Scientific Colloquium
March 27, 2024,  3:00 P.M.
Building 8, Hinners Auditorium

"Wood Vault: Burying Biomass to Fight Climate Change - A Simple Idea that Actually Works"

To keep Earth safe from dangerous climate change, a large amount of CO2 will need to be removed from the atmosphere and stored away permanently, via negative emissions technology (NET), for example, planting trees. But planting trees is not enough. The natural carbon cycle is in near balance. In an established forest, some trees absorb large quantities of CO2, but other trees die, decay and release carbon back into the atmosphere. The idea of Wood Harvesting and Storage (WHS) proposes management intervention by tree harvesting or waste wood collection, followed by secure storage in engineered structures called Wood Vault to prevent decomposition. Because the forest as a whole is still maintained and continues to absorb CO2, the net effect is to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. It is estimated that the potential for sustainable long-term carbon sequestration using WHS is 0.5-3 GtC/y (2-10 GtCO2/y), with the upper range being 1/4 of our current fossil fuel emission rate. Demo projects conducted so far show a durability of hundreds to thousands of years, and a cost of $30-100 per ton of CO2 sequestered. Specific applications have synergy with waste management, fire risk reduction, mine remediation, as well as extending the benefit of reforestation. The technique is low cost, distributed, easy to monitor, safe, creating green jobs, thus providing an option in the 'toolbox' of climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The method is now being implemented commercially in the burgeoning industry of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR), while opening a new research subject.

About the Speaker:

Ning Zeng is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland. He has a MS degree in Physics and Ph.D in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Arizona. He worked at MIT, UCLA, Max-Planck Institute, and NASA. He is a 3-time contributor to the IPCC reports and is on Reuters List of Top Climate Scientists. He was founding co-chief editor of EGU journal Earth System Dynamics, chair of the 9th International CO2 Conference. He is a co-lead of the US Carbon Cycle Science Plan. He co-founded Carbon Lockdown Project.

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