partially eaten apple

Food waste can be used as biomass to store carbon – helping us keep carbon out of the atmosphere.

There are a lot of scientists working on ways to reduce humanity’s carbon emissions, and there are several systems in place to do exactly that. Carbon capture refers to removing CO2 from industrial waste, and there re a number of systems already set up to do that. Unfortunately, to date none of them are all that efficient. Solid materials are often used to capture carbon, and while that does help the situation, it doesn’t do a terribly good job of it.

A team of scientists in the United Kingdom have been working with biomass waste material, like old food or seaweed, to test how that captures carbon. They realized about a decade ago that biomass like this could be used to capture carbon, but they’ve only just announced their findings on the viability of such systems.

It turns out that biomass is a lot better at capturing carbon, about 65% more effective than existing systems to be exact. It’s also better at capturing carbon mixed with nitrogen–about four times as effective as current systems. The team is still working on finding ways to make this kind of biomass waste work in factories and the like, but they think such systems would not only significantly reduce carbon emissions, but would also be cheaper than what is currently being used.

The benefit of using waste biomass to capture carbon is that, well, it’s waste. There’s a lot of it in our world, especially in countries like the United Kingdom or the United States where people throw out a lot of food. What to do with that waste afterward remains to be seen, but considering it’s biomass, chances are that even after it absorbs all that carbon, it will still be pretty easy to handle. Such a system would not only be cheaper (something that business owners love), but would allow us to keep that stuff out of landfills a little longer.