Saturday, May 21, 2011

Preblogging energy

James Kwak has a follow-up to his previously noted biomass post. I'll be referring to both in a post I'm working on:
Wow. Power plants have only a minuscule impact on emissions? In 2005, electricity generation was responsible for 73 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 21 percent of nitrogen oxides emissions, and 11 percent of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions. And biomass plants are less efficient, per BTU, than plants that burn coal or natural gas.
I'll also be mentioning biochar. Here's a relevant passage from Wikipedia:
Biochar may be a substance mostly suited to severely weathered and deprived soils (low pH, absent potassium, low or no humus). Clearly, there is the real potential for carbon sequestration, simply because biochar is so stable and is not accessible to normal microbial decay. Soils require active carbon to maintain micro and macro populations, not the inactive form found in biochar. Biochar can prevent the leaching of nutrients out of the soil, partly because it absorbs and immobilizes certain amounts of nutrients, however, too much immobilization can be harmful. It has been reported to increase the available nutrients for plant growth, but also depress them increase water retention, and reduce the amount of fertilizer required. Additionally, it has been shown to decrease N2O (Nitrous oxide) and CH4 (methane) emissions from soil, thus further reducing GHG emissions. Although it is far from a perfect solution in all economies, biochar can be utilized in many applications as a replacement for or co-terminous strategy with other bioenergy production strategies.
If you're curious, you might also want to check out this this NPR story and this news release from Eurekalert.

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