What comes to mind when you hear the phrase climate engineering? For me, it is often a costly metal machine with several moving parts, technical diagrams, and complex chemical explanations that extracts carbon from the air.

A less common representation of carbon removal is a pit filled with tree cuttings. Yet, biomass burial, the scientific word for this hole, is one of the most promising and untypically straightforward manmade methods for eliminating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Professor N ing Zeng of the University of Maryland’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center described this as a hybrid nature engineering technique. It does not fit nicely into any of the large categories they have identified.

Yet, it is a designed response to climate change. Burying wood trimmings at a depth of around 2 metres inhibits decomposition by preserving the carbon in the wood rather than releasing it into the atmosphere.

Zeng stated, “[Without biomass burial], you squander the entire photosynthetic capability from a carbon standpoint.” “Plants take CO2 into their bodies, but when they die, it returns to the atmosphere.”

Nature has already accomplished the difficult task of removing CO2 from the atmosphere, leaving humans to design a storage system. Nevertheless, the durability of such storage depends on the design of the wood vault in which the trimmings are held and the use of materials that produce an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment.

If the burial site’s soils are resistant to termites, fungus, and moisture, they can be used to construct the vault. According to Daniel Sanchez, the principal scientist for biomass carbon removal and storage at Carbon Direct, thick, impermeable soils such as clay, silt, and sand are the most effective at maintaining a stable subsurface ecosystem.

“You must carefully consider the design of various vaults,” he stated. “They will have distinct considerations and skills. The technology of wooden vaults is still very much in development.”

According to scientific simulations, however, carbon kept in wood vaults may be retained for thousands of years with proper engineering. This figure has caught the attention of businesses, investors, and sustainability specialists. And the carbon credits mechanism for biomass burial has already begun to lurch into motion. Puro. A few biomass burial projects are advertised on Earth’s marketplace, including one of Zeng’s demonstration projects in Montreal, where carbon removal is being sold for $106 per tonne. And in March of last year, Puro issued a technique for biomass burial, including where the wood may come from, how to assure additionality, and how to remove methane and other greenhouse gases.

Biomass burial is one of the most promising and surprisingly straightforward manmade methods for removing carbon from the atmosphere.

Obviously, the startup ecosystem for climate technology has already begun to flourish around this technology, including Kodama Systems. They hope to go beyond carbon accounting and tackle three problems simultaneously: reducing the quantity of carbon in the atmosphere, reducing the danger of wildfires, and growing the workforce for forest management, a professional field that is critically understaffed. The corporation is collaborating with the California Forest Service and contracting with a forest restoration company for tree thinning, as well as storing forest thinning debris in a Nevada desert wood vault.

“We’ve deliberately controlled flames for the previous century,” Kodama CEO Merritt Jenkins said. “This is why we need to restore these woods.” Many forests are overpopulated above their natural carrying capacity, and there are not enough people to conduct the necessary labour in these woods.

Jenkins reports that the corporation intends to bury tiny diameter trimmings that would have been burnt absent Kodama’s idea. The corporation is exploring the use of technology to assist people in maintaining a massive number of acres.

Jimmy Voorhis, head of biomass utilisation and strategy at Kodama, stated, “Carbon management is a waste management challenge.” We believe that forestry residue management is essentially a waste management problem, and that we should be pursuing solutions that are scalable and have few negative externalities.

The pilot project will bury 4,500 tonnes of wood from the Eastern Sierras near Mammoth Lakes and remove about 3,200 tonnes of CO2 after accounting for the potential loss of emissions. Frontier has been awarded $250,000 in carbon credits from the project if certain baselines are met.

Therefore, this raises the question: why not recycle these waste elements into a physical product or for energy production instead of burying them?

Jenkins stated that there are economic obstacles to constructing facilities that can convert this biomass into a product. “The primary economic difficulty is the expensive [capital expenditure] of centralised facilities.”

It is exceedingly costly for a refinery or manufacturing company to convert these little scraps into construction material. To qualify for bank financing, would-be businesses must demonstrate access to a long-term supply of supplies. To achieve the optimum emissions-saved-to-emissions-released ratio, there is also the issue of constructing a plant on territory prone to wildfires. According to Voorhis, the production of electricity from biomass will always generate more emissions than a biomass burial project with a 90 percent conversion aim. The approach of carbon burial is more economically and environmentally viable, and is also more scalable, than other designed carbon removal solutions.

Several more carbon removal technologies are in their infancy and will require decades to mature. According to Zeng, we do not even know if these endeavours will be successful. He emphasises the reasonably secure investment in this technology that can utilise the wood residuals that would otherwise pose a hazard of forest fire.

Zeng stated, “[Biomassburial] does not require any technology and can be ramped up instantly.”

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