Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Paper

When I think about it, Paper is a kind of carbon sequestering. Trees that get made into paper are grown specifically for that purpose on large plantations owned by the paper company. After being made into paper, they spend varying time being shuffled around various printers, desks, envelopes, and so on until they are eventually thrown away into a landfill, where they at some point return to the pre-tree carbon.
If we were to somehow figure out a way to keep the paper from rotting, this could actually prove an interesting way to keep carbon out of the air. It's commercial, so someone could actually make money on it, which means the big corporations could get involved....

4 comments:

TwoYaks said...

Hi! I just saw you pop up on my list of blog readers, and wanted to say hello! And, you have a pretty cool blog too! I'd had about the same thoughts too. I wonder if one could just start tree farms, except instead of ending up as paper (as most farmed timber does) burying them in caves.

I did wonder how much energy would be required to move the logs - in the same token, how much energy would be required to make the paper? It could end up being a net carbon increase due to the production requirements. We'd need to do the math to see how many grams of carbon are in a sheet of paper, and how many grams of carbon are used to produce the paper...

themadengineer said...

Moving the trees is a simple physics problem, distance times mass, and how fast (m/s), producing joules. A typical tree weighs about 1.3 grams per cubic centimeter, about one quarter of this is carbon. We want it to go to the nearest cave, the distance to it varying by where we choose to grow the trees, and typical car acceleration is about 2.77 m/s^2.
In an earlier post, I propose growing Eucalyptus and Kudzu, encasing it in cement, and sinking it to the bottom of the ocean, to similar effect.
As for paper, I'm a little less familiar with the process, other than pulping, bleaching, and quite a lot of transportation tends to be involved. Making these cars electric or nuclear powered would greatly reduce their carbon footprint.
Your blog is awesome too.

Viktor Lofgren said...

Well, what you propose is kinda like how crude oil came to be in the first place. Biomass got stuck under mud and soil, and turned into coal, natural gas and oil in the anaerobic high-pressure environment.

Though artificially replicating this process feels a lot like sweeping the problem under the rug.

themadengineer said...

When you hear the phrase "carbon sequestering," that is basically "Let's sweep it under the rug." The idea being to capture the carbon for a period of about ten years.

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