You know what I miss about America? Dreams. The sense that we can accomplish great things. That we can turn a dream into reality. That we can use technology to better the human condition, or at least clean up the mess from the incorrect use of technology.
The worst indictment of the neoliberal cult of austerity is that it offers no dreams, just drudgery. No hope, just pain. No heroes, just victims.
Because I suspect you might be as sick as me of the waterfall of GOP sewage that the media has been hosing us down with for months - Because I suspect that, like me, you need some inspiration to stay anywhere near the Lord of the Flies island that is American politics, I offer you a realizable dream below the dreamlike orange decoration.
Part 1 - Collect CO2
I got half my dream handed to me on an orange platter by Keith Pickering: Cheap plastic-sand composite absorbs CO2 like crazy
That DKos diary points to new research, which its title accurately describes. The material is nothing but polyethylenimine and fused sand. Dirt cheap. It adsorbs (that's ad-sorbs with a "d") 10% of its weight in CO2, then releases it if you heat the material to a mere 85 C - lower than the temperature of industrial waste heat. The magic here is in the fused silica substrate.
the PEI coating did not significantly degrade in the presence of oxygen at 85 °C. However, studies with numerous adsorption/desorption cycles are needed to assess the long-term stability of PEI under these conditions. The low regeneration temperature allows the use of low value “waste heat” readily available in many industrial
processes. Heat from the sun could also be used, making a practical application of these adsorbents more promising.
- Carbon Dioxide Capture from the Air Using a Polyamine Based Regenerable Solid Adsorbent, JACS 133, 20164-7 (2011)
Mr. Pickering correctly recognizes the ability of PEI to address the issue of excess carbon dioxide capture. But, what do you do with the CO2 after you've captured it?
Part 2 - Turn CO2 into fuel
Why, you feed it to the second part of my dream: an CORRECTION: CYANOBACTERIA-based solar energy system that excretes diesel fuel. Such a system has been created by Joule Unlimited, and is currently undergoing scale-up in Texas and New Mexico.
Joule Unlimited, Inc. today announced the signing of a lease agreement providing access to 1,200 acres in Lea County, New Mexico, with the potential to scale the project up to 5,000 acres for production of renewable diesel and ethanol directly from sunlight and waste CO2.
This company is not some obscure scam job. It has been given innovation awards by TPTB; to wit, the Wall St. Journal and the World Economic Forum. Not that I like either bunch of financial pirates, but they are taking Joule seriously.
One of the issues with Joule's technology has been its need for large amounts of waste CO2. They plan to co-locate with coal-fired power plants. But, the PEI technology can provide the CO2 from anywhere!
The overall result of combining these two cutting edge technologies is that it becomes possible to burn fossil fuels and sequester (or recover from the atmosphere) the CO2. The CO2 is then used to re-generate fossil fuel from sunlight. The fuel and the CO2 become nothing more than intermediate steps in the conversion of sunlight to energy. In other words, we have a closed-cycle CO2 system. Not quite as closed cycle as the freon in your refrigerator, but we could get there.
Now that's a dream! It needs no nuclear reactors. It needs no fracking. It produces fuel from sunlight without adding to greenhouse gases.
Part 3 - Respecting the scientists who create value (instead of extracting wealth)
And, while we are dreaming, I would like to dream of a world where the scientists who created these planet-saving technologies were bigger rock stars than the sociopathic ghouls that are paraded before us as "leaders", Wall St. tycoons, etc.
For example, the scientist behind Joule Unlimited is George Church. Go read his Wikipedia biography. It makes Steve Jobs look stupid. The man has advised 22 companies, several of which he founded. He was a pioneer in genetic engineering. He has supervised hundreds of Ph.D. students at (horrors) Harvard Medical School.
If our media still believed in the American Dream they would devote more time to people like George Church than to adulterers, grifters, theocrats, and neoliberal sadists. But it doesn't believe and it doesn't notice.
It is left to the mere blogosphere to inform America that cool stuff is still happening in America - cool stuff that could save us from the brain-dead vampires of the oil/nuclear industry. A mere pittance has been spent to develop these technogies, while we waste trillions fighting over oil that is poisoning the planet, while we destroy our country's environment in the name of fracking.
The America of the corporate media, of TPTB, is an obscene, bloated zombie hunting for its next fix of imperial plunder. There is still a real America, but you can't see it for all the bullshit.
So, on this meaningless "election" night, I invite you to join me in the dream of a future where the environment is saved from the death grip of Big Oil and Big Nuke. Where millions of jobs are created building and servicing the PEI and CORRECTION: CYANOBACTERIA systems. Dream. Dream and recover America.