AirToob Lightning

Tags  →  green energy

Our Good Earth from National Geographic
Biochar is an ancient process that is making a comeback. It does many things at once: starting with most urban, agricultural or forestry biomass residues, it can generate energy, enrich soil, and actually remove carbon from the atmosphere. It is not merely carbon-neutral, but carbon-negative.

The biochar process is akin to a process utilized thousands of years ago in the Amazon Basin, where islands of rich, fertile soils called Terra Preta ("dark earth") soils were created through a process similar to pyrolysis (one example of which is the production of charcoal by burning wood with restricted oxygen).

The beautiful picture above comes from a superb online National Geographic article (sadly no longer available) called "Our Good Earth", which introduced me to this process, and which provided me with one of the many positive topics in my "Environment and Technology" page (which has just had a major update).

The modern biochar process is summarized below. It is interesting (for me, anyway) to compare it with the food recycling process that generates both fertilizer and energy, now in widespread use in the UK.

[Food recycling in the UK (from my web site)]
[The International Biochar Initiative]
[Recent links on the Biochar process]
[Terra Preta, the "Black Revolution"]

“Against stupidity, the very gods themselves contain in vain” —Schiller

One graphic to say it all... (well, on this topic anyway)

[More than half of newly added world energy capacity now comes from renewables]

Algae in the Venice lagoon, a new kind of "power plant" (the source of this image will be found here)

This excellent article looks first at the problems of Porto Marghera, the industrial zone of Venice, where declining industry has left behind it abandoned sites and major pollution (Porto Marghera is referred to in Italy as "the mother of all contaminations"), threatening the Venetian lagoon and the cultural value of Venice itself.

The article takes this as an example of many cities with similar areas near a waterfront, and suggests that these areas should be seen as opportunities rather than problems.

In the case of Venice, there has already been considerable success in this area, itemized in the article with many links, including Pandora, described as the first "intelligent" building, a green oil refinery that will produce biofuels, additives and antioxidants for foot, medicines and other things from biomasses, a Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF or CDR) power plant supplying green electricity to the island of Venice, the world's first hydrogen power plant, and a project to build an algae power plant, among others.

I first came across the algae power plant here (from which the above image comes). Recent links about the project ("recent" meaning in the last year relative to when you look at this post) will be found here.

The use of algae is one of the most promising developments in the field of biofuels, and some very interesting recent links on the subject will be found here.