Tim Flannery On Biochar And The Renewable Age  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Beyond Zero Emissions has a talk with Tim Flannery about Terra Preta (via Energy Bulletin).

Look I think we should start with the knowledge that there is 200 gigatonnes of excess carbon floating around in our atmosphere. Now that is a very large amount of carbon. I won't explain what a gigatonne is but it's a lot, and that started to accumulate at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution as we burnt the coal and put the carbon into the atmosphere.

Now, it has become very clear that we have to find a way of drawing down that carbon stock in the atmospher. So we've got to not only reduce our emissions, so get rid of the burning of coal and so on and so forth, we've have to draw down the existing gas and people have been searching for ways of doing this. Some of your listeners may have heard about proposals to re-grow tropical forests for example or forestry's "I'll plant a tree and off set your emissions" and this sort of thing.

Well these Terra Preta solutions are in some ways or certainly for some purposes are a better solution, a superior solution to anything that's been brought up so far. What the process basically involves is taking any biological material, that could be crop waste or corn stalks or whatever, forestry waste, even human sewage, and partially burning it in the absence of oxygen so that you get a synthetic gas at one end of the process that you can then burn which is hydrogen rich, not so much carbon in it, but hydrogen rich, you can burn that for transport purposes or to generate electricity and at the other end of the process you get charcoal. And the great thing about charcoal is that it is a very stable form of carbon.

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