The grasses, especially Bamboos,
achieve sufficient biomass to account for
Substantial amounts of Carbon Sequestration
3.67 Tons of Atmospheric CO2=1ton Bamboo Carbon Fiber.
The rate of growth is about 5x more efficient per hectare than Pine, over a 15 year period.
If planting bamboo would produce accounting for a reasonable time frame of at least 100 years, it could qualify as a “carbon credit” under the Koyoto Treaty (CDM). Unfortunately, forestation/aforestation data can't really guarantee that with any certainty. That is why there are so few Biological based CDM.
The best way to avoid "slippage” back into the atmosphere from any sort of Bio based CO2 sequestration project, would be to convert the C from fast growing biomass into inert permanent form, or fuel; in the form of either Charcoal, or Hydrogen; obviating the need for storage.
The tremendous growth rate of bamboo can be the basis for annual CDMs and create the "Gold
Standard" of Carbon Credits. Bamboo biomass produced on marginally productive land with waste water, will provide a lot of new jobs; if we can develop the processes for permanent (or very long term) Carbon sequestration. Annual credits would sell at a discount to longer term CDM's and allow budget flexibility, in a constantly changing regulatory environment.
Ideally, solar kilns will provide the heat for carbonization, so that we would produce pure C, in the form of charcoal; which can be considered inert; and can be tilled into soil for thousands of years of carbon storage; possibly after being used as a highly efficient water purification filter. Value can be added if it is inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi. It can then be sold as a plant growth amendment that saves water and fertilizer.
Bacteria and enzymes can convert biomass directly into Hydrogen, which can be used in
pollution free combustion, or as feed stock for fuel cells. The by product of
that is Lignin, which can be used as an organic soil amendment. The goal will be to supply sufficient fuel to enable every person to operate a multi use fuel cell, with sufficient output to charge vehicles and run a modern home, at a cost below that of centralized power.
We need research to develop the most efficient methods for these potential CDM
processes; and to make it a world wide project. India, and Sri Lanka are particularly suitable for this project because there is a readily available source of material that can be used while large projects are being designed and established (between 6-10 years is the time it takes to bring plantation scale Industrial bamboo to full production).
An alternative to large mono crops would be to unite small farmers in sufficient numbers to provide an equivalent amount of material, while maintaining food production at current levels....
Intercroping Bamboo with other food crops would prove beneficial from a social environmental standpoint, and will enhance the growth rate of biomass; while diversifying and adding value to farm income.
Natural bamboo forests are now classified as trees, (even though it is a grass) in India, so Concessions are now available for local tribal use...The new Policy will have to be studied to formulate a proposal for industrial use of this valuable resource. All potential revenue streams must be considered from logistical and biological parameters, to maximize the ROI, while providing added income and opportunity to millions of people. Bamboo is truly “the next big thing”, and India has the second largest amount of natural bamboo forest in the world. Research has shown that natural bamboo forests are not efficient carbon sinks, compared with trees. However, if properly managed, they surpass trees in total biomass production by about year 10 in the growth cycle. After year 5, a bamboo forest can be thinned by ⅓ , biannually, so the total (by weight) production of a managed bamboo plantation would be equal to or greater than a plantation of fast growing eucalyptus, over a 60 year period (clear cutting at year 30 and 60, is the normal lifetime of a managed tree plantation).
Cost estimates to grow large amounts of Bamboo will vary regionally. Ideally, new areas that are unsuitable for agriculture or urban development, near sources of waste water, would be the low end of the scale, while natural existing forests that are sustainably managed might be at the mid range, and private land acquisition somewhat higher. Time may be the most expensive aspect of a large scale project, as marginal growing conditions will require longer to bring up to full potential production.
The sequencing of the Grass Genome has given us the opportunity to engineer for particular traits, so more research is vital, and that can be the most expensive initial cost. India has been trying to build new village level cottage industries based upon the traditional uses for bamboo, and that includes research into such things as cultivation and harvesting for sustainability, bio mass power generation, bamboo derived food, and construction materials. More basic research must be done to support these efforts, and to create entirely new uses for bio derived materials and processes. Fortunately, the Internet allows world wide collaboration, and many parallel research projects can share their efforts to find sustainable alternatives for many materials and processes.
Now is the best time in history to use science to address the biggest challenges to the advancement of civilization, but as we can see by the failure of governments to implement minimal pollution reduction treaties, the negative effects of inaction will fall most heavily upon the poorest half of the population. Bio based sequestration and remediation is the easiest low tech tool that can be used to counter air and water pollution, and it can be done by everyone in many simple ways. Early education is the key to life time habits, so every effort should be made to teach young children about growing and maintaining all sorts of useful plants. That simple introduction will lead to more awareness and eventually a new paradigm shift away from total reliance upon extractive finite resources. That should be reason enough to encourage governments to sponsor basic research, and to insist upon open source access to the latest results.