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Stealth effort to bury wood to remove carbon just raised millions

Stealth effort to bury wood to remove carbon just raised millions

Stealth effort to bury wood to remove carbon just raised millions

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After a series of years of devastating wildfires across the West, a number of states are increasingly funding forest clearing efforts to reduce these dangers. This includes clearing underbrush, felling trees, or using controlled burns to break up the landscape and prevent fires from reaching forest crowns.

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States are expected to produce more and more forest waste from these efforts as climate change accelerates in the coming years, says Justin Freiberg, chief executive of the Yale Carbon Containment Lab, which has conducted field trials. exploring a number of “wood carbon containment”. approaches under different conditions for several years.

But today, harvested plants and trees are usually piled up in cleared areas and then left to rot or deliberately burned. This allows the carbon stored there to simply return to the atmosphere, causing further warming.

Kodama hopes to solve both the dangers of wildfires and the emissions challenge. The company says it’s developing automated ways to thin overcrowded forests that will make the process cheaper and faster (although it doesn’t discuss that part of the business in detail yet). After pulling branches from trees too small to be sold as lumber, they will load them into trucks and ship them to a prepared pit.

Small logs and other biomass collected by Kodama.

KODAMA SYSTEMS

The key will be to ensure that what the company calls a “wooden vault” keeps out oxygen and water, which would otherwise speed up decomposition and prevent greenhouse gases from escaping. .

As part of the field effort with Yale researchers, which is expected to begin in the third quarter of next year, the company intends to create a burial mound in the Nevada desert that is seven meters high. , three meters deep and 58 meters long and wide.

They plan to cover the biomass with a geotextile liner, then bury it under soil and a layer of selected native vegetation to absorb moisture. Given the region’s dry conditions, this will create a confined system that will prevent “decomposition agents from acting on the buried mass of wood”, ensuring that the carbon remains in place for thousands of years, says Jimmy Voorhis, responsible for biomass use and policy at Kodama.

Freiberg adds that they will also leave the wood exposed on site and create smaller side vaults designed in different ways. Teams will continue to monitor them and compare decay rates and any greenhouse gas leaks for years. The teams expect to be able to extrapolate long-term carbon storage estimates from this data, as well as other studies and experiments.

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