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Synopsis of Findings

  1. The conversion of organic matter into hydrogen using thermal catalytic processes allows for the sequestration of as much as 30% by weight of the biomass as fixed carbon char. Using steam reforming we have demonstrated the production of 7-8% hydrogen by weight in a 50kg/hr pilot facility. (Internal reports, Yaboah, 2002)
  2. This fixed carbon char has structural advantages when used as a soil amendment. (Glaser et al, 2002)
  3. The form will eventually be broken down by weather and microbial action but the time frame is in thousands of years. (Skjempsted and Schmidt, 2001)
  4. As a soil amendment, it provides substantive economic benefits in the form of improvement in plant yields, as much as 200-300% increasing natural sequestration efforts (Steiner, 2002).
  5. A portion of the hydrogen (less than 25%) is converted to ammonia and when combined with the carbon char as a catalyst, it can sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion at ambient temperatures and pressure, without expensive separation technologies while creating a carbon rich slow release ammonium bicarbonate fertilizer. When used to produce a 10% commercial nitrogen fertilizer, each ton of hydrogen effectively sequesters 12.7 tons of equivalent carbon dioxide. (Internal experimentation and J. Lee, ORNL Research Reports, 2002)
  6. The ammonia/carbon scrubbing system also removes SOx and NOx further increasing its economic benefit (Lee, 2002)
  7. The stabilized ammonium bicarbonate compound is intricately bound in the sequestering carbon matrix making it resistant to leaching and more available to plants during their growth cycle, thereby reducing nitrous oxide release typical for most fertilizers. (Lee, 2002)
  8. The materialís natural absorbency decreases leaching and increases available nutrients to plant roots as they are adsorbed into the carbon matrix which forms a nutrient reservoir. (Lehman, 2002)
  9. The material increases cation exchange capacity. (Glaser et al, 2002)
  10. The material increases available water capacity. (Glaser, 2002)
  11. The reduction of farm chemical runoff provides an added public benefit however herbicide deactivation is a downside.  Research is needed to determine cases where herbicide may need to be incorporated with the fertilizer. (Yelverton, 1996)
  12. The temperature profile creates the deposition of natural fatty acids, which are used as a source of energy by microbes inside the sequestering carbon matrix increasing microbial activity and soil fertility. (USGS Report- Kingsford Site)

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