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    A project to evaluate barley’s potential in Canada’s rapidly evolving biofuels industry has received funding of $262,000 from the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI). Western Barley Growers Association [*.pdf] - May 27, 2007.

    PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC), the biofuel unit of Philippine National Oil Company, is planning to undertake an initial public offering next year or in 2009 so it can have its own cash and no longer rely on its parent for funding of biofuels projects. Manila Bulletin - May 27, 2007.

    TMO Renewables Limited, a producer of ethanol from biomass, has licensed the ERGO bioinformatics software developed and maintained by Integrated Genomics. TMO will utilize the genome analysis tools for gene annotation, metabolic reconstruction and enzyme data-mining as well as comparative genomics. The platform will enable the company to further understand and exploit its thermophilic strains used for the conversion of biomass into fuel. CheckBiotech - May 25, 2007.

    Melbourne-based Plantic Technologies Ltd., a company that makes biodegradable plastics from plants, said 20 million pounds (€29/US$39 million) it raised by selling shares on London's AIM will help pay for its first production line in Europe. Plantic Technologies [*.pdf] - May 25, 2007.

    Shell Hydrogen LLC and Virent Energy Systems have announced a five-year joint development agreement to develop further and commercialize Virent's BioForming technology platform for the production of hydrogen from biomass. Virent Energy Systems [*.pdf] - May 24, 2007.

    Spanish energy and engineering group Abengoa will spend more than €1 billion (US$1.35 billion) over the next three years to boost its bioethanol production, Chairman Javier Salgado said on Tuesday. The firm is studying building four new plants in Europe and another four in the United States. Reuters - May 23, 2007.

    According to The Nikkei, Toyota is about to introduce flex-fuel cars in Brazil, at a time when 8 out of 10 new cars sold in the country are already flex fuel. Brazilians prefer ethanol because it is about half the price of gasoline. Forbes - May 22, 2007.

    Virgin Trains is conducting biodiesel tests with one of its diesel engines and will be running a Voyager train on a 20 percent biodiesel blend in the summer. Virgin Trains Media Room - May 22, 2007.

    Australian mining and earthmoving contractor Piacentini & Son will use biodiesel from South Perth's Australian Renewable Fuels across its entire fleet, with plans to purchase up to 8 million litres from the company in the next 12 months. Tests with B20 began in October 2006 and Piacentinis reports very positive results for economy, power and maintenance. Western Australia Business News - May 22, 2007.

    Malaysia's Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui announces he will head a delegation to the EU in June, "to counter European anti-palm oil activists on their own home ground". The South East Asian palm oil industry is seen by many European civil society organisations and policy makers as unsustainable and responsible for heavy deforestation. Malaysia Star - May 20, 2007.

    Paraguay and Brazil kick off a top-level seminar on biofuels, cooperation on which they see as 'strategic' from an energy security perspective. 'Biocombustiveis Paraguai-Brasil: Integração, Produção e Oportunidade de Negócios' is a top-level meeting bringing together the leaders of both countries as well as energy and agricultural experts. The aim is to internationalise the biofuels industry and to use it as a tool to strengthen regional integration and South-South cooperation. PanoramaBrasil [*Portuguese] - May 19, 2007.

    Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS and Petrobras SA have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a biofuels joint venture. The joint venture will undertake technical and financial feasibility studies to set up a plant in Brazil to export biofuels to Portugal. Forbes - May 19, 2007.

    The Cypriot parliament has rejected an amendment by President Papadopoulos on the law regarding the use of biofuels that contain genetically modified substances. The amendment called for an alteration in the law that currently did not allow the import or use of biofuels that had been produced using GM substances, something that goes against a recent EU Directive on GMOs. Cyprus Mail - May 18, 2007.

    According to Salvador Rivas, the director for Non-Conventional Energy at the Dominican Republic's Industry and Commerce Ministry, a group of companies from Brazil wants to invest more than 100 million dollars to produce ethanol in the country, both for local consumption and export to the United States. Dominican Today - May 16, 2007.

    EWE AG, a German multi-service energy company, has started construction on a plant aimed at purifying biogas so that it can be fed into the natural gas grid. Before the end of the year, EWE AG will be selling the biogas to end users via its subsidiary EWE Naturwatt. Solarthemen [*German] - May 16, 2007.

    Scania will introduce an ethanol-fueled hybrid bus concept at the UITP public transport congress in Helsinki 21-24 May 2007. The full-size low-floor city bus is designed to cut fossil CO2 emissions by up to 90% when running on the ethanol blend and reduce fuel consumption by at least 25%. GreenCarCongress - May 16, 2007.

    A report by the NGO Christian Aid predicts there may be 1 billion climate refugees and migrants by 2050. It shows the effects of conflicts on populations in poor countries and draws parallels with the situation as it could develop because of climate change. Christian Aid - May 14, 2007.

    Dutch multinational oil group Rompetrol, also known as TRG, has entered the biofuel market in France in conjunction with its French subsidiary Dyneff. It hopes to equip approximately 30 filling stations to provide superethanol E85 distribution to French consumers by the end of 2007. Energy Business Review - May 13, 2007.

    A group of British organisations launches the National Forum on Bio-Methane as a Road Transport Fuel. Bio-methane or biogas is widely regarded as the cleanest of all transport fuels, even cleaner than hydrogen or electric vehicles. Several EU projects across the Union have shown its viability. The UK forum was lauched at the Naturally Gas conference on 1st May 2007 in Loughborough, which was hosted by Cenex in partnership with the NSCA and the Natural Gas Vehicle Association. NSCA - May 11, 2007.

    We reported earlier on Dynamotive and Tecna SA's initiative to build 6 bio-oil plants in the Argentinian province of Corrientes (here). Dynamotive has now officially confirmed this news. Dynamotive - May 11, 2007.

    Nigeria launches a national biofuels feasibility study that will look at the potential to link the agricultural sector to the automotive fuels sector. Tim Gbugu, project leader, said "if we are able to link agriculture, we will have large employment opportunity for the sustenance of this country, we have vast land that can be utilised". This Day Onlin (Lagos) - May 9, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets with the CEO of Portuguese energy company Galp Energia, which will sign a biofuel cooperation agreement with Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras. GP1 (*Portuguese) - May 9, 2007.

    The BBC has an interesting story on how biodiesel made from coconut oil is taking the pacific island of Bougainville by storm. Small refineries turn the oil into an affordable fuel that replaces costly imported petroleum products. BBC - May 8, 2007.

    Indian car manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra is set to launch its first B100-powered vehicles for commercial use by this year-end. The company is confident of fitting the new engines in all its existing models. Sify - May 8, 2007.

    The Biofuels Act of the Philippines has come into effect today. The law requires all oil firms in the country to blend 2% biodiesel (most often coconut-methyl ester) in their diesel products. AHN - May 7, 2007.

    Successful tests based on EU-criteria result in approval of 5 new maize hybrids that were developed as dedicated biogas crops [*German]. Veredlungsproduktion - May 6, 2007.

    With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development (WIRED), Michigan State University intends to open a training facility dedicated to students and workers who want to start a career in the State's growing bioeconomy. Michigan State University - May 4, 2007.

    Researchers from the Texas A&M University have presented a "giant" sorghum variety for the production of ethanol. The crop is drought-tolerant and yields high amounts of ethanol. Texas A & M - May 3, 2007.

    C-Tran, the public transportation system serving Southwest Washington and parts of Portland, has converted its 97-bus fleet and other diesel vehicles to run on a blend of 20% biodiesel beginning 1 May from its current fleet-wide use of B5. Automotive World - May 3, 2007.

    The Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) and France's largest research organisation, the CNRS, have signed a framework-agreement to cooperate on the development of new energy technologies, including research into biomass based fuels and products, as well as carbon capture and storage technologies. CNRS - April 30, 2007.

    One of India's largest state-owned bus companies, the Andra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation is to use biodiesel in one depot of each of the 23 districts of the state. The company operates some 22,000 buses that use 330 million liters of diesel per year. Times of India - April 30, 2007.

    Indian sugar producers face surpluses after a bumper harvest and low prices. Diverting excess sugar into the ethanol industry now becomes more attractive. India is the world's second largest sugar producer. NDTVProfit - April 30, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet on Thursday signed a biofuel cooperation agreement designed to share Brazil's experience in ethanol production and help Chile develop biofuels and fuel which Lula seeks to promote in other countries. More info to follow. People's Daily Online - April 27, 2007.

    Italy's Benetton plans to build a €61 million wood processing and biomass pellet production factory Nagyatád (southwest Hungary). The plant will be powered by biogas. Budapest Sun - April 27, 2007.

    Cargill is to build an ethanol plant in the Magdeburger Börde, located on the river Elbe, Germany. The facility, which will be integrated into existing starch processing plant, will have an annual capacity of 100,000 cubic meters and use grain as its feedstock. FIF - April 26, 2007.

    Wärtsilä Corporation was awarded a contract by the Belgian independent power producer Renogen S.A. to supply a second biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plant in the municipality of Amel in the Ardennes, Belgium. The new plant will have a net electrical power output of 3.29 MWe, and a thermal output of up to 10 MWth for district heating. The electrical output in condensing operation is 5.3 MWe. Kauppalehti - April 25, 2007.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

MIT scientists look at saline aquifers for CO2 storage

The list of potential carbon dioxide storage options is growing. Earlier, researchers found that storing the gas in a solid form as a gas hydrate, or as a pool of liquid CO2 below a cap of hydrate cemented sediments, might offer an alternative method of geological sequestration to the current practices of storage in warm, deep sediments in the North Sea (earlier post).

A new analysis led by an MIT scientist now describes another such 'carbon capture and storage' (CCS) mechanism: by injecting CO2 into saline aquifers it would be trapped naturally as tiny bubbles and safely stored in briny porous rock.

Research into CCS technologies is important, because the technique could be applied to so-called 'Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage', a radically carbon negative energy system that can take us back to pre-industrial CO2 levels in a matter of decades (earlier post).

The MIT research implies that it may be possible for a (biomass) power plant to be built in an appropriate location and have all its carbon dioxide emissions captured and injected underground throughout the life of the power plant, and then safely stored over centuries and even millennia. The carbon dioxide eventually will dissolve in the brine and a fraction will adhere to the rock in the form of minerals such as iron and magnesium carbonates:
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Carbon dioxide is one of the primary greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. Studies have shown that reducing carbon dioxide emissions or capturing and storing the emissions underground in a process called sequestration is vital to the health of our planet. But one of the biggest risks of any sequestration project is the potential leak of the injected gas back into the atmosphere through abandoned wells or underground cracks.

In a paper published in a recent issue of Water Resources Research, MIT Professor Ruben Juanes and co-authors assert that injected carbon dioxide will likely not flow back up to the surface and into the atmosphere, as many researchers fear.

"We have shown that this is a much safer way of disposing of CO2 than previously believed, because a large portion--maybe all--of the CO2 will be trapped in small blobs in the briny aquifer," said Juanes, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. "Based on experiments and on the physics of flow and transport, we know that the flow of the CO2 is subject to a safety mechanism that will prevent it from rising up to the top just beneath the geologic cap."

Researchers have considered the possibility of sequestering CO2 beneath the Earth's surface in at least three types of geologic formations: depleted oil and gas fields, unminable coal seams and deep saline aquifers. Juanes' research dealt with the third category--porous rock formations bearing brackish water that are ubiquitous underground.

The study shows that carbon dioxide could be compressed as it leaves the power plant and injected through a well deep underground into a natural sublayer consisting of porous rock, such as sandstone or limestone, saturated with saltwater. Because of its buoyancy, the injected gas will form a plume and begin to rise through the permeable rock. Once the injection stops, the plume will continue to rise, but saltwater will close around the back of the gas plume. The saltwater and CO2 will juggle for position while flowing through the tiny pores in the rock. Because the rock's surface attracts water, the water will cling to the inner surface of the pores. These wet layers will swell, causing the pores to narrow and constrict the flow of carbon dioxide until the once-continuous plume of gas breaks into small bubbles or blobs, which will remain trapped in the pore space.

"As it rises, the CO2 plume leaves a trail of immobile, disconnected blobs, which will remain trapped in the pore space of the rock, until they slowly dissolve and, on an even larger timescale, react with rock minerals," said Juanes. "It is a good example of how a process that occurs at the microscopic scale affects the overall pattern of the flow at the geologic scale."

Other co-authors are Martin Blunt of Imperial College London and Franklin Orr Jr. of Stanford University. The work was funded by industrial affiliates of the Petroleum Research Institute at Stanford.7

The paper also describes how the mechanism of capillary trapping can be exploited (e.g., by controlling the injection rate or alternating water and CO2 injection) to improve the overall effectiveness of the injection project.

The work was funded by industrial affiliates of the Petroleum Research Institute at Stanford.

Image: Carbon dioxide could be injected underground into the briny porous rock below. Most of the CO2 gas would be immobilized (light blue), trapped as small bubbles (white) in the pore space of the rock (gray). Only a small portion of the CO2 (dark blue) will continue to flow up towards the impermeable layer of caprock (yellow). Courtesy of MIT.

More information:

MIT: Storing carbon dioxide below ground may prevent polluting above - Feb. 7, 2007.
R. Juanes, E. J. Spiteri, F. M. Orr Jr., M. J. Blunt, "Impact of relative permeability hysteresis on geological CO2 storage" [abstract],- Water Resources Research, Vol. 42, 2006.

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China to develop energy forests the size of England

China is moving rapidly on the front of bioenergy, with important targets for green energy included in the People's Republic's new Five-Year-Plan (earlier post). The Chinese government also sees investments in the sector as a way to boost the rural economy and to ease the growing social inequalities between wealthy urbanites and poor farmers (earlier post). Small farmers are already beginning to reap some of the benefits of China's transition to biofuels (earlier post).

Thanks to a path-breaking effort to develop fuels and energy from woody and oil bearing crops, the country has announced it will now plant biomass and biofuel forests on a very large scale to fuel its future. By 2010, China plans to develop an area the size of England, or 13 million hectares, with Jatropha curcas trees from which both liquid and solid biofuels can be extracted as a source of clean energy, according to the State Forestry Administration (SFA).

Jatropha, also known as the physic nut, is currently grown on around 2 million hectares across the country and produces non-edible oil for making candles and soap. Now, it will be the main ingredient in the production of biodiesel. The 13-million-hectare forest mostly spread over southern China is expected to produce nearly 6 million tons of biodiesel every year. Vehicles account for a third of all oil use in the country.

Green electricity
The jatropha trees can also provide wood fuel for a power plant with an installed capacity of 12 million kilowatts about two-thirds the capacity of the Three Gorges Dam project, the world's biggest. This amount of bio-energy will account for 30 percent of the country's renewable energy by 2010, according to the SFA.
"This plan will not only help the country enlarge its green coverage (currently at about 130 million hectares) but also meet increasing demand for energy. And most importantly, it provides clean energy to meet the country's target of sustainable development." -- Cao Qingyao, spokesman for China's State Forestry Administration.
Currently, the country relies mainly on fossil fuels for energy production. To ease the pressure and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, a renewable energy target has been set: By 2010, it will make up 10 percent of the energy structure; and 16 percent by 2020:
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China National Petroleum Corporation, one of the country's three energy giants, has started collaboration with the SFA to develop biofuel (earlier post).

Jiang Jiemin, head of the corporation, said last month that the group would, by 2010, build a commercial production base with an annual capacity of 200,000 tons of biodiesel by planting more than 400,000 hectares of trees.

China's targets on how much biofuels the country will produce, remain somewhat unclear. Spokespersons for different ministerial departments often contradict each other. The latest figure was given by Shi Yanquan, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture's department of science, technology and education, and it stands at replacing 10 million tons of oil by 2020 (earlier post).

Earlier, officials announced that China could save 100 million tons of coal by utilizing solid biomass waste streams from agriculture (earlier post).

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EU to import duty-free sugar for biofuels, drugs, chemicals

Quicknote bioenergy policies
European Union member states approved a plan to import 200,000 metric tons of sugar without tariffs, destined for producers of drugs, chemicals and biofuels.

Approval came yesterday from the Union's sugar management committee, which oversees the internal sugar market and subsidies for production within the world's largest economy. The decision still needs the approval of the European Commission, the executive arm. „The quota shall only be used for the manufacturing of industrial products - chemicals, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, bio-ethanol,” the EU said yesterday.

The EU has sought to reduce sugar production since a 2005 World Trade Organization ruling that curbed the bloc's subsidized exports of the sweetener. Yesterday's decision will combine with a cut in the amount of subsidized sugar EU farmers and processors can produce, increasing their exposure to the world market and bolstering the EU's free-trade credentials (earlier post).

Biofuels are derived from crops including sugar, and the sweetener is also used in the production of pharmaceuticals and chemicals such as enzymes. Under WTO rules, the EU can export 1.37 million tons of subsidized sugar a year, with a value capped at €513.9 million ($669.7 million) [entry ends here].
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Brazil to invest $5 billion into the 'bioeconomy'

Brazil is rapidly becoming one of the most creative countries, forging a new kind of paradigm on how modern societies can become sustainable and what their role can be in a resource-constrained world. Famed for its environmentally friendly, compact urbanism (with the city of Curitiba being labelled "the world's most liveable metropole"), its finetuned social policies aimed at creating a just and equitable society that overcomes the inequalities of the past, its efforts at uniting the Global South to form an alliance that offers a counterweight to unfair trade regimes, and its innovative energy landscape, with bioenergy and biofuels making the country virtually energy independent.

Brazil is committed to sustain this vision and has announced plans to invest 10 billion reais (€3.7/US$4.7 billion) into a green and sustainable post-petroleum 'bioeconomy' over the next decade to fuel growth in bioenergy, agriculture, biodiversity based 'rainforest' pharmaceuticals and renewable bioproducts.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a decree today creating the program to invest 1 billion reais annually for 10 years. The government will contribute 60 percent of the investment, including funds from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), while the private sector will provide the rest, Development Minister Luiz Furlan said.

Furlan said cash will be used to fund research and development of new strains of sugarcane that are resistant to droughts, new bioprocessing technologies to create biofuels from biomass, vaccines and pharmaceuticals from rainforest resources, and biodegradable plastics, polymers, fibers and plant-based green chemicals.

By stepping up biotechnology funding, Brazil, the world's biggest grower of sugarcane, oranges and coffee and home to 20 percent of the planet's living species, aims to meet rising demand for its crops and reduce its dependence on foreign pharmaceutical makers such as Pfizer Inc or petrochemical companies such as Dow Chemicals Inc.

"Brazil has strengths that put us in a position to stand out in these new technologies. This policy will help Brazil realize this potential," said Lula during a ceremony today at the presidential palace in Brasilia.

Biotechnology has already fueled growth among Brazil's ethanol makers. Developments of more-productive cane strains over the past three decades have helped the South American country make the biofuel at a lower cost than gasoline (earlier post). Ethanol cost Brazilian distributors about 37 percent less on average than gasoline last week, the National Petroleum Agency said. The trend towards higher efficiency and lower costs is set to continue, with analysts projecting a doubling of ethanol productivity within 15 years (earlier post).

Cheaper biofuels
In the U.S., where ethanol is made from corn, the biofuel has cost an average of 99 cents per gallon more than gasoline for the past nine years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Unlike Brazilian ethanol, the production of corn ethanol is also highly inefficient (earlier post and here).

By developing new cane varieties, Brazil could expand crops into areas that don't receive as much rain as the center-south region of the country, where 85 percent of Brazil's sugar and ethanol are produced. The government will research new species that can better withstand droughts that are frequent in the northeast, where cane productivity is 30 percent lower than in the center-south, the Agriculture Ministry said:
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The government may fall short of its investment goals in coming years because spending controls and bureaucracy in the Latin American country slow the allocation of earmarked funds, said Anderson Galvao, director at Celeres, a Uberlandia, Brazil- based crop forecaster and researcher.

"Brazil needs to speed up the process of actually sending funds that have been approved for research," Galvao said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg from Cuiaba, Brazil. "Often, approved funds never reach the researchers."

Approval Delays
Delays to get innovations approved by the biotech regulator may also thwart Brazil's efforts, Galvao said. The lower house has passed a bill that aims to speed up the process by allowing approvals through a simple majority at the regulator's board instead of the current two-third majority. Senators haven't voted on the bill yet.

Brazil is home to a 10th of the world's genetically modified crops. Planting in Brazil of biotech crops, including herbicide-tolerant soybeans, jumped 22 percent last year to 11.5 million hectares, the non-profit International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, or ISAAA, said last month.

Brazil, where about 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, is also seeking to boost domestic production of generic drugs that cost less than medicines made by major pharmaceutical makers such as Pfizer, the world's largest.

Copy-Cat Drugs
Pfizer is among drug companies losing revenue to copy-cat versions of its medicines worldwide. The New York-based company last month said it would eliminate 10 percent of its workforce because of competition from cheaper generic drugs.

Lula also created a group to help the 1,700 existing biotech research organizations communicate more easily, Trade Minister Luiz Fernando Furlan said.

"Brazil has the full potential to attract all the resources needed in this area," Furlan said at a news conference in Brasilia yesterday. "What we lack is the connection of good projects with the funds."

More information:
Reuters: Brazil to invest $5 billion in biotech research - Feb. 8, 2007.
Bloomberg: Brazil to Invest 10 Billion Reais in Biotechnology - Feb. 8, 2007.
CheckBiotech: Brazil to invest $5 billion in biotech research - Feb. 8, 2007.

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Sir Richard Branson launches US$25 million climate prize

Millions of dollars are on offer for the scientist who comes up with the best way of removing significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson launched the competition today alongside former US vice-president Al Gore.

A panel of judges will oversee the prize, including environmentalist James Lovelock and Nasa scientist James Hansen. Sir Richard said humankind must realise the scale of the crisis it faced.
"The Earth cannot wait 60 years. Unless we can devise a way of removing CO2 from the earth's atmosphere we will lose half of all species on earth, all the coral reefs, 100 million people will be displaced, farmlands will become deserts and rain forests wastelands. [...] We need everybody capable of discovering an answer to put their minds to it today. [...] I want a future for my children and my children's children. The clock is ticking." --Sir Richard Branson.
Branson said if the planet was to survive, it was vital to find a way of getting rid of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. He said he believed offering the US$25/€19.2 million "Earth Challenge Prize" was the best way of finding a solution.

Top scientists predict that global average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to human activities like burning fossil fuels, putting millions at risk from rising sea levels, floods, famines and storms.

Overseeing the innovations triggered by the Prize are James Hansen, a noted climate scientist and head of the Nasa Institute for Space Studies; the inventor of "Gaia theory" James Lovelock; UK environmentalist Sir Crispin Tickell; and Australian mammologist and palaeontologist Tim Flannery. They are looking for a method that will remove at least one billion tonnes of carbon per year from the atmosphere.

'Moral challenge'
Al Gore, the former presidential candidate turned environmental campaigner, joined the Virgin boss. He said: "Up until now, what has not been asked seriously on a systematic basis is, is there some way that some of that extra carbon dioxide may be scavenged effectively out of the atmosphere? And no one knows the answer to that." Gore added that it is a challenge to the moral imagination of humankind to actually accept the reality of the situation we are now facing:
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"We're not used to thinking of a planetary emergency, and there's nothing in our prior history as a species that equips us to imagine that we, as human beings, could actually be in the process of destroying the habitability of the planet for ourselves."

His recent film, An Inconvenient Truth, focused on global warming. Carbon capture and storage is already a key area of research.

Carbon sequestration
Scientists have been looking into removing the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and storing it in oil and gas fields, injecting it deep into the ocean, or chemically transforming it into solids or liquids that are thermodynamically stable.

However, these methods have raised concerns, notably because of the possibility of leakage from the storage sites and fears that C02 dissolved in large quantities in the ocean might harm marine ecosystems.

Other scientists are also looking at schemes that might "scrub" the air of CO2, collecting the gas for safe storage; but many critics say the energy required to achieve this would make such an approach self-defeating.

Sir Richard Branson has already pledged to invest US$3/€2.3 billion in profits from his travel firms, such as airline Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains, towards research into renewable energy technologies.

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