Thursday, March 24, 2016

What Time Is It? - Time for Carbon Smart Energy

Wood with Re-growth is the ONLY carbon zero energy strategy - 1993 Department of Energy Report

Wood is better than nuclear, wind, PV solar, and even large scale hydro for lowest net carbon emissions.  1 Million Btu (1 MBtu) = 293 kW = 120 lb dry wood  = 7 gal. Diesel Oil = 1000 cu.ft. (10 Therms) Natural Gas

"It is obvious that the sun keeps our earth warm with its radiant energy. It is perhaps not so obvious that all living and once living matter on this planet is a form of solar battery..
..When we burn a plant we release the stored water, carbon dioxide and ash along with heat. If we do it right, that's all we get - no pollution."  -- Larry Dobson

Back then they were doing biomass energy the hard way, burning the resource completely to ash.   Volatilizing only the lighter components (smoke) for heat, saving the harder carbon chains as charcoal (biochar) makes nearly perfect combustion easier.  

By interring biochar in soil, biomass energy becomes the only energy strategy that actively reduces concentrations of atmospheric carbon.  Some are already doing it, many more are taking notice.

The technology for smoke burning appliances, even smoke burning internal combustion engines for generators and vehicles is already, all ready. (Hat tip Albert Bates for the already, all ready saying).

In an interesting twist of fate, wood to motive power legend Wayne Keith traveled 232 miles on one million btu of wood, in a truck that travels only 169 miles on a million btu of gasoline at 21 mpg.  That is more than 30% efficiency improvement for an engine that was designed to operate on "smoke from the pit".

Larry Dobson's stove design, burning wood to ash, "a residential cookstove designed by Northern Light R&D burned wood 65 times cleaner than the average woodstove and cleaner than most oil and gas fueled residential furnaces" - Larry Dobson  

With biochar saving stove designs, the cleanliness and efficiency of stoves gets better and easier.  The economic value is that a higher value product is produced than what went into the stove. Wayne Keith's motive power design includes "ash dumps" for periodic clean out of beautiful high sheen biochar slipped through the grate to improve fuel quality and reliability over wide operating ranges typical while driving on the highway.

Using above ground energy is carbon smart if it stopped at zero.  Char saving designs go beyond zero to net atmospheric carbon reduction.  The benefits don't stop there.   

Interring biochar in soil improves soil microbiota and plant growth.  Biochar improves local water quality, similar to an under sink water filter.  Neighbors helping neighbors build char saving biomass energy designs tailored to locally available biomass improves local economies.

Biochar energy solutions are a win-win-win, improved energy, environment and economy.  Localizing energy is a carbon smart 21st century energy paradigm that is not hard to do, only difficult to conceptualize for those who have never seen it.

“To truth only a brief celebration of victory is allowed between the two long periods during which it is condemned as paradoxical, or disparaged as trivial.”  - Arthur Schopenhauer 

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