Navigation Links
Specially-designed soils could help combat climate change
Date:3/31/2008

Could part of the answer to saving the Earth from global warming lie in the earth beneath our feet?

A team from Newcastle University aims to design soils that can remove carbon from the atmosphere, permanently and cost-effectively. This has never previously been attempted anywhere in the world. The research is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The concept underlying the initiative exploits the fact that plants, crops and trees naturally absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) during photosynthesis and then pump surplus carbon through their roots into the earth around them. In most soils, much of this carbon can escape back to the atmosphere or enters groundwater.

But in soils containing calcium-bearing silicates (natural or man-made), the team believe the carbon that oozes out of a plants roots may react with the calcium to form the harmless mineral calcium carbonate. The carbon then stays securely locked in the calcium carbonate, which simply remains in the soil, close to the plants roots, in the form of a coating on pebbles or as grains.

The scientists are investigating whether this process occurs as it may encourage the growing of more plants, crops etc in places where calcium-rich soils already exist. It would also open up the prospect that bespoke soils can be designed (i.e. with added calcium silicates, or specific plants) which optimise the carbon-capture process. Such soils could play a valuable role in carbon abatement all over the globe.

The team will first try to detect calcium carbonate in natural soils that have developed on top of calcium-rich rocks or been exposed to concrete dust (which contains man-made calcium silicates). They will then study artificial soils made at the University from a mixture of compost and calcium-rich rock. Finally, they will grow plants in purpose-made soils containing a high level of calcium silicates and monitor accumulation of calcium carbonate there.

The multi-disciplinary research team, including civil engineers, geologists, biologists and soil scientists, is led by David Manning, Professor of Soil Science at Newcastle University. Scientists have known about the possibility of using soil as a carbon sink* for some time, says Professor Manning. But no-one else has tried to design soils expressly for the purpose of removing and permanently locking up carbon. Once weve confirmed the feasibility of this method of carbon sequestration, we can develop a computer model that predicts how much calcium carbonate will form in specific types of soil, and how quickly. That will help us engineer soils with optimum qualities from a carbon abatement perspective. A key benefit is that combating climate change in this way promises to be cheap compared with other processes.

Significant scope could exist to incorporate calcium-rich, carbon-locking soils in land restoration, land remediation and other development projects. Growing bioenergy crops on these soils could be one attractive option.

The process were exploring might be able to contribute around 5-10% of the UKs carbon reduction targets in the future, says Professor Manning. We could potentially see applications in 2-3 years, including a number of quick wins in the land restoration sector.


'/>"/>

Contact: Natasha Richardson
natasha.richardson@epsrc.ac.uk
44-017-934-44404
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Compost can turn agricultural soils into a carbon sink, thus protecting against climate change
2. Tropical soils impede landmine detection
3. Earths soils bear unmistakable footprints of humans
4. Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa commits 180M to revive farmers depleted soils
5. New insights into the fate of antiparasitics in manure and manured soils
6. Chemical compound present in detergents produce bacteria alterations in agricultural soils
7. CU researcher engineers sorghum that grows in poisonous soils
8. U-M ballast-free ship could cut costs while blocking aquatic invaders
9. Ant guts could pave the way for better drugs
10. Solving an avian scourge could also provide benefits to human health
11. Newly defined signaling pathway could mean better biofuel sources
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( ... online age and identity verification solutions, announced today they ... Conference 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, in ... and International Trade Center. Identity impacts ... and in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining identity ...
(Date:5/6/2017)... May 5, 2017 RAM Group ... a new breakthrough in biometric authentication based on ... mechanical properties to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors ... material created by Ram Group and its partners. This ... transportation, supply chains and security. Ram Group is ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... New York , April 19, 2017 ... competitive, as its vendor landscape is marked by the ... the market is however held by five major players ... Safran. Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% of ... of the leading companies in the global military biometrics ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... ... is a basic first aid supply for any work environment, but most personal eye wash ... if a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s one less decision, and likely quicker response ... piece. , “Whether its dirt and debris, or an acid or alkali, getting anything in ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are ... 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by ... in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... For the second ... a US2020 STEM Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled to Washington, ... from US2020. , US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of STEM education ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... 13 prestigious awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding contributions ... scheduled symposium during Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for laboratory ...
Breaking Biology Technology: