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Novel Approaches to Carbon Management: Separation, Capture, Sequestration, and Conversion to Useful Products - Workshop Report
areas are (1) biomass management, (2) catalytic and/or photolytic CO2 reduction, (3) biocatalysts for CO2 binding and reduction, and (4) technology opportunities. The following sections describe the basic concepts, discuss their potential significance, and indicate areas in which research presents opportunities for breakthroughs.
Terrestrial sequestration of carbon by biomass production is an approach for sequestering significant amounts of CO2. Sequestration through biomass offers the opportunity for CO2 to be recycled through fuel utilization or value-added products or for CO2 to be directly sequestered. Although biomass production systems currently exist, advances in the utilization of biomass for sequestration could have a significant impact on the adoption of this technology, since biomass processes offer the prospect of obtaining a high-concentration CO2 stream from the processing of the methane or higher-molecular-weight compounds. These feedstocks would arise from aerobic or anaerobic biodigestion of biomass, gasification of biomass with subsequent chemical processing, or extraction of oils or solids from biomass for direct use or subsequent chemical processing. The products that could result from biomass-based processes include useful fuels such as methane, liquid ketones for hydrogenation into transportation fuels, and novel cellulose sheets. In addition, biomass is a possible means of producing a condensed phase of CO2 that could be sequestered directly in the ground leading to a net removal of carbon from the atmosphere. Suggestions of novel means of drastically reducing the capital cost of a biomass plant were presented.
This area of biomass management is of importance for the following reasons:
Research directed at novel approaches for increasing biomass production, improving processing, and enhancing utilization and sequestration would make a significant contribution to enhancing this technology.
Recent advances in modern biology, including advances in genomic sciences, provide new and promising approaches for enhancing biomass production, enhancing biomass processing, and producing novel products.
Areas in which research presents opportunities for breakthroughs in biomass management include the following:
There is the opportunity to capitalize on advances in genomic science to develop a basic understanding of the biology of plants, which could lead to the development of approaches that will have a significant impact on biomass production. Research would include studies of basic mechanisms of CO2 fixation, manipulation of plant respiration, altering the way in which carbon is partitioned to different parts and structures of plants, and enhancement of nitrogen use efficiency.
Improvements are needed in the processing of biomass into either fuel or products, including opportunities offered by genomics, innovations in low-cost fermentation processes, or other conversion methods (e.g., thermal-chemical