How to get rid of dead wood flooring
In an attempt to rid the planet of unwanted floor mats and flooring products, a team of scientists from The University of Queensland in Brisbane have been investigating whether wood floor mats have a role to play in the planet’s carbon footprint.
The team of researchers, led by Associate Professor John Burchfield, is currently investigating the potential of wood floor mat production and whether it is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions and improve soil health.
“We found that floor mats produced in the laboratory, which are then stored in the environment, were about half as efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide as natural wood,” Associate Professor Burchland said.
“This is because wood floor material absorbs CO2 by converting it to CO2-neutral carbon dioxide, a process called biochar.”
Biochar is a process that occurs when trees decompose their wood and release carbon dioxide and other organic material.
“The carbon is then recycled and the soil is left with more carbon.”
Professor Burchfld said the study showed that wood floor materials could be used as a way to absorb carbon.
“In fact, the researchers have found that the amount of biochar in floor mats can be increased by a factor of two by increasing the size of the wood matrix,” he said.
The researchers also found that wood matrix floor mats were more effective than natural wood floor in absorbing CO2.
“It seems that wood is the ideal floor material for the production of bio-char, and biochar can be produced in wood floor, whereas natural wood has to be used for the bio-colonisation process,” Associate Prof Burchwell said.
Mr Burchfields lab has also been studying the potential benefits of biofilm-like wood floor to support soil and water quality in an effort to improve the soil’s ability to hold carbon.
In the study, the team of students, academics and engineers from the Queensland University of Technology in Townsville, conducted soil sampling of a sample of 1,000 natural floor mats from Queensland’s state-owned Queensland Resources and Infrastructure Commission (QRIC).
“We did a soil sampling for the first time,” Associate professor Burchbury said.”[We] found that biochar-rich floor mats had the greatest impact on soil organic carbon.”
The researchers then conducted a comparison of the soil samples with the soil from the same area where they had harvested the mats.
“If you put a natural floor mat in the same spot, it has a lower organic carbon content,” Associate faculty member Andrew Jones said.
“Biochar-based floor mats do not necessarily have the same effect.”
Associate Professor Jones said biochar mats could be added to existing soil in order to increase soil organic content.
“There is potential to improve soil quality through biochar, but it needs to be applied appropriately and at a cost,” he added.
Professor Bournes work is the first to investigate the environmental impact of biochars, which is a type of organic carbon that occurs naturally in soil.
“While biochar may appear to be a good source of carbon dioxide sequestration, its role in soil carbon uptake and biochar production is poorly understood,” Associate professors Burch, Jones and Burch said.
In addition to increasing the soil organic material in the soil, biochar is known to help to prevent erosion and improve water quality, among other things.
“When biochar mat is added to the soil surface, it can also be added as a substrate, which in turn reduces erosion,” Associate research fellow James Parnell said.
However, biocharms are only effective if the biochar has been incorporated into the soil and the biocharp is applied over a long period of time.
“For most of the biocharding processes, biocharders apply the bio chars to the surface of the mat as a means to increase the rate of decomposition, and thus to improve decomposition rates,” Associate Associate professor Jones said