A clandestine effort to bury wood for carbon removal raises millions

Following a series of devastating fires in the West, some states are increasingly funding efforts to clear forests to reduce these hazards. This includes removing shrubs, felling trees or using controlled burns to disrupt the landscape and prevent fires from reaching the forest crown.

Justin Freiberg, executive director of the Yale Carbon Containment Lab, which has conducted a series of field trials investigating “wood sequestration,” says states are expected to generate more and more forest waste from these efforts as climate change accelerates in the coming years. approaches under different conditions for several years.

However, today’s harvested plants and trees are often piled up in cleared areas and then left to rot or deliberately burned. This allows the carbon stored in them to be returned to the atmosphere, causing further warming.

Kodama hopes to address both the bushfire hazards and the emissions issue. The company says it’s developing automated ways to thin out overcrowded forests that will make the process cheaper and faster (though it doesn’t discuss that part in detail yet). After stripping branches of trees that are too small to be sold as lumber, they will load them on trucks and send them to a prepared pit.

Small logs and other biomass collected by Kodama.


The key would be to ensure that what the company calls a “wooden crate” keeps out oxygen and water, which would otherwise accelerate decomposition and prevent greenhouse gases from leaking out.

In fieldwork with Yale researchers, expected to begin in the third quarter of next year, the company plans to build a burial mound seven yards high, three yards deep and 58 yards long in the Nevada desert.

They plan to cover the biomass with a geotextile liner and then bury it under the soil and in a chosen layer of natural vegetation to absorb moisture. Jimmy Voorhis, head of biomass use and policy, says that given the area’s dry conditions, this will create a closed system that prevents “decomposition agents from acting on the buried wood mass” and keeps the carbon in place for thousands of years. code.

Freiberg also adds that they will leave the wood exposed on the construction site and create smaller side vaults designed in different ways. Teams will continue to monitor these and compare decomposition rates and any greenhouse gas leaks for years to come. The teams hope to draw long-term estimates of carbon storage from this data, along with other studies and experiments.

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