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Illustration by Quickhoney

Brave Thinker
the Atlantic

monthly magazine, October 2009

Name: Danny Day
Job: Founder & President of EPRIDA

Why he’s brave:
His company offers a promising method to absorb and bury excess carbon dioxide.

Quote:
We have 3 billion people out there who are at risk for climate change, and they can be making money solving our global problem.

Indigenous tribes of the Amazon Basin had a neat trick for sequestering carbon: they buried a combination of animal by-products and charcoal in their fields, which made their crops grow in abundance. Thousands of years later, that soil, known as “terra preta,” remains exceptionally fertile—and rich in carbon.

Danny Day believes that this process could be the key to relieve the atmosphere of its burgeoning levels of carbon dioxide. He and others advocate expanded use of a material called "biochar, which results when organic waste—like peanut shells or chicken excrement—is cooked in a special container that limits its exposure to oxygen (pyrolysis). This process creates small pellets of charcoal (biochar) that lock in the carbon from the cooked organic matter—preventing it from escaping back into the atmosphere—and generates gasses that can be used as fuel. When the biochar is buried in the right agricultural areas, it enriches the soil, increases crop yields, and keeps the carbon trapped beneath the ground. The NASA climate expert James Hansen says that the carbon could be stored for “centuries to millennia.”

EPRIDA hopes to use the biochar to soak up carbon dioxide at polluting factories and then bury it in areas with poor soil quality—potentially addressing two grave problems with one elegant solution.


Corn Test Plots
with & without biochar
EPRIDA 2005
CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTO VIEW

EPRIDA Research Facility
University of Georgia, Athens, 2005

Pyrolysis Testing Unit
EPRIDA 2007
compressed pellets
Peanut Shells

biochar Corn Test Plots
without & with biochar
CLICK FOR VIDEO
Expressed Gases
low temperature pyrolysis
white smoke = steam
CLICK FOR PHOTOS
Microscopic Pores
in low temperature charcoal
living spaces for microbes


TERRA: The Earth Renewal & Restoration Alliance David Yarrowdyarrow5@gmail.com — updated 11/24/2010
www.carbon-negative.uswww.ancientforests.uswww.nutrient-dense.infowww.OnondagaVesica.infowww.dyarrow.org