Integrating renewable energy - May 08, 2011 - Phil Carson - - Future Fuels - Generation - Technical Articles - Index - Library - GENI - Global Energy Network Institute

Biochar looks promising in climate change fight, NW geochemist says

Lowly charcoal is getting a new clean rep

May 14, 2011 -

Scientists are probing the limits of how high-grade charcoal, dubbed biochar, can be formed from plant and animal waste to squirrel away the atmosphere’s carbon for centuries, or even millennia. Inspired by ancient Amazonian soils, researchers have found that buried charcoal resists bacteria’s attempts to break it down. And thanks to its porous geometry, it has a knack for improving land in ways still being revealed.

“Once we get serious about climate change, this information is available now,” said James Amonette, an environmental geochemist at the Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “[Biochar] is one of the major tools we can use to fight climate change,, if we decide to do so.”

Charcoal’s status may be comparable to the start of the world’s head-over-heels embrace of synthetic fertilizer a century ago, scientists say.

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