"This National Panel for a Carbon Negative Economy is a great example of the partnerships and research programs we're building with the Dean's Research Initiatives," said Jonathan Wickert, dean of Iowa State's College of Engineering. "These initiatives are advancing the college's research mission in areas where we have comparative advantages. And they're putting science and technology to work to help Iowa and the world meet the challenges of the 21st century."
One of those challenges is not only reducing emissions of greenhouse gases but also removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Brown and his colleagues think they have a solution: "Our proposal envisions a carbon negative economy, which goes beyond current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by adopting a strategy of actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," says the project's proposal to the college. "This captured carbon is sequestered in soils, sediments, and oceans as part of the natural carbon cycle of the biosphere while supporting economic activities of human society."
The objective, in other words, is "to develop technologies that take carbon out of the atmosphere and make money while doing it," said Jill Euken, a member of the new panel and deputy director of industry and outreach for Iowa State's Bioeconomy Institute.
The initiative envisions fixing carbon from the atmosphere by growing cellulosic crops such as switchgrass and aquatic species such as microalgae. The harvested biomass would be thermochemically converted to a biocrude that can be used for transportation fuels, biobased chemicals or the generation of electricity. The thermochemical conversion also produces biochar, a carbon-rich solid similar to the charcoal produced in fires. Applying biochar to agricultural soils can sequester the carbon and boost soil fertility.
And now a national p
|Contact: Robert C. Brown|
Iowa State University