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View Diary: The Always-On Solar Energy Collector (96 comments)

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  •  Marine flora are much more adapted (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blackjackal, jamess

    to "snack on" hydrocarbons than ammonia.  Hydrocarbon seeps are a normal part of oceanic ecosystems (generally just not in the extreme quantities that happen from oil spills).  Ammonia is not.  Around hydrocarbon seeps, hydrocarbons can reach concentrations of several percent, and can be in ppm quantities for great distances around.  Ammonia is found in sub-ppb quantities in the world's oceans.  Ammonia is also more toxic than almost all basic hydrocarbons, on par or even worse than compounds like benzene.

    That said, ammonia is highly soluble in water and evaporates readily, better than all but the most volatile hydrocarbons.  It also breaks down rather quickly.  in general, mass per mass, I'd expect an ammonia spill to have higher short-term toxicity but lower long-term toxicity.  And indeed, you can't get a "deepwater horizon" style situation with a working fluid in a power plant.

    Of course, oil comparisons are a bit off the mark because electricity production and oil production are not exchangeable and won't be any time soon.

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