Thursday, September 28, 2023

Locking up carbon with corn and the road to greener steel

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Shreya Christina
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For the past few weeks, a team of executives from a company called Charm Industrial has been working on the fringes of Kansas cornfields, moving rolled bales of stalks, leaves, chaff and tassels onto a trailer.

Inside, a device called a pyrolyzer uses high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to break down the plant material into a mixture of biochar and bio-oil. This oil is pumped into EPA-regulated deep wells used for industrial waste, or salt caverns. Charm says it solidifies there, trapping carbon for thousands to millions of years that would otherwise go back into the air when farmers burn crop residues or let them rot.

The San Francisco startup has been capturing carbon in this way for the past two years, on behalf of companies including Microsoft. Late last year, it announced that the process has safely locked up nearly the equivalent of 5,500 tons of CO2 to date, claiming it’s the largest amount of long-term carbon removal delivered to date.

But there are still plenty of questions about how reliable, scalable and economical this approach will prove to be. Read the full story.

—James Temple

How Charm Industrial hopes to use crops to reduce steel emissions

Charm Industrial is also exploring whether the same bio-oil can be used to reduce emissions from iron and steel production, and is pursuing a new technical avenue for cleaning up the dirtiest industrial sector.

The approach could be good news for companies forced to explore cleaner production methods amid high emissions and increasingly strict climate policies. Read the full story.

—James Temple

The must reads

I’ve scoured the internet to find the funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology today.

1 The Texas Shooter Outlined His Plans In Facebook Posts Before The Shooting
Meta said the direct messages were not discovered until after the tragedy. †WP
Repeated mass shootings are a problem unique to America.New Yorker
AI-powered metal detectors are a controversial solution.WP
Three false claims about the shooting are circulating online† †NYT

2 Twitter fined for sharing users’ phone numbers
It allowed numbers and email addresses to inform targeted ads. †Variety
Elon Musk needs more money if he wants to buy the company. FT

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