BEI, Iowa State to Study Carbon Negative Energy

Researchers from Iowa State University and the Bioeconomy Institute have been awarded nearly $2 million to study production of biochar for use as a soil amendment that stores carbon underground instead of allowing carbon dioxide to re-enter the atmosphere as plants decompose. The award is from the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) based at Stanford University.

[PHOTO]BiocharIowa State and BEI researchers are studying how carbon-rich biochar can be used as a soil amendment to remove atmospheric
carbon dioxide.

The project will investigate the pyrolysis-bioenergy-biochar pathway to carbon-negative energy. Heating plant material slowly without oxygen – a process called pyrolysis – produces the biochar, a carbon-rich material, and bio-oil, which can be processed into fuels and chemicals. The Iowa State investigators are David Laird, a professor of agronomy; Bruce Babcock, the Cargill Chair of Energy Economics; Robert Brown, BEI director and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering; Dermot Hayes, a professor of economics; Fernando Miguez, assistant professor of agronomy; Sotirios Archontoulis, assistant professor of agronomy. Also on the team is David Zilberman, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley..

Groundwork for the project was laid by Iowa State’s Initiative for a Carbon Negative Economy, which was supported by the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Research Initiatives. Learn more about the ICNE and the GCEP project in the article, Advancing to a carbon negative economy, on the College of Engineering Website.

The biochar project is among six recent GCEP grants. GCEP is an industry partnership that supports innovative research on energy technologies to address the challenge of global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The project includes five corporate sponsors: ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger, DuPont, and Bank of America.

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