A graphic to help map the Carbon Dioxide Removal (“CDR”) field

For the carbon dioxide removal (“CDR”) field, breadth is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, the numerous approaches to CDR suggest the potential for deploying a diverse portfolio of CDR projects that reduces both the risks and costs of preventing climate change. But the down side of breadth is complexity, which makes the CDR field difficult to explain and envision, and can lead to confusion about how to catalyze development of CDR approaches as a result.

In the graphic below, I’ve attempted to categorize and map the most prominent aspects of CDR in as comprehensive and clear a manner as possible:

CDR pathways

It is critical to note that not all of the elements of this graphic are exclusive to CDR. For example, direct air capture (“DAC”) machines can be used to create hydrocarbon fuels (instead of for carbon sequestration purposes). In a similar manner, biochar can be burned to create electricity instead of applied to soils as a carbon sink. Even more broadly, compressed CO2 can come from many places, including from fossil-fueled power plants with carbon capture and sequestration (“CCS”) systems. Unpacking how each of the elements for various CDR processes fit into wider industrial systems is critical for designing effective strategies for developing various CDR approaches — hopefully this visualization of the field can help with that process

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6 thoughts on “A graphic to help map the Carbon Dioxide Removal (“CDR”) field

  1. Noah –

    I like it a lot. But it would be even more useful if ocean based CDR (via ocean fertilization) were also included on the left-hand side. Would that be possible? I would like to discuss further by email.

  2. Noah,

    The statement that “…biochar can be burned to create electricity instead of applied to soils as a carbon sink.” is questionable as biochar ‘fuel’ is charcoal. Only that which is buried is ‘biochar’.
    Yet, I believe Ron Larson (IBI) can best express this point.

    Also, your mission objective of “map the most prominent aspects of CDR” would seem to open up the effort to listing the many important ‘prominent aspect’ of the biotic approach such as the production of food, feed, fuel, fertilizer, polymers and fresh water (etc.). In short, the biotic can pay for itself while the non-biotic can not.

    This is a profoundly important aspect which many authors in this field ignore. We must ask ourselves if we wish climate change mitigation to be at the whims of the political purse sting or financially independent and based solely on the science…not the thin ice of political popularity.

    Best,

    Michael

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