Last Meeting (9/23/20)
Our guest speaker for our last meeting was the always fantastic Professor Daniel Sanchez. Dr. Sanchez is currently working as a negative emissions ambassador for political outreach and extension at UC Berkeley right now, having worked previously within the senate to advise on climate change and environmental policy. His lecture for us gave a quick run down of one of the most promising, or over-hyped, negative emissions technologies in the field- BECCS.
Bio energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is a form of converting biomass into, typically, transportation fuels while capturing the CO2 released from the process. Biomass, meaning just about any plant material, helps benefit negative emissions in two ways: through, first, pulling out CO2 while living and growing, and then later converting that biomass into carbon negative energy once that plant has died. The beauty of BECCS us that it has the potential to use waste carbon sources that would otherwise end up in landfills, and use those sources to create clean energy sources. There are many processes of transformation of this biomass into energy, mostly being thermochemical or biological reactions that breakdown the biomass into useful carbon compounds and CO2 that we can sequester.
As of now, most biorefineries use corn to produce ethanol through anaerobic fermentation, and though a cleaner source of fuel than fossil fuels, it doesn’t seem likely that corn ethanol production will ever be net negative in its emissions. As it is now, corn ethanol production usually doesn’t capture the excess stream of CO2 produced by this fermentation process, meaning that there are pretty obvious steps which can make ethanol production much more carbon neutral. BECCS have always been a source of massive potential for many NET proponents, however, where we stand now, this technology is severely under utilized.
For anyone who missed the meeting please go to the google drive > Membership > Meeting Videos and watch the general meeting 2 there !