A global energy supply based on biomass grown to generate electricity and produce fuel is a real possibility. According to Prof. Jürgen O. Metzger from Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg in Germany and Prof. Aloys Huettermann from the University of Goettingen in Germany, it is both a sustainable and economical scenario, contrary to current thinking which suggests it is unrealistic. Their findings are published online this week in Springer’s journal, Naturwissenschaften.
Fossil fuels including oil, natural gas and coal - which provide almost all of our global energy needs - will be completely exhausted in the next 75 years based on our current consumption levels, and most likely before then bearing in mind the increasing energy demand worldwide. What’s then? It is commonly assumed that the amount of biomass that can be grown on available land in competition to food is so limited that a scenario based on biomass as the major source of energy is unrealistic.
Metzger and Huettermann show that enough biomass can be grown on land previously degraded by human activities in historical times to meet the global energy demand predicted by the International Energy Agency in the Reference Scenario for 2030 – and what’s more, this energy can be produced both sustainably and economically.
The solution is to plant fast-growing trees on degraded areas, and harvest the biomass for energy usage.This afforestation would not compete with the need for arable land for food production. The authors argue that the investment required for afforestation and transformation of the biomass to electrical energy, heat, fuels and chemical feedstock is actually sustainable and not more, probably even less, than what would need to be invested in infrastructure for non-sustainable fossil energy. The continuous use of biomass as an energy source is also carbon neutral which means that the energetic usage produces not more CO2 as used for the growth of the respective biomass, thus slowing down and stopping the build-up of CO2 and even slowly reducing the CO2 content in the atmosphere. Their scenario would also have a number of additional advantages, including a convenient way of storing energy, regenerating the global water and especially drinking water resources and controlling soil degradation.
Other renewable energies, including solar, tidal and wind power will contribute to the energy mix, making the biomass scenario even more realistic. The authors do concede that new technologies will be required to convert the chemical energy stored in biomass to electrical energy more efficiently.
They add that “the scenario of afforestation for energy use will be an important step to realize the United Nations programs to combat desertification and deforestation, without additional costs.”
Joan Robinson | alfa
Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects
15.12.2017 | Cornell University
Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake
12.12.2017 | Duke University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences