Chemists make breakthrough in carbon capture

Scientists from the University of York have developed an innovative new green method of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power stations, chemical and other large scale manufacturing plants.

Wood pellets: Renewable, but not carbon neutral

A return to firewood is bad for forests and the climate. So reports William Schlesinger, President Emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, in an Insights article published today in the journal Science.

Explainer: How much carbon can the world's forests absorb?

You are walking through the bush when you see an enormous tree trunk, tens of metres long, lying across the forest floor. Imagine you and several dozen friends lifting it by hand. Now you've literally grasped the significance ...

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Biomass

Biomass, is a renewable energy source, biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms, such as wood, waste, and alcohol fuels. Biomass is commonly plant matter grown to generate electricity[1] or produce heat. For example, forest residues (such as dead trees, branches and tree stumps), yard clippings and wood chips may be used as biofuel. However, biomass also includes plant or animal matter used for production of fibers or chemicals. Biomass may also include biodegradable wastes that can be burnt as fuel. It excludes organic material such as fossil fuel which has been transformed by geological processes into substances such as coal or petroleum.

Industrial biomass can be grown from numerous types of plant, including miscanthus, switchgrass, hemp, corn, poplar, willow, sorghum, sugarcane, and a variety of tree species, ranging from eucalyptus to oil palm (palm oil). The particular plant used is usually not important to the end products, but it does affect the processing of the raw material.

Although fossil fuels have their origin in ancient biomass, they are not considered biomass by the generally accepted definition because they contain carbon that has been "out" of the carbon cycle for a very long time. Their combustion therefore disturbs the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere.

Plastics from biomass, like some recently developed to dissolve in seawater, are made the same way as petroleum-based plastics. These plastics are actually cheaper to manufacture and meet or exceed most performance standards, but they lack the same water resistance or longevity as conventional plastics.

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