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30 Fairmont Park Lane S
Lethbridge, AB
T1K 7H7
Phone: (403) 328-1804
Sunday, March 30, 2008
The Editor
The Lethbridge Herald
P.O. Box 670
Lethbridge, AB, T1J 3Z7 

Turning carbon dioxide emissions into an asset 

Dear Editor, 

I thank Professor Dibble for his explanation that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels versus biofuels would vary only a little. (“Lesson on the chemistry of combustion is in order”, March 28) 

However, his observation that new carbon dioxide atmospheric carbon dioxide from petroleum combustion can not be turned back into petroleum may not be very significant. There may be other uses for carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuels that could turn it into a benefit and keep, or take, it out of the atmosphere. 

Growing plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere regardless of the original source.  

Wayne Lindwall, who once worked at the Lethbridge Research Station, just received an Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada for his work to introduce reduced tillage to Canadian farmers. That practice actually sequesters some fossil and biofuel carbon in the soil. 

There is also considerable interest in a technique to convert plant material into charcoal and add it to the soil, simultaneously sequestering carbon and enriching the soil. That idea came from observations that rich soil found in the Amazon was made that way centuries ago. A review article on the concept was published in Alberta oil recently. It’s titled, “Soil from oil: Is biochar the magic bullet we've been hoping for?” It is available at; www.computare.org/publications.htm.  

Gary Lewis, from Pincher Creek has taken another approach to emissions from petroleum combustion. He is marketing a system which injects tractor exhaust including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides into the soil. More information can be found at www.bioagtive.com

Maybe, before we contemplate leaving fossil fuels in the ground, or pumping carbon dioxide from it’s combustion into underground reservoirs,  or subsidizing massive biofuel initiatives we should be exploring opportunities to turn fossil fuel emissions into assets. 

Yours truly,


Duane Pendergast


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