In order to comprehend how the overloaded carbon cycle can be helped, it is important to understand what carbon sequestration actually is. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing carbon dioxide and storing it. This is normally done from the atmosphere and in various ways. Carbon dioxide is usually stored in its different forms and this is actually a great way of slowing down the effects of global warming. There are three main ways in which carbon can be sequestrated from the atmosphere: physical processes, chemical processes and biological processes. Apart from these natural techniques, there are other artificial means of capturing the carbon as well.
Biological Processes of Carbon Sequestration
These processes normally affect the cycle of carbon in the planet. One such major effect was witnessed during the ‘Azolla Event’ which was a climatic condition that led to the climatic changes that are currently experienced in the Arctic region. It is due to such processes that fossil fuels were created and in some instances even limestone. Geo-engineers were seeking ways in which they could be able to manipulate these processes so that the collection of carbon can be made more effective.
- Peat Production- The peat bogs are quite essential in providing an avenue that carbon can be stored. This is the main reason as to why geo-engineers are keen in enhancing these bogs and even creating new ones in a bid to help the existing carbon cycle.
- Reforestation- This is a process that is mainly used to prevent the carbon that is normally emitted when plants die from being released into the atmosphere. This is because forests reduce the amount that is being reduced by a very large percentage.
- Agriculture- Soil contains a huge amount of carbon (organic) which even exceeds the percentage that is present in the atmosphere or even other types of vegetation. There are two major ways in which carbon can be reduced via agriculture and this includes: Enhancing the removal and reducing the amount of emissions.
- Reducing Emissions- When yields are increased, emissions are consequently reduced owing to the fact that efficiency has been capitalized. The use of farming methods which do not require tilling are the best since machines will be used less often as a result. Biomass is also significant in reducing the emissions since it traps most of the carbon back to the soil and prevents its release into the atmosphere.
- Enhancing Removal- Plants normally absorb carbon dioxide which they discharge soon after they have been harvested. There are various techniques that are used when farming and they ensure that the removal is as a result enhanced. They mostly include: The use of weeds & grass as cover crops, restoration of land that ahs been degraded, concentrating livestock and covering bare soil with vegetation.
Physical Processes of Carbon Sequestration
There are several techniques that are implemented when carbon is sequestrated using physical processes. The main ones are:
- BECCS (Bio-energy with Carbon Capture & Storage) – This generally refers to the biomass that is normally found in the boilers that are used when carbon has to be sequestrated. This carbon is usually captured and then stored which consequently leads to a reduction in the amount that is present in the environment.
- Burial- When trees and other forms of biomass are buried, this normally escalates the rate at which carbon is captured. In general, fossil fuels are normally created in a similar manner.
- Biochar Burial- When charcoal is passed through a process known as pyrolysis, the resulting product is referred to as Biochar. The Biochar is then added to the soil which improves the rate at which carbon is usually naturally recycled.
- Ocean Storage- There are numerous nutrients that assist in the production of fossil fuels and some are actually brought from the rivers into the oceans. On this regard, crop waste and other types of material that can actually aid this process are usually released into the ocean so that the amount of carbon being stored can be consequently increased.
Chemical Processes of Carbon Sequestration
This technique of carbon sequestration involves the extraction of carbon using chemical techniques. The process is commonly referred to as ‘Carbonation’ and it entails the causing the carbon to react with metal oxides so that carbonates which are relatively stable can be formed. Magnesium & Calcium are normally found in the atmosphere as singular elements but not the common binary oxides. The chemical reactions that are involved here occur much faster when the temperature is low and the entire procedure normally takes a very long time frame. As a matter of fact, a bigger percentage of the limestone that occurs on the earth’s surface was created this way.
In industrial usage, this technique is implemented by cement manufacturers who have discovered how to make cement that absorbs carbon dioxide when hardening. This is quite useful since construction work occurs very often nowadays. Another way that the chemical process is put into use is in the production of chemical scrubbers. There are artificial trees that are made through this technique and can be quite useful when it comes to the removal of carbon dioxide. CO2 can also be sequestrated when limestone is crushed and then added into oceans and there are different bases which can be used to increase the rate at which the carbon dioxide will be absorbed from the atmosphere.
Scientists propose the storage of carbon dioxide in liquid form so that it can be released in small amounts into the ocean for the sequestration purposes. However, this is a technique that can cost a lot of money which is why critics are quick to point out that using all these technologies can actually lead to an increase in the cost of electricity. All in all, calculations have led to the prediction that the coal technology in place at the moment will be relatively expensive once some of these techniques are actually put into implementation.