The company develops a new method of carbon sequestration in soil without having to take soil samples.

The Berkeley Lab team searches for Carbon in the soil without getting their hands dirty

Soil photography with neutrons can provide a quick and accurate view of the amount and distribution of carbon (and other important elements) in the soil without disturbing the soil. or plant roots. Yes: Berkeley Lab

Physicists and soil scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have teamed up to develop a new way to detect carbon stored by plants and microbes. Unlike all previous methods, this new technology can detect carbon in the soil without having to dig holes or take soil samples, such as X -ray no ka lepo. This new method of measuring carbon emissions is an important tool in combating climate change and developing climate -friendly farming methods. ecosystem.

“The potential of this tool can be measured over time,” said Arun Persaud, a Berkeley Lab physician and one of the company’s leaders. “With our tools, you can get the most accurate and fast measurement of the amount of carbon in an acre of land, without disturbing the soil or harming the wildlife that lives there. . “

The plant transfers carbon into the soil as a natural part of its life cycle. Plants breathe carbon dioxide and breathe oxygen (which we breathe in). Carbon resides in the plant, used to build the molecules and cells necessary for life. Most of that carbon enters the soil at the root of the plant. Microbes in the soil take this carbon and turn it into organic matter that can last for centuries, or more.

Plants and soil microbes play an important role in the Earth’s carbon cycle – a cycle that is heavily altered by humans. Burning coal will heat the earth faster. The use of human land for agriculture has depleted the nutrients in the soil, resulting in a high amount of soil carbon which also helps to change the climate.

Extracting large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere is critical to all plans to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or less. This right is the driving force behind Berkeley Lab’s Carbon Negative Initiative, which aims to develop technologies that capture, filter, and use carbon dioxide. Plants and microbes are experts at extracting carbon from the atmosphere – they’ve been doing it for billions of years. But before we can use them to help conserve carbon in the air, we need to accurately measure how much carbon is trapped in the soil through the interaction of the elements. plant-microbial, or other regulatory processes. Unfortunately, the technologies available to test soil carbon detection are highly destructive, and can be harmful to large scales.

“We have a huge limit on understanding and calculating the carbon footprint and retention in the soil because of the way we measure it,” said Eoin Brodie, a Berkeley Lab scientist. “Normally, we take a soil sample from a stand on the site and return it to the lab. Then we burn it and measure the carbon that is released. We don’t know what that means. display of those cores. “

Search for Carbon in the soil without getting their hands dirty

Will Larsen and Arun Persaud in the neutron testing department of the Fusion Science and Ion Beam Technology Program in the Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics Division, setting up the alpha particle detector. The alpha detector can measure the distribution of carbon atoms in the soil. Yes: Berkeley Lab

Brodie is the Vice President of Berkeley Lab’s Climate and Ecosystem Science Division and one of the leaders of the EcoSENSE Program, a division of the Biological & Environmental Program Integration Center (BioEPIC) currently developing. EcoSENSE plans to create expert suites to look at the effects of climate and climate on ecosystems, and Brodie and his colleagues want to find a better way to measure carbon. in the soil. Extensive scientific knowledge is available at the Berkeley Lab, as well as an opportunity for applications for underground sensor technologies from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), led by Brodie, Persaud, and their colleagues to join this project. “What it really took was to talk about the different projects at Berkeley Lab,” Brodie said. “We saw this potential technology in the Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics (ATAP) Division, and we teamed up.” Finally, the cross-disciplinary team was awarded a study from ARPA-E’s Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) program, which enabled this work.

A new method of measuring developed by the Berkeley Lab eliminates the need to dig something out of the ground. But look at the so -called soil with a tree of neutrons. Then, when the observer sees the weak response of carbon and other elements of the soil to neutrons, allow him to record the distribution of the different elements in the soil up to the solution is five centimeters. All this is done on the ground, no pits, no cores, no fire. “It’s like giving the soil an MRI,” said Persaud, an associate scientist at ATAP. “We have a three -dimensional picture of the soil and the contribution of the carbon in it, along with other elements like iron, silicon, oxygen, and aluminum, is important to understand. carbon sequestration in the soil. “

“What excites me the most about this neutron imaging approach is that it allows us to accurately and accurately capture the carbon contributions in soils at scales that require a carbon count, “said Brodie. “And we can often work through the growing seasons, see how things change with trends and trends…”

“This new carbon detection project is an example of thinking outside the box and bringing together researchers from all walks of life – including physical science and earth science – to create new technologies that will addressing the challenges of climate change, ”said Cameron Geddes, ATAP director.

Now the project is coming out of the lab, and Persaud, Brodie, and their colleagues are testing it on real soils in an outdoor system. “We were very excited to test this on the ground at Berkeley Lab after the rainy season,” Persaud said.

“The next step is to make this process site much simpler, so that things like harvesters and tractors can be combined, so that this becomes part of the controls. What you see in farms and forests, ”Brodie said. “There’s really a lot and a lot to this.”

Burning the natural environment can help reduce our carbon footprint

More information:
Mauricio Ayllon Unzueta et al, A universal photographic imaging system for 3D determination of isotopic regions, Look at the scientific instruments (2021). DOI: 10.1063 / 5.0030499

Presented by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Directions: The company develops a new method of carbon sequestration in soil without digging and takes soil samples (2022, March 31) retrieved on March 31, 2022 from https: // phys. org/news/2022-03-team-method-carbon-soil- samples.html

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