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Biosequestration

As previously mentioned the vast proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere is naturally released and is in turn naturally absorbed.  Some is dissolved in rain and ultimately acidifies the oceans but a great deal is absorbed by plants in the process of photosynthesis; consuming water and usually releasing oxygen. 

This is a natural solar collector.  Plant absorption is increased if CO2 levels rise and plants have access to sufficient water and sunlight.  Trials have been undertaken at higher CO2 levels with a number of existing economic plants to determine such things as the ‘fertiliser effect’ higher water uptake and increased solar absorption. 

Obviously producing biofuel or food does not permanently sequester carbon and any credit should only apply the solar energy collected by the process; as this, in turn, reduces dependence on other energy sources. To get a full credit, similar technology might produce cellulose that could be charred and buried to improve soils or other carbon rich materials that could be safely buried in depleted mines or other suitable sites. Charing and burying of bagasse, straw and wood-waste is already a recognised sequestration technology.

It is clear that accelerated CO2 absorption by conventional agriculture and plants, for example by reticulating CO2 to greenhouses or forests, would be costly and would not fully deal with the vast quantities of CO2 involved.  But some plants and bacteria evolved when CO2 levels were very much higher and it appears to be possible to exploit their genome to modify them or other plants and organisms, to produce economically useful materials; at the same time absorbing large volumes of CO2.

Several projects are already in underway internationally.  The most interesting involve algae that could be used to produce diesel fuel, directly or as chemical feedstock.  Other, possibly complimentary, options include modifying food crops like rice (to a C4 plant) so that additional CO2 and sunlight are absorbed (and carbohydrate yields improved).

Again the problem is the scale required to make a difference. A very large solar collection area is required together with plentiful water.  Areas comparable to present broad acre agriculture will be required, probably as shallow lakes.  It would be particularly useful if algae that are comfortable in salt water could be adapted.

Again there are safety issues to be considered. These vast lakes or fields will be filled with genetically modified organisms and the regulatory environment relating to GM organisms and foods will need to be changed accordingly.

 

 


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Travel

China

 

 

I first visited China in November 1986.  I was representing the New South Wales Government on a multinational mission to our Sister State Guangdong.  My photo taken for the trip is still in the State archive [click here].  The theme was regional and small business development.  The group heard presentations from Chinese bureaucrats and visited a number of factories in rural and industrial areas in Southern China.  It was clear then that China was developing at a very fast rate economically. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Lost Magic

 

 

I recently had another look at a short story I'd written a couple of years ago about a man who claimed to be a Time Lord.

I noticed a typo.  Before I knew it I had added a new section and a new character and given him an experience I actually had as a child. 

It happened one sports afternoon - primary school cricket on Thornleigh oval. 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Carbon Footprints

 

 

Energy Solutions

 

Most informed commentators agree that Australia needs a better mix of energy sources.  We are too dependent on fossil fuel.  This results in a very high rate of carbon dioxide production per capita; and this has international and domestic implications in the context of concerns about climate change.

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