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The practice described in the title of this diary will, I predict, never happen, although, as I will describe below relying on a paper published in the scientific journal Industrial and Chemical Engineering Research - there are many other such papers including those of the great and highly principled Chemistry Nobel Laureate George Olah, who being a scientist rather than a movie (or rock) star was essentially ignored by the public - it may be technically feasible to do this or to have done it.    

But it will not happen.   The fight against climate change and its attendant disaster, as the events in the American grain belt (and in the last few years in other grain belts around the world) demonstrate so dramatically, is over, so much over that even our even insipid media is beginning to get it.  

In 2012, human beings will burn more dangerous oil, more dangerous coal and more dangerous natural gas than ever before.   The waste from this burning will be dumped directly into the planetary atmosphere where it will serve to help kill 3.3 million people per year - half under the age of five - through direct health effects, and many, many, many more ultimately from climate effects, probably including, in short order, famine not to mention, just plain heat.

They should have died hereafter.   There would have been time for such a word.
When I go outside these days - something I try not to do since it's so damn hot out there - I cannot help seeing the dead and dying trees.    Some years back, after a hiatus during a period of mutual distain between the management of this site and myself, I returned here to write a diary about the death of trees from heat and drought in the area where I live, New Jersey, citing a paper from the journal Tree Physiology.   Nitrogen, Climate Change, Drought, and Tree Physiology.  I wrote:
We're having a terrible drought - coupled with outbreaks of extreme temperatures - here in Western New Jersey, and it seems to be killing some very old and very beautiful trees.   It's very sad.
The dying is still going on.   I said then that I would spend more time reading that journal, Tree Physiology, but I really haven't, although I downloaded a bunch of papers a week or so ago.    But I didn't read them.   If I did, I would most likely break down weeping.   There's - how ironic is this - a bumper sticker one sees at times that reads "Trees are the answer."   No they're not.   They're going to end up dead, burned or rotted.   They are no answer.   They're just another set of victims.

The paper from the primary scientific literature I will discuss in this diary comes from a recent issue of the journal listed above (Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2012, 51, 8631−8645).   It is entitled "Analysis of Equilibrium-Based TSA Processes for Direct Capture of CO2 from Air."

It's about what might have been, not what is, not what will be.

Excerpts below:

"TSA" stands for "Temperature Swing Absorption" and is related to practice of "Pressure Swing Absorption."   Both processes can be used to separate components from air and from other mixtures of gases.   Both require energy, which is being consumed in ever greater amounts already, and as stated above, with more coming from dangerous fossil fuels than ever before.

The article begins with a mistake that derives from using an old citation, but the real mistake is not the outdated fact stated in the paper, but that too large a portion of humanity would rather read about the fate of the football program at Penn State than the fate of the planetary atmosphere.

Football.   The planetary atmosphere is a political and moral football.

Here's the introduction from the paper, containing the mistake:

The growing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and their possible detrimental effect on the global climate have made carbon management technologies one of the most widely researched areas of recent times. The current CO2 level in the atmosphere is 379 ppm.1 One benchmark technology for reducing CO2emissions is using aqueous solutions of amines to capture CO2from post combustion flue gas. Other strategies available for capture of CO2 from flue gas using absorption and adsorption have recently been reviewed.2 Point sources like large coal-fired power plants typically account only for about one-third of the anthropogenic CO2 released to the atmosphere.3 Much of the remaining two-thirds is due to transportation, small power plants, and chemical industries. Under the plausible assumption that fossil fuels are going to continue to be the predominant source of global energy in the near future, no commercial carbon capture technology currently exists that can be used to offset CO2emissions from this two-thirds of total emissions. If deep reductions in global CO2 emissions are to be achieved, a broad range of technology and policy options need to be explored.
The error, of course, is the figure "379 ppm."

Reference 1 cited, is the IPCC report from 2007.   Don't blink.  You'll get it wrong.    The actual figure for "current level" - this at the top of a high mountain, where the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution actually dilutes heavy gases like carbon dioxide is found at the website of the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Observatory.   The "current" figure, as of this writing is 395.77 ppm.

Small mistake.   Don't worry.   Be happy.


More from the paper:

Direct capture of CO2 from air, which we will refer to below as air capture, is one technology that has the potential for capturing CO2 emissions from all possible sources. Air capture aims to make use of the concepts and technologies developed for CO2capture from flue gas capture and apply them to capture CO2from ultradilute concentrations in air. The concentration of CO2is ∼250 times less in air than in flue gas. The theoretical minimum energy required for air capture, however, is only 3.4times that for flue gas capture.4 There has been far less work performed on air capture than on flue gas capture, but the Direct capture of CO2 from air, which we will refer to below as air capture, is one technology that has the potential for capturing CO2 emissions from all possible sources. Air capture aims to make use of the concepts and technologies developed for CO2capture from flue gas capture and apply them to capture CO2from ultradilute concentrations in air. The concentration of CO2is ∼250 times less in air than in flue gas. The theoretical minimum energy required for air capture, however, is only 3.4times that for flue gas capture.4 There has been far less work performed on air capture than on flue gas capture, but the economic and technical feasibility of air capture has been intensely debated.5−7 Jones has recently reviewed the development to date of air capture technologies.3
Reference 3, by "Jones" is
Jones, C. W. CO2 Capture from Dilute Gases as a Component ofModern Global Carbon Management. Annu. Rev. Chem. Biomol. Eng.2011, 2 (1), 31−52.
I haven't picked that paper up.   I should.  It should be good for a laugh.

The paper discusses some early computations about the cost of capturing carbon dioxide from air, including metal hydroxides precipitated by calcium and calcining the resultant calcium carbonate to regenerate lime.

It was reputed to cost $600/ton to recover carbon dioxide.

A recent report on the feasibility of air capture by the AmericanPhysical Society (APS) focused exclusively on this sodiumhydroxide based process, and estimated the cost of using thistechnology to be close to $600/t CO2.7
According to the EPA, for reference, a gallon (3.79 liters) of gasoline releases about 8.93 kg of the dangerous fossil fuel waste CO2.   The same link herein suggests that the average American dumps, from his car, 5.1 metric tons of said waste from his or her car each year.   This means that the metal oxide approach would require an investment of each average American of $3,000 bucks a year, roughly, just for his or her (or its) car, never mind all the coal that is burned for things like running the computers of anti-nukes so they can remind us that everyone in Japan died from Fukushima and that everyone in San Diego died from eating radioactive tuna fish created by Fukushima.


The authors of the paper hope some cheaper means can be found than metal oxides - and I'll be up front here and state that I am rather fond of metal oxide mediated carbon capture for reasons about which you couldn't care less - and they discuss a variety of silica based absorbents, if I recall correctly the too much ignoredold genius George Olah has also discussed this class.

They're probably pretty damn good.

For the thermodynamic and economic calculations in the paper, the authors refer to a particular silica based absorbent, TRIPE-MCM-41.

Tripe.   I swear.  Tripe.

Which is what the hope that humanity will avoid climate catastrophe is.

In one process ("Process B" and there's a lot of processes discussed in the paper) the energy cost of recovering carbon dioxide is given as 6328 MJ/t CO2.

Last year, humanity dumped about 31.6 billion tons of the dangerous fossil fuel waste CO2 into its favorite waste dump, the planetary atmosphere.

If one has not joined Greenpeace and thus can still multiply, divide, add and subtract, one can directly calculate that to recapture the pre-sequestered and then de-sequestered carbon from Earth's atmosphere, it would require 199 exajoules of energy using process B.

We're saved.

This is about twice the annual amount of energy consumed by the United States, that "environmental" country that we live in.   Humanity as a whole is now consuming about 520 exajoules of energy as a whole.

Don't worry.   Be happy.

All of Europe, after throwing hundreds of billions of Euros down the rabbit hole, now produces about 2 exajoules of so called "renewable energy."

We're saved.

Actually, we do know how to produce energy without carbon dioxide on a large scale, but a rather large portion of the population, motivate by fear, ignorance and superstition rather hates this form of energy, because it could be responsible (ultimately, albeit not this far) for a few deaths here and there after a 9.0 earthquake and a 15 meter tsunami.

As we all know, everything else, including buildings and cars is otherwise completely safe in a 9.0 earthquake and 15 meter tsunami.

I could go on and on with the cool stuff in this paper, but let me just run the conclusion by you.

The authors, very nice guys I'm sure, and very smart guys conclude like this:

In conclusion, we have developed process models that account for some of the issues that need to be taken into account while considering the viability of adsorption-based air capture technologies. We have identified one process that appears promising based on these initial models. Our work should motivate future experimental and modeling efforts to refine the specifications of processes like this one and define more detailed estimates of their economics.
Don't worry guys.   We, humanity, will get right on it, right after we figure where the grain is going to come from.

Enjoy your evening in spite of any heat or other extreme weather warnings may apply in your area.

Originally posted to NNadir on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 02:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Dead trees, dead wood, dead people, hot stuff, (10+ / 0-)

    baked withered corn, dried up lutefisk, persistant droughts, Joe Paterno's statue, football, Xenu, the hidden costs of carbon capture, ordinary free hide rates, and pure captured and sequestered troll rates all go here.

    •  heat can kill trees, true (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir, DawnN, Lujane

      photosynthesis stops at roughly 104 F, and high nighttime (low) T can cause increases in respiration which can weaken the trees.  Weak trees can then succumb very easily to pests and pathogens.  Heat itself will not cause all trees to die, and planting of them or reforesting degraded lands should not be casually dismissed.  On the other hand, planting trees alone will not solve atmospheric CO2 contamination, and to solve that problem, something along the lines of the C capture technologies described in those papers will be needed.

  •  we already have that tech! (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee, DRo, brasilaaron, palantir, DawnN, Lujane
    Direct Capture of Carbon Dioxide From the Air.

    The practice described in the title of this diary will, I predict, never happen

    it's already happening every day via plants.  carbon sinks gooood.  deforestation bayud.  legalizing agricultural hemp would do wonders.

    Die with your boots on. If you're gonna try, well stick around. Gonna cry? Just move along. The truth of all predictions is always in your hands. - Iron Maiden

    by Cedwyn on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 02:23:03 PM PDT

    •  Problems with that . . . (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, palantir, DawnN, Lujane

      the most obvious being that it's, um, "renewable".  Pretty much all the Carbon captured by plants gets quickly returned to the atmosphere by, um, "natural" routes.  It's not a "sink".

      Another is the other necessary "inputs" . . . acerage, energy (for processing, if you actually want to "capture" the Carbon), and water.  Oh, and all the other "plant nutrients" that have to be returned to the soil after the Carbon is removed from the "natural" loop.  It all adds up to a lot of all-of-the-above for not a whole lot (not enough, anyway) of result.  Which is not to say that it's a bad idea, or impossible . . . "nature" has been doing it sustainably for a long time.  But that was before the idiots came along and started digging up stuff that "nature" has been stashing away for millions of years.  It's on the idiots (or the idiots' kids) to fix that.  And it's going to take a lot more than some hemp macrame to do it.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 03:14:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  not entirely true (6+ / 0-)

        some portion of that biomass gets converted into recalcitrant soil-C which can persist for decades (10%), centuries (1%) and even millenia (0.1%).

      •  Biochar can sequester carbon, but the burning does (0+ / 0-)

        liberate a least some of the carbon captured in the plant matter, so it's slower and required more iterations than would be ideal.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 06:35:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And it needs water, lots of water (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FarWestGirl, Lujane, PeterHug

          and land (lots of land) and "other nutrients" (lots of "other nutrients") and time (lots of time) . . . none of which we have.  400ppm now, 450ppm in 20 years, plus the "methane pulse" soon to arrive from the Arctic . . . and another hundred years of heat trapping is "locked in" even if the rise is stopped.  Which it won't be.

          It will take an industrial effort of a magnitude equal to the entirety of the past hundred years to "undo" the past hundred years of Carbon mining, layered on top of whatever it takes to maintain 6-7-8 billion people.  Show me where it's even being considered, let alone planned for and made to happen . . . we can't even get nuclear plants built to replace the coal that's being burned now.

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 06:52:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ::sigh:: yeah, most days it doesn't seem like even (0+ / 0-)

            getting out of bed's worthwhile.

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

            by FarWestGirl on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 08:11:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, I'm savoring every day . . . (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              and have a list of places to visit "one more time" . . .

              We on the West Coast actually have it rather good . . . the moderating effects of the Pacific will delay the worst of it (and we're used to high desert anyway).  As noted elsewhere in the comments the western pine forests are taking a beating from beetles, and we're going to lose a lot of oaks to Phytophthora, but those losses are more a result of invasive pathogens than "climate change".  Scat happens, most of the great Western Forests have been "harvested" anyway . . . trashed . . . just as the overall landscape is . . . trashed . . . by too many people.

              Enjoy your time.  Think twice about kids . . .

              Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

              by Deward Hastings on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 08:34:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  But That Biomass Needs to Be Buried Out of Cir- (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, palantir, FarWestGirl, Lujane

      culation. Only ocean plankton sequesters carbon in a big ongoing way I'm pretty sure. It falls to the bottom where it doesn't find its way back to the ocean or water, and eventually dives down the subduction zones.

      We have to get bazillions of tons of biomass underground and/or onto the sea bottom to do any real good.

      Short term it's better to work on methane, which is like 10x more potent, and the only fast way to do that is to drastically cut down meat consumption.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 03:31:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But then we have to eat lots and lots of beans, (0+ / 0-)

        which will cause more methane...
        Sorry, couldn't resist, but this diary is so bleak...
        The first thing we are going to have to do, regardless of all the other considerations, is educate the this and the next generation about the realities of this problem, and that means every human on earth.
        In order to do that, we are going to need a full-bodied culture of awareness about each human's relation to the planet.
        So in that context, I think tree planting, reforestation, urban gardening, locavore-ism, more vegetarianism, hemp, water conservation, mass transit, a revolution in architecture and urban planning/design, ocean ecology, and last but not least, family planning and reduction in the growth of human population,  all of these things are important and critical to eventually getting the public will to face the problem and to put all the necessary resourses to solving the problem.
        We just have to not delude ourselves that planting a couple of trees etc. will be equal to the challenge. We're going to need new technologies that even the brightest, best informed scientists haven't even thought of yet.
        The good news is that we now have the global networks and the social media, etc. through which we can develop this culture.
        There are reasons besides global warming that reforestation needs to be done. Ditto a return to small farms. Among them is the employment that is created.
        We need this culture, which already exists, to grow and for its voice to become stronger.
        If scientists can find an energy solution like thorium nuclear reactors that are really, really safe, then, great.
        We still cannot afford ignorance anymore.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 06:34:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks. I would love to see more (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, DawnN, FarWestGirl

    discussion of this here, though I'm way too scientifically ignorant to comment on much of it.

    And I confess to praying that somehow we can figure out how to capture C02 from the atmosphere... biochar, algae, etc etc.

  •  I know you're being snarky (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, Lujane

    But what you describe is still much more likely to solve the problem then depending on people to reduce their own consumption beyond the levels that can be achieved by efficiency or trying to convince them to leave a cheap energy source in the ground.

    "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

    by Whimsical on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 03:02:29 PM PDT

    •  I'm not being snarky. The problem won't be... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deward Hastings, Lujane, PeterHug


      The failure may come with a lot of platitudes, but it is now a done deal.

      My heart is broken by it.

      •  Sorry, but your attitude sucks. (0+ / 0-)

        If we're doomed already then explain to me why I shouldn't run my A/C so my apartment is 40 degrees while eating an enormous stake with every meal while running my Hummer which is missing a ctaclytic converter.

        You want me to fight? Don't tell me we're already doomed.

        "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

        by Whimsical on Thu Jul 19, 2012 at 05:02:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, in fact, it does. (0+ / 0-)

          My attitude sucks, badly.

          I fought as long and as hard as I could, but I'm seriously disillusioned.  

          You may check the list of diaries I've written here to judge whether or not I cared.

          Each person in life should make his or her choices and should be informed by his or her ethical, intellectual and knowledge base.

          No one should go by someone else's version of said bases.  

          And certainly, no one should look to a minor writer on a minor website to make these kinds of choices.

          When the Titanic sank, some people bravely accepted their fate, some fought to get in lifeboats, and some tried to save the lives of other people.

          Some may have tried to save the ship, I don't know.

          I wouldn't expect that anyone went around to punch new holes in the hull, but I don't know.

          But again, what you do is your choice.

          That's all I have to say on this topic.

  •  Grow bamboo and bury it in old coal mines then (4+ / 0-)

    capture and burn any methane released from decomposition. Much cheaper, and easier than most of methods proposed.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 03:13:08 PM PDT

  •  NNadir, I know you're passionate about this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NNadir, palantir, jim in IA, Lujane

    and prefer to snark and snipe but my teeth start to hurt about four paragraphs  in. Could you give me a one or two paragraph executive summary of the carbon capture process? Thanks.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 03:14:26 PM PDT

    •  I'm not NNadir but it's really a simple process. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, palantir, DawnN, FarWestGirl, Lujane

      Metal oxides react with CO2 and form carbonates. These carbonates are quite stable and can serve as a CO2 sink. The problem is that the most reactive metal oxides are not present in the oxide form (b/c they are reactive) and need to be converted to it. Conversion takes energy.

    •  Sure. (8+ / 0-)

      If I recall correctly, you're a chemist.

      The most common industrial agent for the capture or removal of carbon dioxide is monoethylamine (MEA) which forms a metastable amino/carbonate complex.  It is not always strictly a salt, by the way, of carbonate and and an ammonium species by the way.    

      These types of complexes are also used in biological systems, where lysine residues on proteins play the role of the amine function.

      The absorption of the carbonate is favorable at reasonably low temperatures, and unfavorable at higher temperatures.   Therefore one can absorb carbon dioxide, heat the solution, drive off the carbon dioxide and regenerate the catalyst.

      However, repetition of the process sometimes causes the amines to degrade.    Therefore many other types of amines and amino functions have been tried, secondary amines, trialkyl amines, etc.  

      There are also some very interesting ionic liquids that seem to have a high solubility for carbon dioxide.   These obviously contain amino functions:   Many ionic liquids are quarterary ammonium salts with negatively charged species as counterions, such as bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide salts.

      Some are better than others in terms of stability and energy efficiency, but obviously for all an energy input is required.

      There are also solid phase analogues.

      I am not familiar with the structure and properties of the absorbent described in this paper, but it seems to be a member of a class of organosilicon amines that have been investigated quite a bit.

      I did read an Olah paper on this topic not too long ago - I think it was in JACS - and it was quite interesting, but I can't recall the exact reference exactly or where in my computer I filed it.  

      It's nice of Olah to give a rat's ass at his age.   He's 86.    I guess he still cares about humanity.

      God knows why, but that - should there be a God - is between him and God.

      Anyway, it's a lost cause in any case.   It won't happen.

      Nothing will be done until it's far too late.   How do I know?

      Because it's too late now.

  •  Humanity Doesn't Have a Say In It, Ownership (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, palantir, jim in IA, FarWestGirl

    does, and ownership has long ago calculated that it can and will accept the consequences of carrying on as we are.

    Maybe climate science can put together a mission to a number of the world's richest whose fortunes aren't inherently wedded to big dirty oil, and gin up an intra-ownership fight to save the planet for more than a fraction of a billion of us.

    So far though nobody's stepping up, and there isn't a single billionaire on earth fighting for the far more modest goal of making the US a liberal society.

    Gotta agree, the future appears carved in stone to me too.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 03:27:30 PM PDT

  •  Lake Michigan..... (7+ / 0-) of the great inland seas is not so slowly drying up.  The chances of our society deciding to tax ourselves thousands of dollars per year to sequester the carbon we a spewing are zero.

    I just got home from a wonderful week on the shore of our beautiful lake.  It was a wonderful week, grandkids, fishing (not much luck), cook-outs, evenings on the porch watching the sun go down.  We had a bit of a respite from the heat wave for the first five days, but the melt-down has returned.  Freakish heat for this far north (Grand Traverse Bay), is killing trees here too.  

    Dying old white cedars are common, but the change in the lake is the most remarkable.  The lake is already down 2-3 feet from 4 years ago, and we actully witnessed a drop of a couple of inches from evaporation in one week.  There are new sand-flats everywhere that were lake bottom before.  It's common to see old boat moorings high and dry a hundred feet from the former water's edge.

    How about this for a number: 1 foot of vanished Lake Michigan water is 300,000,000,000 gallons.

    I look back at my own profligate energy rich life with the certain knowledge that the world that my grandchildren will inherit will bring challenges that we can't imagine.  The natural systems of the world are now entering an unstable era, and we can only hypothisize the outcome.

    I am certain that only a fraction of today's huge and unsustainable population will survive.  Shame on all of us for doing nothing.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 03:34:02 PM PDT

  •  Bury your carbon: Terra preta (5+ / 0-)

    Terra preta

    There's another idea that some folks have been pursuing. Photosynthetic biomass (algae, trees, corn, hemp, etc.) removes CO2 from the atmosphere by the photosynthetic process. That's how they grow; no TSA required. (Photons, yes.) Any solid biomass can be "carbonized" by at least four processes I know of:
    (1) Charcoal making process. This is an ancient low-tech low cost process!
    (2) Pyrolysis- A more modern process which produces (low quality) bio-oil, noncondensible gases, and 10% - 15% solid char by-product.
    (3) Torrefaction - This is sort of a roasting process, which drives off a lot of volatiles, leaving behind a dark solid with increased carbon content.
    (4) Hydrothermal carbonization - This is a process in which the biomass is "cooked" in hot compressed water for a period of time. About 55% - 80% (depending on lots of things) of the biomass is left behind as a carbon rich char. (I've written a bunch of papers on this topic.)

    All four of those methods produce something that can be called a char. In the first (charcoal) and last (hydrothermal carbonization) I find it useful to think of the processes similar to accelerating the natural process of conversion of biomass to coal. The end product is similar to lignite.

    These "biochars" are quite different, but are all rich in carbon, and are pretty stable to biological degradation. I don't know of specific studies looking at decomposition rates, but I do know that the Terra Preta in Brazil is said to be stable over a period of thousands of years.

    How's that for a cool idea? Let the sun harvest the CO2 for you, then carbonize the biomass, and bury it.

    If we apply this to salt-water microalgae, the fastest growing biomass, then we could make serious progress toward burying the CO2.

    Pretty cool, huh?

  •  The Pine Bark Beetle is wintering over (5+ / 0-)

    in sufficient quantities now to destroy millions of acres from BC down to NM. Similar bugs are infesting many other states.

    It's been ten years since I started seeing huge swaths of forest, mountain after mountain to the horizon, completely rust-colored, the dead needles still clinging to the trees.

    At least media are reporting the resulting wildfires.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:39:56 PM PDT

  •  I have some 'direct CO2 capture' devices... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in my back yard. I call them trees. I know, it's not the same as the direct techniques in the diary. I'd like to see more of them world wide.

    I also have cut back on my carbon footprint to less than half the normal per capita amount. I wish I could do more. If I were king, not Steve King btw, I would make it harder for people to burn fossil fuels for their fun and enjoyment.

    Universe started with a Big Bang. It's big, getting bigger, and mostly dark.

    by jim in IA on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:56:19 PM PDT

    •  The problem is, Jim, that trees are not safe. (5+ / 0-)

      I'm serious.    I cannot go twenty meters outside of my house without seeing four massive dead trees.

      They need water to survive these temperatures.   They take decades, centuries, to grow.

      All over the world, major forests are dying and burning.

      I wish trees were the answer.   I'm a long time tree hugger myself, but what I'm seeing here, in New Jersey is simply horrible.

      Even the poison ivy is stressed here.

      •  They WERE the part of answer before we... (4+ / 0-)

        humans took over the world. Now, we need some other approaches that are faster and more efficient CO2 removers.

        We are 9" behind our normal precip for the year in E IA. The temps and lack of rain are stressing everything, even the humans. If I tossed a lit match into my yard, it would go up in a flash. I haven't run a mower over it since May 28. My Virginia Creeper is wilting.

        Universe started with a Big Bang. It's big, getting bigger, and mostly dark.

        by jim in IA on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 05:07:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, but what about the Nittany Lions' chances (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NNadir, jim in IA

         in the Big Ten?

    Thanks NNadir. Tip'd, rec'd, & reposted.

  •  came across this several years ago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    and this.

    it's essentially a process to create synthetic fuel from the excess CO2 in the air. Process also requires a massive amount of energy.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 05:11:53 PM PDT

    •  The hydrogenation of carbon oxides to make... (4+ / 0-)

      ...fuels is well known and has been industrially practiced in various places, most notably in Nazi Germany and in Apartheid era South Africa.

      Eastman operated a chemical plant in Tennessee that did something similar to make various types of intermediates that all were typically obtained from petroleum.

      Right now, China is making the wonder fuel DME.

      Regrettably all of these plants use carbon oxides, usually the monoxide, derived from coal.

      But there is no technical reason to do this.

      Some years back, when I was far less cynical than I am now, I discussed this sort of thing in a diary here:

      The Utility of Light: Getting Real with the Existing Energy Infrastructure.

      That was 2007.  

      Since then, the concentration of dangerous fossil fuel waste in the atmosphere has increased by 12 ppm.

      •  Am I wrong? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The ocean absorbs co2 from the air. However, this process is causing the acidification of the oceans.
        I don't know the science, but somehow I think the solution is going to be how to work with the natural elements of our planet , esp. the oceans.
        Otherwise I don't see how we get the scale to really make a difference.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 07:09:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, David, the problem is that the oceans... (0+ / 0-)

 the atmosphere, are probably being badly damaged by the CO2 that they absorb.

          They have already absorbed a great deal, and as you note, they are being acidified - nitrates and sulfates add to this effect.

          My personal view is that the problem has no "solution," and if there were one, their is neither the political will nor the resources to attempt the "solution."

          I am willing to encourage people to try a solution - and I believe that there are some approaches that have a better probability than others - but I now believe, frankly, that there is no solution.

  •  Reality check (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deward Hastings

    It took natural processes 100's of millions of years to turn atmospheric CO2 into coal and oil.

    With our science and tools, we have dug up that carbon and burned it in a couple of hundred years.  Combustion is fast, trees live for centuries.  Thinking that we can easily reverse this process by planting trees, cropping hemp, or whatever is a fantasy.

    The ancients cut down their trees, leaving sandy ziggaruts where once was the Garden of Eden.  We have done the same.  I used to think with hope we would of necessity find a solution.  As world population has increased fourfold in my lifetime, I do not anymore.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 07:10:22 PM PDT

  •  A diary described "a kind of plastic-coated sand" (0+ / 0-)

    that absorbs CO2 from the air and then releases it again at 700 degrees; ten cycles of this in a day and the stuff's sequestered 40% of its WEIGHT in CO2.

    It said a U.S. university'd filed for a patent on the process. In the thread someone figured $200 billion, problem solved.

    The title ended with something like 'absorbs atmospheric CO2 like crazy'. Several months ago. Anybody remember this?

    •  and the energy (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PrahaPartizan, David54, mookins

      to heat it to 700 degrees comes from where?  And the energy to compress it to a managable volume comes from where?  And the energy to strip that Oxygen off so you can actually, like, "sequester" the Carbon comes from where?  I'm thinking that someone was a bit "irrationally optimistic" in their calculations . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 09:36:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you're talking about this one (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mookins, NNadir

      by Keith Pickering.

      The diary talks about a JACS paper (Carbon Dioxide Capture from the Air Using a Polyamine Based Regenerable Solid Adsorbent.  Alain Goeppert, Miklos Czaun, Robert B. May, G. K. Surya Prakash, George A. Olah, and S. R. Narayanan. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133 (50), pp 20164–20167
      DOI: 10.1021/ja2100005).

      What they did was use fumed silica as a support for polyethyleneimine for CO2 capture from air.  This is interesting work, and it may be the Olah paper that NNadir mentions in a comment above.  Unfortunately, all the downstream issues still apply (how to find the energy to regenerate, what to do with the CO2 once it's been concentrated; as well as the problem of scale and time to full build-out.

      When you come right down to it, I agree with NNadir - we are too late, and nothing will be done.  Look forward to 5 - 6 degrees C as the best-case scenario, and hope we don't end up with a runaway greenhouse as the worst.

      •  The diary said the 700 degrees could come (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        from solar reflectors (not sure if that was the diarist's opinion or part of the proposal), and that the CO2 would be fed to cyanobacteria engineered to secrete gasoline, but that's not the same as sequestering, I see that now.

        Anyway thank you Peterhug and Deward Hastings for the well-informed and very informative replies. Man this site is the best!

  •  Carbon dioxide (0+ / 0-)

     One proposed method for lowering CO2 levels is by digging up and crushing olivine rock ( magnesium silicate) which binds CO2 with an exothermic reaction. One cubic kilometer of olivine would remove four billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air, so eight would neutralise our current emissions. If this was done using nuclear power, at the same time as a concerted push to replace coal with nuclear power, and before major climate feedbacks really kick in, our descendants might have a chance.
       It could be foolish optimism, but I think if there is any physically possible way to save humanity's ass, and enough people know it, it will be done. They'd better wake up soon though, the oceans are warming up, and they're way more massive than the atmosphere.
       A guy named Wong had another scheme for getting rid of CO2 involving selectively ionising the molecules in the arctic stratosphere and putting spin on them with tuned radio waves, then letting the vertical magnetic field there carry them up into space. His project in Alaska has apparently been closed so I guess it's not practical or not interesting.

  •  Carbon Capture and Storage: MIT Short Course (0+ / 0-)
    Monday, July 23, 2012
    MIT Professional Education Short Programs: Carbon Capture and Storage: Science, Technology, and Policy
    Speaker: Ruben Juanes and Howard Herzog

    Time: All day

    Location: MIT Campus

    MIT Professional Education Short Programs
    Short courses designed for scientists, engineers, and technical professionals.

    Covers the science, technology, and policy aspects of carbon capture and storage (CCS). Provides an in-depth understanding of CCS's role in the climate change mitigation portfolio, the technical approaches to CO2 capture, the science behind geological storage, site selection and risk evaluation, and the role of policy in establishing a market and business opportunities for CCS. Course runs July 23-25, 2012.

    Web site:
    Open to: Open Registration - a short application must be completed.

    Cost: $2,250

    Tickets: Register Online

    Sponsor(s): MIT Professional Education

    For more information, contact:

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 09:27:04 AM PDT

    •  I'll bet this would prove as amusing as when... (0+ / 0-)

      ...Dave Eaglesham spoke at Princeton to announce that the only problem that the solar industry had was that it didn't get more subsidies.

      I would personally find it absurd to attend any conference where people claimed it was possible to store 30 billion tons a year of a gas for eternity while people carry on endlessly about how it is impossible to store 75,000 tons of largely insoluble solid accumulated over 50 years for a few thousand years.

      Caveat Emptor.

      You could pay billions upon billions to take courses on CSS at MIT and still be faced with the obvious reality that it won't work.

      If we could find 100 exajoules of fossil fuel waste energy to collect the carbon, obviously we wouldn't be burning the carbon in the first place.

      •  MIT (0+ / 0-)

        Last event on nuclear waste issues I went to at MIT ended up with everybody essentially agreeing that there is no problem at all, at all with nuclear waste for at least the next 25 years (   That was in 2009, before Fukushima and the news about the 25 or so same model nukes in the US that have spent fuel pools outside of containment, however, though I doubt opinions have changed.

        My experience at MIT is that they are very much pro-nuke as an institution.  The nuclear engineering department is rabidly so, haven't seen such fanatically bright eyes since I mistakenly intruded on a CPUSA meeting.  

        You're missing the basic point of the whole exercise:

        and the role of policy in establishing a market and business opportunities for CCS
        Guess who's gonna be in this business.  All your favorite engineering companies, the same ones that have made a business of building nukes.  Oil and gas companies will also apply their drilling expertise to CCS if they can make money at it.  It's just like fracking, in more ways than one.  

        Once again the evil cabal of Greenpeace anti-nukes and the media will have suckered those naive innocents at GE, Westinghouse, and Bechtel into a briar patch worth billions of dollars.  Bwah-ha-ha.

        Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

        by gmoke on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 10:19:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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