More than 20 researchers and faculty members from Iowa State University met in April 2018 to discuss ideas for the university’s involvement in the New Carbon Economy Consortium (NCEC). The NCEC involves a number of research institutions in addition to Iowa State and has the goal of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into valuable products and services.
The meeting was organized by the Bioeconomy Institute at Iowa State. Other attendees included Noah Deich and Giana Amador of the NCEC as well as Elizabeth Cantwell, Chief Executive Officer of the Arizona State University Research Enterprise (ASURE). Deich, who is the executive director of the Center for Carbon Removal, said the consortium is urgently needed to “develop new businesses and reinvent the industries that powered the last industrial revolution – like manufacturing, mining, agriculture and forestry – to create a strong, healthy and resilient economy and environment for communities around the globe.” The consortium includes Arizona State, Purdue University, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Robert C. Brown, BEI director and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering at Iowa State, explained that “Iowa State University began exploring carbon removal technologies six years ago as part of a College of Engineering-sponsored Initiative for Carbon Negative Energy. This initiative focused on drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the natural process of photosynthesis, with part of the resulting plant biomass being converted to biochar as a long-term carbon sequestration agent.”
The Iowa State researchers involved in the meeting represented a broad and diverse set of research areas, from agronomy and sociology to engineering and economics. Their expertise includes soil carbon, biochar utilization, climate modeling, energy policy, and environmental impacts, among many others.
Ideas generated at the workshop will be combined with ideas at similar workshops at several other institutions around the U.S. into a carbon removal roadmap that will guide fund raising and research efforts for members of the NCEC.