to address climate change while meeting the energy demands of an ever increasing global population. The Atlas includes the most current and best available estimates of potential carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration capacities determined by a methodology applied consistently across all of the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSP). All data were collected before December 2006. In the course of developing these CO2 sequestration capacity estimates, it became clear that some areas had yielded more and better quality data than others. Therefore, it is acknowledged that these data sets are not comprehensive; it is, however, anticipated that CO2 sequestration capacity estimates as well as geologic formation maps will be updated annually as new data are acquired and methodologies for CO2 sequestration capacity estimates improve.

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erich said...

I hope you have time to review all the encompassing technology for energy, Green house gases, Agriculture, and waste management that Terra Preta Soils holds. My hope is that your companies' expertise could help validate the total benefits of such systems.

Please excuse my REPUBLICAN prefacing, but I got to say things in a way that these people can hear. "Creation Care" what a hoot, but I don't care what the evangelical Christians call it , a rose by any other name smells as sweet.

Here is my latest post to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (House Agriculture committee) after speaking to him at his Agriculture Conference in Staunton VA on Monday concerning issues for the up coming Farm bill.
I also got to button hole Bruce Knight,USDA under secretary for marketing and regulation, Arlen Landcaster, Chief of The National Resource & Conservation Service (USDA), and John Bricker, Virginia State Conservationist

"Dear Mr. Goodlatte, Mr. Bricker and Mr. Goldberg,

Thanks for hearing my concerns about regulations to support validation of Carbon Credits for the Sequestration of Charcoal in the soils at your Agriculture Conference Monday.

This soil technology could be the perfect Republican environmental plank. A truly conservative position to take on the stewardship of the planet , a real form of "Creation Care".

After many years of reviewing solutions to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) I believe this technology
can manage Carbon for the greatest collective benefit at the lowest economic price, on vast scales. It just needs to be seen by ethical globally minded companies.

Below is my review of these efforts in the Academic and private sectors, please forward this to all the experts you know, if you think it merits their time and support.

Sen. Byrd and Sen. Rockefeller of W VA and Rep. Udall had very positive responses to Terra Preta soils technology proposals presented to them.

Thanks for your attention

Erich J. Knight
Shenandoah Gardens
E-mail: shengar@aol.com
(540) 289-9750

Could you please consider looking for a champion for this orphaned Terra Preta(TP) Carbon Soil Technology.

The main hurtle now is to change the current perspective held by the IPCC that the soil carbon cycle is a wash, to one in which soil can be used as a massive and ubiquitous Carbon sink via Charcoal. Below are the first concrete steps in that direction;

Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.
Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Biomass by 2030
by Ralph P. Overend, Ph.D. and Anelia Milbrandt
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The organization 25x25 (see 25x'25 - Home) released it's (first-ever, 55-page )"Action Plan" ; see http://www.25x25.org/storage/25x25/d...ActionPlan.pdf
On page 31, as one of four foci for recommended RD&D, the plan lists: "The development of biochar, animal agriculture residues and other non-fossil fuel based fertilizers, toward the end of integrating energy production with enhanced soil quality and carbon sequestration."
and on p 32, recommended as part of an expanded database aspect of infrastructure: "Information on the application of carbon as fertilizer and existing carbon credit trading systems."

I feel 25x25 is now the premier US advocacy organization for all forms of renewable energy, but way out in front on biomass topics.

There are 24 billion tons of carbon controlled by man in his agriculture , I forgot the % that is waste, but when you add all the other cellulose waste which is now dumped to rot or digested or combusted and ultimately returned to the atmosphere as GHG, the balanced number is around 24 Billion tons. So we have plenty of bio-mass.

Even with all the big corporations coming to the GHG negotiation table, like Exxon, Alcoa, .etc, we still need to keep watch as they try to influence how carbon management is legislated in the USA. Carbon must have a fair price, that fair price and the changes in the view of how the soil carbon cycle now can be used as a massive sink verses it now being viewed as a wash, will be of particular value to farmers and a global cool breath of fresh air for us all.

If you have any other questions please feel free to call me or visit the TP website I've been drafted to administer. http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/?q=node
It has been immensely gratifying to see all the major players join the mail list , Cornell folks, T. Beer of Kings Ford Charcoal (Clorox), Novozyne the M-Roots guys(fungus), chemical engineers, Dr. Danny Day of G. I. T. , Dr. Antal of U. of H., Virginia Tech folks and probably many others who's back round I don't know have joined.

Here is my current Terra Preta posting which condenses the most important stories and links;

Terra Preta Soils Technology To Master the Carbon Cycle

Man has been controlling the carbon cycle , and there for the weather, since the invention of agriculture, all be it was as unintentional, as our current airliner contrails are in affecting global dimming. This unintentional warm stability in climate has over 10,000 years, allowed us to develop to the point that now we know what we did,............ and that now......... we are over doing it.

The prehistoric and historic records gives a logical thrust for soil carbon sequestration.
I wonder what the soil biome carbon concentration was REALLY like before the cutting and burning of the world's forest, my guess is that now we see a severely diminished community, and that only very recent Ag practices like no-till and reforestation have started to help rebuild it. It makes implementing Terra Preta soil technology like an act of penitence, a returning of the misplaced carbon to where it belongs.

On the Scale of CO2 remediation:

It is my understanding that atmospheric CO2 stands at 379 PPM, to stabilize the climate we need to reduce it to 350 PPM by the removal of 230 Billion tons.

The best estimates I've found are that the total loss of forest and soil carbon (combined
pre-industrial and industrial) has been about 200-240 billion tons. Of
that, the soils are estimated to account for about 1/3, and the vegetation
the other 2/3.

Since man controls 24 billion tons in his agriculture then it seems we have plenty to work with in sequestering our fossil fuel CO2 emissions as stable charcoal in the soil.

As Dr. Lehmann at Cornell points out, "Closed-Loop Pyrolysis systems such as Dr. Danny Day's are the only way to make a fuel that is actually carbon negative". and that " a strategy combining biochar with biofuels could ultimately offset 9.5 billion tons of carbon per year-an amount equal to the total current fossil fuel emissions! "

Terra Preta Soils Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration, 1/3 Lower CH4 & N2O soil emissions, and 3X FertilityToo

This some what orphaned new soil technology speaks to so many different interests and disciplines that it has not been embraced fully by any. I'm sure you will see both the potential of this system and the convergence needed for it's implementation.

The integrated energy strategy offered by Charcoal based Terra Preta Soil technology may
provide the only path to sustain our agricultural and fossil fueled power
structure without climate degradation, other than nuclear power.

The economics look good, and truly great if we had CO2 cap & trade or a Carbon tax in place.

.Nature article: Putting the carbon back Black is the new green:

Here's the Cornell page for an over view:

This Earth Science Forum thread on these soils contains further links, and has been viewed by 19,000 self-selected folks. ( I post everything I find on Amazon Dark Soils, ADS here):

Here's a Terra Preta web site at REPP-CREST I've been drafted to administer . http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/?q=about
It has been immensely gratifying to see all the major players, both academic and private companies, join the mail list & discussion, Cornell folks, T. Beer of Kings Ford Charcoal (Clorox), Novozyne the M-Roots guys(fungus), chemical engineers, Dr. Danny Day of G. I. T. , Dr. Antal of U. of H., many Virginia Tech folks and many others who's back round I don't know have joined.

University of Beyreuth , Germany http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/?q=taxonomy/term/118

There is an ecology going on in these soils that is not completely understood, and if replicated and applied at scale would have multiple benefits for farmers and environmentalist.

Terra Preta creates a terrestrial carbon reef at a microscopic level. These nanoscale structures provide safe haven to the microbes and fungus that facilitate fertile soil creation, while sequestering carbon for many hundred if not thousands of years. The combination of these two forms of sequestration would also increase the growth rate and natural sequestration effort of growing plants.

Charcoal / Ammonia Scrubbing Technology for Fossil Fuel Power Plants Emissions:

Here is a great article that high lights this pyrolysis process , ( http://www.eprida.com/hydro/ ) which could use existing infrastructure to provide Charcoal sustainable Agriculture , Syn-Fuels, and a variation of this process would also work as well for H2 production and Charcoal-Fertilizer, while sequestering CO2, NO2 and SO2 from Coal fired plants to build soils at large scales , be sure to read the "See an initial analysis NEW" link of this technology to clean up Coal fired power plants.
Soil erosion, energy scarcity, excess greenhouse gas all answered through regenerative carbon management http://www.newfarm.org/columns/research_paul/2006/0106/charcoal.shtml

The reason TP has elicited such interest on the Agricultural/horticultural side of it's benefits is this one static:

One gram of charcoal cooked to 650 C Has a surface area of 400 m2 (for soil microbes & fungus to live on), now for conversion fun:

One ton of charcoal has a surface area of 400,000 Acres!! which is equal to 625 square miles!! Rockingham Co. VA. , where I live, is only 851 Sq. miles

Now at a middle of the road application rate of 2 lbs/sq ft (which equals 1000 sqft/ton) or 43 tons/acre yields 26,000 Sq miles of surface area per Acre. VA is 39,594 Sq miles.

What this suggest to me is a potential of sequestering virgin forest amounts of carbon just in the soil alone, without counting the forest on top.

To take just one fairly representative example, in the classic Rothampstead experiments in England where arable land was allowed to revert to deciduous temperate woodland, soil organic carbon increased 300-400% from around 20 t/ha to 60-80 t/ha (or about 20-40 tons per acre) in less than a century (Jenkinson & Rayner 1977). The rapidity with which organic carbon can build up in soils is also indicated by examples of buried steppe soils formed during short-lived interstadial phases in Russia and Ukraine. Even though such warm, relatively moist phases usually lasted only a few hundred years, and started out from the skeletal loess desert/semi-desert soils of glacial conditions (with which they are inter-leaved), these buried steppe soils have all the rich organic content of a present-day chernozem soil that has had many thousands of years to build up its carbon (E. Zelikson, Russian Academy of Sciences, pers. comm., May 1994). http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/carbon1.html

All the Bio-Char Companies and equipment manufactures I've found:

Carbon Diversion
Eprida: Sustainable Solutions for Global Concerns
BEST Pyrolysis, Inc. | Slow Pyrolysis - Biomass - Clean Energy - Renewable Ene
Dynamotive Energy Systems | The Evolution of Energy
Ensyn - Environmentally Friendly Energy and Chemicals
Agri-Therm, developing bio oils from agricultural waste
Advanced BioRefinery Inc.
Technology Review: Turning Slash into Cash

The upcoming International Agrichar Initiative (IAI) conference to be held at Terrigal, NSW, Australia in 2007. ( http://iaiconference.org/home.html )

If pre-Columbian Indians could produce these soils up to 6 feet deep over 15% of the Amazon basin it seems that our energy and agricultural industries could also product them at scale.

Harnessing the work of this vast number of microbes and fungi changes the whole equation of energy return over energy input (EROEI) for food and Bio fuels. I see this as the only sustainable agricultural strategy if we no longer have cheap fossil fuels for fertilizer.

We need this super community of wee beasties to work in concert with us by populating them into their proper Soil horizon Carbon Condos.

I feel Terra Preta soil technology is the greatest of Ironies.
That is: an invention of pre-Columbian American culture, destroyed by western disease, may well be the savior of industrial western society.


Erich J. Knight
Shenandoah Gardens
E-mail: shengar@aol.com
(540) 289-9750

C. Scott Miller said...

Wow - You should seriously consider starting your own blog!

There is some great information in what you write which will enable me to run some of it down. But having people, like you, focus on it in all its ramifications and then publish it online would be a great help to groups like 25x'25, ACORE's Biomass Coordinating Council, the National Wildlife Federation, the Forest Resources Association, and the BIO World Congress (all of which I visited last month).

I have written about terra preta before:
Terra Preta: Black is the New Green

Organic Carbon Sinks - Terra Preta

In some circles Terra Preta is called "Agri-char".

You should be in touch with Bill Holmberg of the ACORE / Biomass Coordinating Council and let him know how you can help. Soil sustainability is a big topic for him - particularly agri-char.

In the meantime, we need to find a way to publish your information online. I will suggest to the BIOenergy WIKI that they work with you on appropriate inserts into their rapidly evolving resource.

erich said...

Thanks for the help
the WIKI folks contacted me

I spoke with Bill Holmberg a few months ago,


adrianvance said...

Creating A Carbon Economy

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Adrian Vance