The accepted theory at the moment is that increased levels of carbon dioxide are causing global warming. There are, however, researchers who believe that the facts point to temperature increases as the cause for increased levels of carbon dioxide.
Regardless of belief, CO2 is a resource. It is a “fertilizer” that causes plants to grow through the photosynthesis process. Plants take in carbon dioxide and water during sunlight hours, releasing oxygen as a waste product.
The planet was lush with plant life when CO2 levels were high. Plants are great at adapting. What would happen if we increased the level of CO2 in today’s plants?
Beacon Tech Net, LLC, located in Murrells Inlet, SC, is a bold entrepreneurial company focusing on renewable energy. The Company is in its second year of a research grant received from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture through the support of the South Carolina Renewable Energy Infrastructure Fund, to determine how much increase in dry mass will occur with various levels of CO2.
In 2008, a 40% increase in dry mass of the CX-1 sweet potato occurred with 3,000 parts per million verses ambient air of approximately 380 parts per million. Dr. Janice Ryan-Bohac on a farm in Smoaks, SC, is breeding the CX-1 sweet potato specifically for the production of ethanol.
Currently there are no ethanol plants in the U.S. using sweet potatoes for feedstock.
In 2009, Vaisala GMM222 Carbon Dioxide Sensors were installed to monitor CO2 levels at the project. George Fryer, CEO and president of Beacon Tech Net, noted that his staff is able to use the carbon dioxide monitoring system to transmit this data to their company office in Murrells Inlet, SC even though the project is located 150 miles away in Smoaks, SC.
This was achieved using NexSens data loggers located in a nearby building that connect to the carbon dioxide monitoring sensors. The data loggers transmit sensor readings via RS-232 cable to a nearby computer running NexSens iChart Software. iChart automatically posts the CO2 levels in real-time to a NexSens WQData web datacenter.
The project has been expanded in 2009 to include an “open field” section. The purpose of the “open field” concept in comparison with the “greenhouse” approach is to fund a lower-cost alternative to simulate the conditions that would occur if CO2 were pulled from the emissions of a fossil-fuel-burning power plant and pumped into fields of sweet potatoes.