Thursday, 9 November 2017

why not use trees?

BBC news headline: Plant captures CO2 out of the air.  Well, yes, that’s what they do!

Oh, okay.  So it’s not quite as snappy as the apocryphal newspaper headline Shell found on beach, but it requires the same sort of anti-default processing to understand.

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  1. You may remember the magnificent cottonwood in my courtyard. It finally took up some kind of disease or ?? and was down to about 10% foliage last Spring and was starting to throw huge branches at my house and the courtyard walls, so I bit the bullet and took it down.

    I'm estimating it was at least 10,000 lbs of sequestered CO2. The balance equations in these situations can be so hidden... I don't know why I hadn't thought carefully about "where does all that mass come from?". What with CO2+H20 => C6H10O5 you could say there is also "water" bound in the cellulose (contributing the H and releasing the O2). I'd want to believe that that big monster of a tree *also* had some "soil" integrated into it... and of course there *are*... trace nutrients (metal oxides) but when I burn the wood from the tree in my woodstove, it reduces by huge volume/mass like 100:1 or more. Rumor has it that the bulk is calcium carbonate and a non trivial amount of pottassium hydroxide. My hugelkultur beds are receiving the junkier bits, my rocket-mass (cobb construction) heater eats the twigs and the big steel stove converts all that solar energy back to heat and (a little) light. Too bad it is so warm this early winter... might as well be Indian Summer here most days.

    1. Yes, trees make most of their mass from CO2. Which is why our books (on their wooden bookshelves) are a carbon sequestration process, as well and entertainment, education, and insulation (currently hovering around freezing here).