Natural processes and human activities produce vast amounts of dead vegetation which return carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through decay and combustion. Now a new article published in Climatic Change—led by researcher Philip M. Orton, funded through CPO’s Urban Northeast Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) team, and his co-author Leonard A. Miller—describes a method for sequestering this carbon that could help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The method involves converting decaying vegetation into a form of biocoal called Black Pellets and depositing them in the deep ocean.
The process was originally developed to convert raw vegetation into a form that is suitable for large-scale energy applications. Black Pellets have a higher density than seawater and resistance to microbial decay, offering a potentially environmentally safe way of sequestering vegetation carbon on the seafloor and a means of achieving long-lasting negative emissions. If confirmed by research, this method would be an addition to the sparse toolbox of negative emission technologies which would give society more flexibility in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.