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Biostimulation of green microalgae Chlorella sorokiniana using nanoparticles of MgO, Ca 10 (PO 4 ) 6 (OH) 2, and ZnO for increasing biodiesel production
- Maryam Faried
- Amany Khalifa
- Essam M. Abdelsalam
Exploring hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of digested sewage sludge (DSS) at 5.3 L and 0.025 L bench scale using experimental design
- Stian Hersvik Hegdahl
- Solmaz Ghoreishi
- Tanja Barth
Automation of the control system for drying grain crops of the technological process for obtaining biodiesel fuels
- Anzhelika M. Eremeeva
- Yury V. Ilyushin
Rewiring photosynthetic electron transport chains for solar energy conversion
Photosynthetic electron transport chains convert solar energy into chemical energy. In this Review, engineering efforts to rewire these electron transport pathways for electricity and chemical production are discussed, highlighting major advances alongside outstanding research problems for achieving real-world applications.
- Joshua M. Lawrence
- Rachel M. Egan
- Jenny Z. Zhang
Catalytic pyrolysis as a platform technology for supporting the circular carbon economy
Catalytic pyrolysis is a promising process for the valorization of biomass and plastic waste, although several aspects related to its practical utilization remain unexplored. This Perspective revisits the salient features of catalytic pyrolysis, identifying a roadmap to advance the application of this technology at commercial scale.
- Cody J. Wrasman
- A. Nolan Wilson
- Mark R. Nimlos
Biodiesel production from Sisymbrium irio as a potential novel biomass waste feedstock using homemade titania catalyst
- Hammad Ahmad Jan
- Ahmed I. Osman
- David W. Rooney
News and Comment
A fit transportation.
Recent policies are promoting the conditions for a transformation of the transportation sector worldwide. Here, we look at the example from the European Union and reflect on the opportunities that initiatives such as Fit for 55 represent for catalysis science.
Bugging out for jet fuel
As an alternative to fossil fuels for shipping, aviation and rocketry, high-energy polycyclopropanated fuels can be generated using a bacterial host.
- Stacey-Lynn Paiva
Modeling historical impacts of fisheries on biomass
- Kaitlin McCardle
Finding the right blend
- James Gallagher
One catalyst, two fuels
Photocatalytic H 2 production using semiconductors is a promising approach to store solar energy as a chemical fuel, but the oxidizing power of the excited holes is often wasted. Now, holes are harnessed in a dehydrocoupling strategy that simultaneously produces H 2 and diesel fuel precursors from biomass-derived molecules.
- Guanqun Han
Converting two wastes to value
A significant portion of the energy required to electrochemically reduce CO 2 to fuels and chemicals is typically consumed by the accompanying oxygen evolution reaction. Now, researchers show that alternative oxidative reactions using biodiesel-waste could improve the economics and emission profiles of this process.
- André Bardow
- Matthias Wessling
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Bioenergy research studies how to use crops and other agricultural materials to make biofuels and other bioproducts. Biomass energy would improve energy security. It would reduce the use of toxic chemicals . It would bring jobs to rural areas and improve our trade balance . To achieve these benefits, bioenergy research integrates many disciplines that include agronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, and economics. These disciplines work together to advance research on the sustainable production, collection, and conversion of biomass.
Scientists use insights from studies of plants and microorganisms as the basis for bioenergy development. These studies are based on genomics , which studies the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of the genes in organisms. Scientists use this knowledge to develop plant species with modified traits, such as altered cell walls that make them easier to break down, making them useful as raw material for bioenergy production. Scientists can also modify the chemical reactions in a microorganism. These alterations allow microorganisms to convert compounds derived from plants into fuels and chemicals.
DOE Office of Science & Bioenergy Research
DOE’s Office of Science seeks a basic understanding of plant and microbial biology to unlock Nature’s potential to produce renewable fuels and chemicals. Scientists must identify promising plant and microbial species as well as study how to promote the sustainable growth of bioenergy crops. They need to research modifying plants and microorganisms to support beneficial traits. In addition, they need to integrate these efforts to produce biofuel and bioproducts. These efforts are in progress in the DOE Bioenergy Research Centers . These four centers are working to lay the scientific groundwork for a new bio-based economy. Their goal is to coordinate with applied researchers to help develop a range of new products and fuels derived directly from renewable, nonfood biomass.
Bioenergy Research Facts
- Sustainability research conducts long-term studies of bioenergy crop production systems and analyses for biomass supply.
- Feedstock development research designs dedicated bioenergy crops and engineers plants for efficient conversion into fuels and products.
- Plant deconstruction research covers processes that help degrade and separate biomass to facilitate conversion to bioproducts.
- Conversion research focuses on developing new microorganisms that convert biomass materials into fuels, biomass fuels that easily integrate with existing gasoline and other conventional fuel infrastructure, and high-throughput biology tools to scale up biomass conversion.
Resources & Related Terms
- U.S. DOE Bioenergy Research Centers
- U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers: 2020 Program Update
- Big Help from Small Microbes: Electron Transfers to Produce Fuels and Fertilizer
- Oxygen: The Jekyll and Hyde of Biofuels
- Driving to Great: Science and the Journey to Waste-Free Biodiesel
- Behind the Scenes: How Fungi Make Nutrients Available to the World
- Science Highlight: Enhancing Land Surface Models to Grow Perennial Bioenergy Crops
Scientific terms can be confusing. DOE Explains offers straightforward explanations of key words and concepts in fundamental science. It also describes how these concepts apply to the work that the Department of Energy’s Office of Science conducts as it helps the United States excel in research across the scientific spectrum.
- Published: 14 February 2023
Biotechnology for Resource Efficiency, Energy, Environment, Chemicals, and Health
- Ayon Tarafdar 1 ,
- Sunita Varjani 2 ,
- Samir Khanal 3 ,
- Siming You 4 &
- Ashok Pandey 5 , 6
BioEnergy Research volume 16 , pages 1–3 ( 2023 ) Cite this article
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There has been an increasing role and significance of industrial bioprocessing and sustainable developments in different walks of life—be it human life or animal life, plant life, or overall on the environment, which has attained global relevance related to sustainable development goals. Biotechnological innovations are generally sustainability-conscious and have a pivotal role in the current scenario .
This special issue (SI) of the BioEnergy Research journal is based on the presentations made in the International Conference on Biotechnology for Resource Efficiency, Energy, Environment, Chemicals and Health (BREEECH-2021) held at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP), Dehradun, India, during December 1–4, 2021. BREECH-2021 was jointly organized by the CSIR-IIP and the Biotech Research Society, India (BRSI- www.brsi.in ), and supported by the National Institute of Technology Uttarakhand, India; Centre for Energy and Environmental Sustainability (CEES), India; Centre for Development Communications (CDC), India; AKS University, Satna, India; and International Solid Waste Association (India Chapter). The conference themes included Resource Efficiency for Biotic materials, Biofuels, Chemicals and Materials, Biomass and Waste Management, Industrial Biotechnology, Biotechnology of Medicine and Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture, and Bioinformatics and data science. The conference showcased cutting-edge technological developments and offered solutions aimed at next-generation with a cross-field integrated approach. BREECH-2021 also showcased the cutting-edge biotechnological innovation in the areas of industrial, environmental, and food and agricultural biotechnology.
The special issue comprises 17 papers selected following the standard review process of the journal. A paper by Yadva et al. [ 1 ] on multidisciplinary pretreatment approaches to improve the bio-methane production from lignocellulosic biomass presents an overview of physical, chemical, biological, and combinatorial pretreatment methods of lignocellulosic substrates and their effect on AD process. Biological pretreatment has emerged as a more desirable pretreatment method in terms of environmental safety and efficiency for lignin degradation. Though the higher pretreatment duration has been observed as the most significant challenge that needs to be addressed for its adoption on a commercial scale. Therefore, it is recommended to explore the naturally occurring or prepare the genetically engineered microbes for selective degradation of lignin at faster rates and a high tolerance for variation in environmental factors.
Saini et al. [ 2 ] have discussed trends in lignin biotransformations for bio-based products and energy applications. This paper focuses on the progress made in lignin biotransformation’s for the production of bio-based products, chemicals, and bioenergy in the context of the biorefinery concept, with a critical perspective on biotechnological advancements, challenges, and future needs.
Bio-based fuels and chemicals through the biorefinery approach have gained significant interest as an alternative platform for the petroleum-derived processes as these biobased processes are noticed to have positive environmental and societal impacts. Narisetty et al. [ 3 ] discussed this aspect in a paper, presenting the technologies and processes demanding the production of value-added products to understand and inculcate the value of municipal solid wastes and the economy, as needed for the biorefinery aspect. The use of agricultural residue as a substrate and implementation of nanomaterials for cellulase immobilization can improve the efficiency at a higher temperature and will lead to reduce the cost of cellulose-assisted biofuel production. Reshmy et al. [ 4 ] reviewed cellulase immobilization strategies for biofuel production, discussing different cellulase immobilization strategies, factors, and its kinetics for enhanced biofuel production. The expanding need for low-cost immobilized cellulase, as well as its diverse applications in a variety of industries, is propelling research in this field. Singh et al. [ 5 ] also reviewed feedstocks as sustainable substrates for next-generation biofuels, covering feedstocks utilized to produce biofuels, including the various pre-treatment methods, strategies, and techno-economic analysis in order to pave the way for next-generation biofuels. It also covers the advantages, drawbacks, challenges, and current developments.
Considering that biofuel covers major parts of the transportation sector in the global economic scenarios. Therefore, the impact assessment parameters like environmental, economic, and social are necessary to evaluate for better understanding. Keeping in mind, a life cycle assessment of biodiesel has been done using Jatropha curcas as feedstock performed by Bhonsle et al. [ 6 ] in the Chhattisgarh region of India. All the steps from cradle (cultivations, pre-treatment, and transesterification) to gate (biodiesel production) were evaluated. The results indicated that the room temperature process was more energy-saving than the conventional process.
Shiva et al. [ 7 ] studied the enzymatic hydrolysis, kinetic modeling of hemicellulose fraction, and energy efficiency of autohydrolysis pretreatment using agave bagasse. Agave bagasse is a promising and interesting raw material for the development of second-generation biorefineries. However, the intrinsic resistance (recalcitrance) of lignocellulose biomass to enzymatic hydrolysis is a barrier to its effective conversion into fermentable sugars. Therefore, an autohydrolysis process under subcritical conditions is an alternative to provide the fractionation of biomass in terms of the biorefinery concept. From the results, it was concluded that the design and development of the process will allow the establishment of optimal operating conditions and energy efficiency for the development of biorefineries with an impact on the circular bioeconomy.
Resource-efficient production of value-added products from lignocellulosic waste is an important requisite for sustainable development. Since the constituent separation of lignocellulosic waste is challenging due to the energetically robust structure of the cellulose-hemicellulose-lignin network, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy can be used for rapid, non-invasive analysis of cellulose and lignin for lignocellulose farm waste. Pancholi et al. [ 8 ] performed a comparative analysis of lignocellulose agricultural waste and pre-treatment conditions with FTIR and machine learning modeling.
According to Selvam and Balasubramanian [ 9 ], the microwave pyrolysis behavior and interactive effects of process parameters through machine learning are necessary to systematically determine the combined effects on the yield and characteristics of biochar. The study outcome revealed that microwave power is the most significant feature influencing the yield of biochar and its property (HHV). The work gives an insight through a computational approach in improving microwave pyrolysis of biomass for enhanced biochar yield and its properties. Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) is an effective process for bio-oil production. To date, various co-liquefaction studies have been performed using biomasses with significantly different compositions in the presence of various solvents. Biswas et al. [ 10 ] investigated the co-hydrothermal liquefaction of Prot lignin (PL) and Sargassum tenerrimum macroalgae (ST) in water, ethanol, and water–ethanol solvent mixture in different ratios of feedstocks. Results showed that organic compounds were detected in all bio-oils in the order of phenol derivatives > acids/esters > ketones/aldehydes > nitrogen-containing > aromatics compounds and demonstrated an efficient co-HTL process for the production of functional compounds. Devendra and Sukumaran [ 11 ] also used sugarcane bagasse for a comparative evaluation of lignin derived from different sugarcane bagasse pretreatments in the synthesis of wood adhesive. They found that the adhesives derived from acid-pretreated sugarcane bagasse were superior to lignin derived from alkali-pretreated sugarcane bagasse in terms of mechanical properties and shear strength.
Sarkar et al. [ 12 ] studied the influence of antinutrients on bacterial growth and bioethanol production by Klebsiella sp. SWET4 through direct fermentation of fruit wastes: a novel perspective for substrate selection. From the results, it was concluded that ethanol production was proportional to bacterial growth which can also be maximized in substrates containing the least antinutrients. Hence, for the selection of the best suitable substrates for bioethanol production by direct fermentation technique, the growth inhibitory components should be one of the principal criteria. Banerjee et al. [ 13 ] studied dilute acid hydrolysis and bioconversion of waste potato to ethanol and yeast lipid for evaluating carbon flow in waste biorefinery. High quantity of potato wastage from the process and cold storage facilities in India poses serious disposal issues and loss of carbonaceous starches. Waste potato biomass has the potential estimated to be 6.3–7.2 MMT of fermentable sugar equivalent per annum. The authors proposed that with proper supply chain management, this fermentable carbon can be destined as a co-feed in any existing distillery, or even a separate decentralized system could be envisaged. Christopher et al. [ 14 ] worked on the cellulase hyper-producing fungus Penicillium janthinellum NCIM 1366 and presented a wider array of proteins involved in transport and secretion, potentially enabling a diverse substrate range.
Pandey et al. [ 15 ] studied the gradient strategy for mixotrophic cultivation of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii : small steps, a large impact on biofuel potential and lipid droplet morphology. Results unraveled the metabolic regulation of mixotrophic biofuel production in Chlamydomonas , demonstrating gradient strategy as a promising approach for improving the yields of various bioenergy products. A review by Rout et al. [ 16 ] discussed the microalgal-mediated valorization of wastewater from hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass. It concluded that combining various processes, such as microalgae-anaerobic digestion, and bio-electrochemical system—microalgae-anaerobic digestion would be beneficial in maximizing HTWW valorization.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is an efficient and eco-friendly process for the biodegradation of various organic biomass which could potentially produce biomethane and results in no waste accumulation. The palm oil industry concurrently produces three types of possible organic pollutants namely palm oil mill effluent (POME), palm empty fruit bunch fiber (PEFF), and oil palm decanter cake (OPDC). Mamindlapelli et al. [ 17 ] studied the anaerobic mono- and co-digestion of the substrates from the palm industry. Results revealed that the co-digestion of PEFF + POME + OPDC resulted in the highest cumulative methane yield.
Guest editors would like to thank the authors for their submission and revision of the manuscripts in a timely manner and also to the reviewers for their time in reading the manuscripts and giving constructive suggestions to improve them. Thanks are due to Prof. Hector Ruiz, Editor-in-chief, BioEnergy Research , for bringing out this special issue.
Yadav M, Balan V, Varjani S, Tyagi VK, Chaudhury G, Pareek N, Vivekanand V (2022) Multidisciplinary pretreatment approaches to improve the bio-methane production from lignocellulosic biomass. BioEnergy Res:1–20. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10489-z
Saini R, Kaur A, Saini JK, Patel AK, Varjani S, Chen CW, Singhania RR, Dong CD (2022) Trends in lignin biotransformations for bio-based products and energy applications. BioEnergy Res:1–7. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10434-0
Narisetty N, Reshmy R, Maitra S, Tarafdar A, Alphy MP, Kumar AN, Madhavan A, Sirohi R, Awasthi MK, Sindhu R, Varjani S, Binod P (2022) Waste-derived fuels and renewable chemicals for bioeconomy promotion: a sustainable approach. BioEnergy Res:1–7. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10428-y
Reshmy R, Narisetty V, Tarafdar A, Bachan N, Madhavan A, Tiwari A, Chaturvedi P, Sirohi R, Kumar V, Awasthi MK, Binod P, Nagoth JA, Sindhu R (2022) An overview of cellulase immobilization strategies for biofuel production. BioEnergy Res:1–2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10431-3
Singh A, Prajapati P, Vyas S, Gaur VK, Sindhu R, Binod P, Kumar V, Singhania RR, Awasthi MK, Zhang ZQ, Varjani S (2022) A comprehensive review of feedstocks as sustainable substrates for next-generation biofuels. BioEnergy Res:1–8. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10440-2
Bhonsle AK, Singh J, Trivedi J, Atray N (2022) Life cycle assessment studies for biodiesel produced from jatropha curcas via room temperature transesterification process—case study in the Chhattisgarh Region of India. BioEnergy Res:1–4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10461-x
Shiva R-JRM, Rosero-Chasoy G, Lopez-Sandin I, Morais ARC, Ruiz HA (2022) Enzymatic hydrolysis, kinetic modeling of hemicellulose fraction, and energy efficiency of autohydrolysis pretreatment using agave bagasse. BioEnergy Res:1–3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10442-0
Pancholi MJ, Khristi A, Athira KM, Bagchi D (2022) Comparative analysis of lignocellulose agricultural waste and pre-treatment conditions with FTIR and machine learning modeling. BioEnergy Res:1–5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10444-y
Selvam SM, Balasubramanian P (2022) Influence of biomass composition and microwave pyrolysis conditions on biochar yield and its properties: a machine learning approach. BioEnergy Res:1–3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10447-9
Biswas B, Kumar A, Kaur R, Krishna BB, Bhaskar T (2022) Co-hydrothermal liquefaction of lignin and macroalgae: effect of process parameters on product distribution. BioEnergy Res:1–2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10437-x
Devendra LP, Sukumaran RK (2022) Comparative evaluation of lignin derived from different sugarcane bagasse pretreatments in the synthesis of wood adhesive. BioEnergy Res:1–2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10450-0
Sarkar D, Poddar K, Maity S, Patil PB, Sarkar A (2022) Influence of antinutrients on bacterial growth and bioethanol production by Klebsiella sp. SWET4 through direct fermentation of fruit wastes: a novel perspective for substrate selection. BioEnergy Res:1–2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10469-3
Banerjee A, Sailwal M, Hafeez M, Jana A, Porwal J, Bhaskar T, Ghosh D (2022) Dilute acid hydrolysis and bioconversion of waste potato to ethanol and yeast lipid for evaluating carbon flow in waste biorefinery. BioEnergy Res:1–10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10433-1
Christopher M, Sreeja-Raju AR, Valappil PK, Gokhale DV, Sukumaran RK (2022) Cellulase hyper producing fungus Penicillium janthinellum NCIM 1366 elaborates a wider array of proteins involved transport and secretion, potentially enabling a wider substrate range. BioEnergy Res:1–3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10407-3
Pandey S, Kumar P, Dasgupta S, Archana G, Bagchi D (2022) Gradient-strategy for mixotrophic cultivation of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii : small steps, a large impact on biofuel potential and lipid droplet morphology. BioEnergy Res:1–4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10454-w
Rout PR, Goel M, Mohanty A, Paney DS, Halder N, Mukherjee S, Bhatia SK, Sahoo NK, Varjani S (2022) Recent advancements in microalgal mediated valorisation of wastewater from hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass. BioEnergy Res:1–6. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10421-5
Mamindlapelli NK, Arelii V, Jukanti A, Maddala R, Anupoju GR (2022) Anaerobic co-digestion of biogenic wastes available at palm oil extraction factory: assessment of methane yield, estimation of kinetic parameters and understanding the microbial diversity. Bioenergy Res:1–5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12155-022-10472-8
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Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawai’i, Honolulu, USA
James Watt School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
Centre for Innovation and Translational Research, CSIR-Indian Institute for Toxicology Research, Lucknow, 226 001, India
Sustainability Cluster, School of Engineering, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, 248 007, India
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Tarafdar, A., Varjani, S., Khanal, S. et al. Biotechnology for Resource Efficiency, Energy, Environment, Chemicals, and Health. Bioenerg. Res. 16 , 1–3 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12155-023-10574-x
Published : 14 February 2023
Issue Date : March 2023
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s12155-023-10574-x
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Bioenergy Research Centers
Multiple societal benefits underlie U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research efforts to support a viable and sustainable domestic biofuels and bioproducts industry derived from nonfood lignocellulosic plant biomass. More specifically, these benefits include ensuring future energy security, lowering greenhouse gases to mitigate climate impacts, expanding the diversity and range of available biobased products, producing fewer toxic chemicals and waste products, creating jobs in rural areas, and improving the trade balance.
The Four Centers
The Bioenergy Research Center (BRC) program’s mission is to break down the barriers to actualizing a domestic bioenergy industry. The centers—each led by a DOE national laboratory or top university—take distinctive approaches toward the common goal of accelerating the pathway to improving and scaling up advanced biofuel and bioproduct production processes. The four current centers are:
- Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) , led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. CABBI is integrating recent advances in agronomics, genomics, biosystems design, and computational biology to increase the value of energy crops, using a “plants as factories” approach to grow fuels and chemicals in plant stems and an automated foundry to convert biomass into valuable chemicals that are ecologically and economically sustainable.
- Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI) , led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. CBI is accelerating the domestication of bioenergy-relevant plants and microbes to enable high impact, value-added coproduct development at multiple points in the bioenergy supply chain.
- Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) , led by the University of Wisconsin—Madison in partnership with Michigan State University. GLBRC is developing science and technological advances to ensure sustainability at each step in the process of creating biofuels and bioproducts from lignocellulose.
- Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) , led by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. JBEI is using the latest tools in molecular biology, chemical engineering, and computational and robotics technologies to transform biomass into biofuels and bioproducts.
Originally, DOE BER funded three BRCs over a period of 10 years (2007-2017). These three BRCs, supported by DOE’s Genomic Science program, made significant advances toward this new biobased economy. They produced multiple breakthroughs in the form of deepened understanding of sustainable biomass production practices, targeted reengineering of biomass feedstocks, development of new methods for deconstructing feedstocks, and engineering of microbes for more effective production of a diverse range of biofuels.
- BRCs 2007-2017 By the Numbers
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Nemet informs outlook on scaling of carbon removal technologies
The rate of development for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies that could be critical tools to combat climate change is in line with similar technologies over the last century but outpaced by policy targets and industry projections, according to a new study led by Professor Gregory Nemet.
Another new study led by Nemet finds that novel CDR methods need to scale at a much faster rate to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal of limiting warming to 2 or 1.5 degrees Celsius, which would require removing hundreds of gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the course of the century.
CDR involves capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in a variety of ways. Examples of conventional CDR include reforestation, wetland restoration and improved forest management. All other CDR methods have only been deployed at small scale and are collectively known as novel CDR. Examples include bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS), direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS), and biochar.
An innovative database puts CDR in historical context
In their paper published October 30, 2023, in Communications, Earth & Environment , Nemet and his research team debut the Historical Adoption of TeCHnology (HATCH) dataset—an innovative project that tracks and analyzes a variety of agricultural, industrial, and consumer technologies adopted over the past century that can provide insight into the scale-up of new technologies such as carbon removal.
The study analyzed the emergence and growth of 148 technologies across 11 categories going back to the early 20 th century. It then cross-referenced this data with model CDR scenarios established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), company announcements of CDR scale-up plans, and CDR targets in policy announcements.
While the paper found evidence that the required scale-up of carbon removal technologies fits within the historical range of previous efforts, company announcements and government targets implied much faster growth than the historical record and IPCC CDR scenarios.
“The scale-up rates needed for carbon removal to meet the 2- and 1.5-degree Celsius targets are within the range of historical experience, even if at the high end,” says Nemet. “We can learn from that experience to facilitate getting carbon removal to climate-relevant scale over the next three decades.”
Novel CDR must scale rapidly to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050
In their paper published November 15, 2023, in Joule , Nemet and his research team find that 2 gigatons of carbon dioxide removal per year is taking place currently, with nearly all of it from forestry and only 0.1% from novel CDR.
This is all despite modeling scenarios that show that we need to remove hundreds of gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the course of the century to meet the Paris Agreement and ensure the sustained wellbeing of our planet.
The study finds that virtually all scenarios that limit warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius require novel CDR. On average, scenarios increase novel CDR by a factor of 1,300 by mid-century.
By looking at the formative phase of technologies similar to DACCS, the paper’s results suggest that the formative phases for DACCS and other novel CDR methods must accelerate to meet the needs of a warming planet. The formative phase of a technology takes place between first commercialization and rapid scale-up. Case studies of innovation show the importance of this period in technology adoption.
“To become climate relevant, the formative phases for air filter systems and other novel methods of carbon removal need to be at least as active as the fastest historical analogues,” says Jan Minx , head of the MCC working group Applied Sustainability Science and a co-author of both studies. “This will require more serious commitments toward novel removal technologies than are currently in place. The required levels will only be feasible if we see substantial development of novel CDR’s formative phase in the next 15 years.”
The results of these studies will also be included in the forthcoming 2023 UN Emissions Gap Report , which includes a chapter on carbon removal with contributions by Minx and Nemet.
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