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Going negative: Stanford scientists explore new technologies that remove atmospheric CO2
Date:2/16/2013

sequestered than are released into the atmosphere," explained Milne, an energy assessment analyst at GCEP. "One of the most promising net-negative technologies is BECCS, or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage."

A typical BECCS system converts woody biomass, grass and other vegetation into electricity, chemical products or fuels, such as ethanol. CO2 emissions released during the process are captured and stored. The technology can be used in power plants, paper mills, ethanol processors and other manufacturing facilities.

As a carbon-negative technology, BECCS takes advantage of the innate ability of trees, grasses and other plants to absorb atmospheric CO2 for photosynthesis. In nature, the CO2 is eventually released back into the atmosphere as the plant decays. But when vegetation is processed at a BECCS facility, the CO2 emissions are captured and prevented from re-entering the environment. The result is a net-negative reduction in atmospheric CO2.

The GCEP report identified 16 BECCS projects at various stages of development around the world. The first project was launched in 2009 by the Department of Energy at a corn ethanol production facility in Decatur, Ill., operated by the Archer Daniel Midlands Company. Each day, about 1,000 metric tons of CO2 emitted during ethanol fermentation are captured and stored in a sandstone formation some 7,000 feet underground. The goal of the project is to sequester 1 million metric tons of CO2 a year the equivalent of removing 200,000 automobiles from the road.

Approximately 60 percent of global CO2 emissions come from power plants and other industries fueled by coal, natural gas and oil. Capturing and sequestering those emissions could play a significant role in curbing global warming. To make the process carbon negative, researchers have proposed a BECCS co-fired power plant that runs on a mixture of fossil fuel (such as coal) and vegetation (wood, grass or straw, for example). A p
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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