A potential new fuel has been developed by researchers from the University
of Georgia using wood
chips. Small bits of wood are heated in an oxygen-free environment to
produce charcoal and a gas. The gas can then be condensed into a liquid
bio-oil which can be processed into a fuel which can be blended like
bio-diesel. The charcoal is being investigated for use as a fertilizer.
Since much of the carbon from the wood or plant matter becomes charcoal,
rather than part of the fuel, if the charcoal is put back into the ground
as fertilizer, then this fuel is net carbon negative.
You’re taking carbon out of the atmosphere when you grow a plant, and if
you don’t use all of that carbon and return some of it to the soil in an
inert form, you’re actually decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere," Adams explained. "We’re optimistic because in most types of
soil, carbon char has very beneficial effects on the ecology of the soil,
its productivity and its ability to maintain fertility.
One potential drawback to this is that only 15-17 percent of the dry
weight of wood is turned into this fuel. The charcoal produced accounts
for another 33 percent of the weight of wood. But that still leaves
roughly 50 percent of the byproducts of this process unaccounted for. We aren’t told if that material becomes useful materials or
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