Is wood CO neutral
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22-08-2011, 02:24 PM
Is wood CO neutral
Given that the rule is applied, for every tree you cut you plant a new one, is wood considered CO neutral upon combustion?

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22-08-2011, 03:42 PM (This post was last modified: 22-08-2011 03:49 PM by FSM_scot.)
RE: Is wood CO neutral
(22-08-2011 02:24 PM)The_observer Wrote:  Given that the rule is applied, for every tree you cut you plant a new one, is wood considered CO neutral upon combustion?

Hmm possibly as you are only putting back into the atmosphere carbon taken in by the tree which will then be absorbed by the new trees planted.
It's certainly better than burning fossil fuels which puts carbon into the atmosphere that was removed millions of years ago.

It also depends where you get the wood from. If you are getting the wood from half way around the world it's not going to be carbon neutral.

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26-08-2011, 01:30 AM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
Now that you mentioned it, last thing I heard about the oil is that it is not of organic nature, that it is simply a part of the planet, not something that was made by decomposing of plants and animals. The main reason for this theory is the quantity of oil found in the world, it is simply too much of it to support the original theory. What did you hear about this, do any of you have any interesting thoughts? To me it sounds more realistic than this organic origin.

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26-08-2011, 05:44 AM (This post was last modified: 26-08-2011 06:07 AM by DeepThought.)
RE: Is wood CO neutral
(26-08-2011 01:30 AM)Filox Wrote:  Now that you mentioned it, last thing I heard about the oil is that it is not of organic nature, that it is simply a part of the planet, not something that was made by decomposing of plants and animals. The main reason for this theory is the quantity of oil found in the world, it is simply too much of it to support the original theory. What did you hear about this, do any of you have any interesting thoughts? To me it sounds more realistic than this organic origin.

That's the first I heard of it. Doesn't it make sense that dead plants etc can be trapped underground and accumulate over time. The Arabs are already pumping seawater into the ground to get the last bit of oil out. Given the millions of years and the fact that those fossil fuel resources are drying up I would say the original theory is correct. Especially since we have strains of bacteria in nature that smell just like a gas station when they have a good meal. All the methane trapped underground in liquid form under high pressure. How else do you explain that?

@Observer
Depends on allot of factors, the type of tree etc. Also a newly planted tree will take a long time to mature and lock in the carbon. Sometimes as the roots decompose it have release additional co2. I hope you aren't releasing carbon monoxide into the air, that is quite dangerous and reactive! Tongue
If you want to burn wood in a way that maximizes carbon monoxide production you should restrict its air/oxygen supply. Even then it still want be a large CO producer. Heat + carbon chains + not enough oxygen will release many more free radicals.

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26-08-2011, 07:56 AM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
When properly harvested, wood is in fact a very sustainable and neutral heat source. As a basic rule, when you cut down a tree, you take the height of that tree and make sure the next tree you cut is one and a half times that distance from the first. This opens the canopy just enough to allow enough extra sunlight to create fast, natural growth, pretty much the same way it would occur from deadfall. This is how nature renews growth, and is extremely effective. Remember that ALL growth sequesters carbon and "cleans" the air, so you don't have to replace every tree you harvest, as long as you are harvesting responsibly. It's actually far more effective NOT to plant a tree to replace the one you cut down when using this method.

Approx four acres of woods is enough to harvest wood for an average homes heating needs. (That's assuming a 1200sq foot home, an average garage and a barn). So you may ask, "well Stark, what about different climates?" The cool thing is, in a colder climate that would require more lumber, the native trees will tend to be faster growing because they are accustomed to a shorter, cooler growing season. This formula doesn't start to break down until you reach the arctic, where permafrost exists. Otherwise, when harvested effectively and used conservatively, by the time you reached the starting point on your four acres, the growth will have been replaced. Of course there are exceptions, but this general rule, when applied with precision, means less emissions than any other method of heating because you are not only removing wood carefully, but also creating more vegetation than was origionally there to compensate. Using forests with a stewardship approach for it's resources, instead of cutting them down then planting new trees is about as environmentally friendly as it gets.

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26-08-2011, 12:35 PM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
How about the process of actually cutting them and transporting them to the end-user? I guess you need to calculate that in into your 4 acres then?

I came to this question while wondering whether wood would be a real, sustainable and renewable substitute for coal.

Btw Stark, How come you know so much about growing stuff? Do you hold a degree in agronomy?

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26-08-2011, 10:06 PM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
Cutting and transport is a very good point. With a minimal amount of transport, I would suspect that it's still a very good practice (from my perspective it's about cutting wood on the same land it will be used, so I'm not sure how much transport would negate the positive impact of forestry stewardship)

The only degree I hold is the one they give out at the school of hard knocks. LOL, never was very good at school. I'm very good at learning about things that I find either interesting or important. Also, growing things is what I do for a living, and I'm a bit of a tree hugger. Put those two together and things like forestry management, agronomy, botany, and anything else related end up being a pretty big focus. When I learn that stuff I soak it up like a sponge. Couple that with an inability to properly categorize things into long term vs short term memory, and you end up with...well...me. The stuff I know, I know well, and I am a wealth of completely useless information. Just don't ask me when my wifes birthday is, what I had for lunch, or even my grandmothers first name. Those are all things I'd have to check on.

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26-08-2011, 10:28 PM (This post was last modified: 26-08-2011 10:31 PM by DeepThought.)
RE: Is wood CO neutral
Burning wood might be close to carbon neutral if you replace it with equivalent growth but there are other problems with burning wood. The transportation and labor costs really put it behind if your talking about supplying others. Wood isn't very energy dense compared with coal so that makes it even worse.

The problems with wood are pollution since there are allot of other compounds in wood that dont burn clean like methane.
Coal is dirty and costs allot of lives/year worldwide if you add up the isotopes and other crap it puts in the atmosphere and the casualties in the mines.

If your thinking of a long term energy solution for the world population neither is suitable. We need a cheap convenient way to generate electricity.

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26-08-2011, 10:58 PM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
Transport and labor costs don't always need to exist. Truth be told, they rarely need to exist. Come to my place, cut your own trees, and bring it home in your pickup after the barbecue you would have driven out for anyways! Seriously though, wood heat is not a good solution for everyone, but it is a great solution for a lot of people. As for the pollution created by burning wood, it is miniscule compared to the pollution created by methane. It's just that the pollution caused by methane is indirect. (Once the technology advances to the point where it's sustainable, however, it will be a great solution. Methane "harvesting may very well be the common source of heat in the future)

Cheap, sustainable electricity. We've got it. Solar. Even the batteries used to store solar energy are improving by leaps and bounds every day. Problem is (risking sounding like a conspiracy theorist here) research and developmeny is not supported by the corporations with the big bucks or government. Both for the same reason. It makes people able to produce their own electricity. And god forbid we should be independant, self sustaining and *gasp* not lining the pockets of those who need no lining.

Much of this, however, is moot. Before looking into better heating solutions, most people need to start at the beginning. That's with heat RETENTION, in the form of insulation (sometimes as simple as making sure there is no gap between your basement and the surrounding soil) and home design. For example, because of my location in the north, I was able to design my house so that in the winter the sun pours into my south facing windows and is circulated throughout with a simple, energy efficient ceiling fan. In the summer, when the sun is higher in the sky, those same windows are protected by a roof overhang, shading them and preventing the need for extra air conditioning to offset the heat. And theres tons of things you can do that are cheap and easy to use less energy to heat and cool your house.

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27-08-2011, 10:28 AM
RE: Is wood CO neutral
(26-08-2011 10:28 PM)DeepThought Wrote:  We need a cheap convenient way to generate electricity.
Our energy problem will never be solved with one single silver bullet. (unlike what the "baby-boomers" thought)
(26-08-2011 10:58 PM)Stark Raving Wrote:  Cheap, sustainable electricity. We've got it. Solar. Even the batteries used to store solar energy are improving by leaps and bounds every day. Problem is (risking sounding like a conspiracy theorist here) research and developmeny is not supported by the corporations with the big bucks or government. Both for the same reason. It makes people able to produce their own electricity. And god forbid we should be independant, self sustaining and *gasp* not lining the pockets of those who need no lining.
Here in Belgium, you could get a certificate for every Kilo-watt you generate with solar panels on your roof. Now, some 3 years later, It turns out the only thing it has done is raise the energy price for those who didn't have the budget to place panels (Including those who didn't have a south oriented roof.) Basically, I am paying for my neighbors solar panel. Sad Looks like they have bet on the wrong horse. In the long run, this will mean that the people without solar panels will be the first to start economizing their electricity consumption.

The problems with the solar power and batteries exist out of the fact that they require the mining of rare earth minerals if you want to make them practical. For the moment we don't jump much further. The combination of wind, water and tides energy might be enough to sustain a country, but only for the basic needs of a household. Problems arise if you want to generate enough energy to power heavy industries and transportation.

For transportation, electrical cars perhaps? For short distances then. Again you run against the exotic minerals problem. Modern steam trains for the long distance? why not... wood powered...

Recently I thought up a concept of a hybrid wood/electrical car. (If you people are interested I'll post a schematic.)

About that conspiracy.
It DOES exist, but not in the form of a conspiracy. The gist of it is: As long as there is a cheap way of pumping up crude oil and there is cheap labor on one side and people willing and rich enough to buy it on the other. Company's WILL pump it up. The conspiracy is us westerners!

As you say James: It all starts with moderation on consumption.

Observer

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