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We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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Why dedicating land to bioenergy won't curb climate change

Why dedicating land to bioenergy won't curb climate change | Zero Footprint |

A new WRI paper finds bioenergy can play a modest role using wastes and other niche fuelstocks, but recommends against dedicating land to produce bioenergy. The lesson: do not grow food or grass crops for ethanol or diesel or cut down trees for electricity.

Even modest quantities of bioenergy would greatly increase the global competition for land. People already use roughly three-quarters of the world’s vegetated land for crops, livestock grazing and wood harvests. The remaining land protects clean water, supports biodiversity and stores carbon in trees, shrubs and soils—a benefit increasingly important for tackling climate change. The competition for land is growing, even without more bioenergy, to meet likely demands for at least 70 percent more food, forage and wood.

Some institutions have called for producing 20 percent of human energy needs from bioenergy of all sorts by 2050. That would require an amount of biomass equal to all the plants harvested annually across the entire world today: all the crops, crop residues, wood and grasses eaten by livestock. The world does not have the room.

Solar Cells Offer an Alternative

The good news is that standard solar cells available today can generate more than 100 times as much usable energy per acre (hectare) as bioenergy even using optimistic projections for bioenergy’s future. When used with electric engines in cars with more efficient batteries, solar benefits can rise to 200 or 300 times the efficiency biofuels. And unlike bioenergy, solar energy works great in deserts and on rooftops without competing for fertile land.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

The solar energy we can derive from plants is such a small fraction of what we can get more directly, without completing for fertile land, that there should be no question how to proceed.  There may be value in storing energy in biofuels, but we'd have to do that much more efficiently.

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Scientists develop CO2 sequestration technique that produces 'supergreen' hydrogen fuel

Scientists develop CO2 sequestration technique that produces 'supergreen' hydrogen fuel | Zero Footprint |

( —Lawrence Livermore scientists have discovered and demonstrated a new technique to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and producing alkalinity, which can be used to offset ocean acidification.

The team demonstrated, at a laboratory scale, a system that uses the acidity normally produced in saline water electrolysis to accelerate silicate mineral dissolution while producing hydrogen fuel and other gases. The resulting electrolyte solution was shown to be significantly elevated in hydroxide concentration that in turn proved strongly absorptive and retentive of atmospheric CO2.


Further, the researchers suggest that the carbonate and bicarbonate produced in the process could be used to mitigate ongoing ocean acidification, similar to how an Alka Seltzer neutralizes excess acid in the stomach.


"When powered by renewable electricity and consuming globally abundant minerals and saline solutions, such systems at scale might provide a relatively efficient, high-capacity means to consume and store excess atmospheric CO2 as environmentally beneficial seawater bicarbonate or carbonate," Rau said. "But the process also would produce a carbon-negative 'super green' fuel or chemical feedstock in the form of hydrogen."

Via Darin Hoagland
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Seems natural to build such a process into a large number of offshore wind turbines, maybe combined with wave energy and solar energy systems.  The distribution of acid-neutralizing carbonate and bicarbonate would be as diffuse as the distributed energy generation. 

Darin Hoagland's curator insight, May 29, 2013 10:03 PM

Interesting renewable fuel possibility and global warming correction.