Direct air carbon capture technology must be developed to help fight climate change. – Slate Magazine

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We have to invest in technology to remove the CO2 already in the atmosphere.


According to data being gathered at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which has been monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1958, the CO2 concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere officially exceeded the 400 parts per million mark last week, a value not attained on Earth since humans were first human.

This ominous milestone comes at a time when the evidence that human activity is resulting in unprecedented climate change is now overwhelming. More important, perhaps, even if all greenhouse gas production ceased immediately, this elevated carbon dioxide level would persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

Indeed, even moving relatively quickly toward a carbon-neutral economy will still result in a net increase in CO2 in the atmosphere for the foreseeable future. But that is moot, because we are nowhere close to moving quickly in this regard anyway. Fossil fuel reserves have effectively increased, due to improved technologies for extraction, and investment in alternative energy sources has been limited due to artificially low prices on carbon-based energy. As a result, 2012 was likely another record year for human-induced CO2 production.

So in addition to undertaking dramatic global efforts to reduce present and future CO2 emissions, we need a strategy for addressing the carbon already up there. Recently, a broad group of geologists, planetary scientists, climatologists, social scientists, and physicists convened at the Origins Project at Arizona State University, which I direct, to explore such strategies. (Disclosure: Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, the New America Foundation, and ASU.) As an upcoming paper being prepared by 15 of the participants at the meeting will argue, we came to a broad consensus that there is an increasingly urgent need to seriously consider removing and sequestering CO2 directly from our atmosphere.

This effort should not be confused with ongoing efforts to capture CO2 and sequestering it at its source, for example, from outgoing flue gas from coal-fired power plants. That area is important, too, but it’s already being explored, and the technological demands are quite different.

Extracting CO2 from the atmosphere, even with its current level of 400 ppm, is very different—and in some ways more difficult—than extracting it from flue gas, where the CO2 concentration is much greater. But on the brighter side, extracting ambient CO2 from the atmosphere does not have to be anywhere near 100 percent efficient. Both of these factors imply different constraints on the extraction process that will affect its ultimate cost.
 

Written By: Lawrence Krauss
continue to source article at slate.com

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  1. The suggestion is some combination of mad or immoral.

    The efficient way to extract Co2 is at source. Every carbon fuel power station in the world should have CO2 extractors in its flues. Even large mobile power plants like ships engines should have the same technology. That just leaves lorries, cars and lawnmowers. We should work towards electrification. If we add some biofuels, including bacterial production, and store a 100 billion tons of it a stock, we may stabilise atmospheric CO2.

    If we can’t gather the political will, and taxation, to do the above, how the hell are we going to tackle the much bigger challenge of extracting CO2 when it is diluted in the global atmosphere? If anyone thinks I’m going to vote for big carbon carrying on as usual, while my taxation goes through the roof to extract CO2 the hard /expensive way, so cleaning up big carbon’s mess, they have another think coming. That’s immoral.

    • In reply to #1 by God fearing Atheist:

      The suggestion is some combination of mad or immoral.

      The efficient way to extract Co2 is at source. Every carbon fuel power station in the world should have CO2 extractors in its flues. Even large mobile power plants like ships engines should have the same technology. That just leaves lorries, car…

      The logical way to pay for it is to have a carbon tax. A carbon tax is not immoral. In fact, not having a carbon tax is immoral.

  2. I thought green plants were quite good at removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Maybe we should grow more trees as a simple partial “cure.” How many trees would it take to make a significant difference?

    • Or perhaps I didn’t think this through! When plants die (or are otherwise consumed) do they release the CO2 back to the environment? I was trained in Physics not Biology or Chemistry but the principle of conservation of energy comes to mind. Perhaps other respondents with more knowledge of the subject could enlighten me?

      In reply to #2 by stuhillman:

      I thought green plants were quite good at removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Maybe we should grow more trees as a simple partial “cure.” How many trees would it take to make a significant difference?

      • In reply to #3 by stuhillman:

        Or perhaps I didn’t think this through! When plants die (or are otherwise consumed) do they release the CO2 back to the environment?

        Yes. To some approximation the biosphere is in carbon balance. Until 7 billion apes fuck with it.

  3. @OP – There are two parts to the extraction process. First, one removes CO2 from the air by using a sorbent, which is a material that can absorb gasses. Next, the CO2 has to be extracted from the sorbent and sequestered, presumably by pumping it deep underground at relatively high concentration or by binding it to minerals—a bit like how we handle nuclear waste.

    I find this unconvincing! Producing minerals such as quicklime which absorb CO2 involves releasing CO2 in the manufacturing process, before re-absorbing a similar quantity of it! Burning coal in the process produces more CO2 than the lime re-absorbs.

    Pumping it underground is likely to cause it to leak out in the longer term, which would be very dangerous to animal life on land, (As volcanic out-gassing already is!),
    Volcanic Lakes and Gas Releases

    and would cause severe acidification in oceans as volcanic CO2 releases through the sea-bed already does.

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/04/ocean-acidification/liittschwager-photography

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/04/ocean-acidification/kolbert-text

    The best way to take carbon out of the atmosphere, would be to grow plant material (such as wood) and bury it deep underground to form coal measures.

    This is of course the opposite of what miners are doing at present.

    It would have to be deep underground, away from oxygen, or the biomass could ferment producing methane to aggravate the warming!

    Given that billions of tons of CO2 are involved, it is questionable if this is feasible!

    • In reply to #6 by Alan4discussion:

      @OP – There are two parts to the extraction process. First, one removes CO2 from the air by using a sorbent, which is a material that can absorb gasses. Next, the CO2 has to be extracted from the sorbent and sequestered, presumably by pumping it deep underground at relatively high concentration or b…

      I agree. I haven’t looked at the technology in detail but from what I’ve seen the sequestering route is just another shell game to continue using fossil fuels with vague promises and untested hypotheses about doing it in a “clean” way. And I share the skepticism of others about the technology to get carbon out of the air. The real answer is obvious and so far war are avoiding it. We need to drastically change our energy usage away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. Once we make serious progress with that we can think of ways to reverse the damage done but until we do this kind of thing seems to me analogous to worrying if a gun shot victim has had a Tetanus shot while they are still bleeding to death.

  4. I think Krauss has somewhat lost it here. America, with 5% of the world’s population, uses 25% of the world’s energy. Pretty inefficiently, and not in a very green manner. That’s five ties the global average, and average which is itself too high.

    There are other bad exemplars (notably Australia), but really the starting point has to be produce less CO2, not throw money (vast sums) at the consequences of failing to do so.

  5. I’m sorry, but didn’t anyone actually read the article? Both here and on slate, all I see is comments from people who maybe read something on the internet once, but obviously they are right and the group of esteemed scientists who spent a whole conference considering this issue obviously have no clue what they are talking about. Right? Oh, and note that he did not advocate CO2 capture, he said more research must be done to find out if it is feasible or not. Yet people are so sure that it is not? Where is this information that Krauss and co wasn’t competent enough to find? You know, I sort of expected better, at least on this site.

    • In reply to #9 by MahouShoujoMaruin:

      I’m sorry, but didn’t anyone actually read the article? Both here and on slate, all I see is comments from people who maybe read something on the internet once, but obviously they are right and the group of esteemed scientists who spent a whole conference considering this issue obviously have no clu…

      We know it is possible to capture CO2 from the atmosphere, we are just commenting it is a waste of money, and therefore researching it is also a waste of money, and a distraction.

      There are three ways out of the crisis:-

      1) More efficient energy usage. e.g. cars that get 60 mpg rather than 30 mpg etc etc

      2) Carbon free energy capture e.g. solar and wind. (maybe even nuclear) etc etc

      3) Capture carbon at source.

      You don’t need to know much physics to appreciate how much harder it is to extract 400 litres of CO2 from 1,000,000 litres of atmosphere, than it is to extract it from 2,000 litres of flue gas.

      If we ever get to a CO2 neutral world economy, and natural processes are taking too long to reduce CO2, then maybe we should try cleaning our atmosphere. But I suspect by that time the damage will have been done, and there will be no more damage left to occur, and it still won’t be worth the cost, and humans will just live with 600 ppm CO2 until it decays naturally.

      • In reply to #10 by God fearing Atheist:

        We know it is possible to capture CO2 from the atmosphere, we are just commenting it is a waste of money, and therefore researching it is also a waste of money, and a distraction.

        There are three ways out of the crisis:-

        1) More efficient energy usage. e.g. cars that get 60 mpg rather than 30 mpg etc etc

        2) Carbon free energy capture e.g. solar and wind. (maybe even nuclear) etc etc

        3) Capture carbon at source.

        You don’t need to know much physics to appreciate how much harder it is to extract 400 litres of CO2 from 1,000,000 litres of atmosphere, than it is to extract it from 2,000 litres of flue gas.

        If we ever get to a CO2 neutral world economy, and natural processes are taking too long to reduce CO2, then maybe we should try cleaning our atmosphere. But I suspect by that time the damage will have been done, and there will be no more damage left to occur, and it still won’t be worth the cost, and humans will just live with 600 ppm CO2 until it decays naturally.

        But that’s the whole point of the article; we know it is possible in theory, we need more research into different ways of achieving it technically, and only then can we judge if it is economically feasible.
        Just to be clear here, Krauss and his team is claiming we need to do more research, random anonymous internet comments are claiming there is no need for research. I’m going to believe the scientists over anonymous internet comments; even if you disagree I’m sure you can appreciate why.

        Oh, and btw, he did not say that CO2 extraction from the atmosphere should be used instead of anything else, he was merely suggesting we need research to see if it might be a valuable addition.

        • In reply to #14 by MahouShoujoMaruin:

          But that’s the whole point of the article; we know it is possible in theory,

          No we don’t! That is simply your ASSUMPTION!

          we need more research into different ways of achieving it technically, and only then can we judge if it is economically feasible. Just to be clear here, Krauss and his team is claiming we need to do more research, random anonymous internet comments are claiming there is no need for research.

          I hope you are not referring to my comments of those of Jos and a few others. I am certainly not saying there should be NO research on this. Merely that it is a distraction from much more urgent issues on which the research has already been done and for which the proven technology is available.

          What is needed is urgent ACTION to put Solar, tidal, and Thorium and advanced gas-cooled nuclear reactors in place, together with better managed use of energy and less waste, by using recycled heat-storage and better buildings, LED street-lighting etc.

          It would appear that those involved have not considered the existing research, which indicates that this looks ineffective and dangerous, – as my links which you have not commented on @6, show.

          They are belatedly starting what others have already researched.

          What the political muppets are doing, is using the cost of future damage to subsidise cheap carbon based energy now, so as to undercut and discourage the alternative clean energy technologies, – acting as stooges of the profitable carbon industries.
          They are of course “profitable”, only as long as they do not have to pay for the future damage caused by their pollution!

          I’m going to believe the scientists over anonymous internet comments; even if you disagree

          No you are not! What you are doing is cherry picking WHICH scientists you choose to believe without checking the research, while describing links to evidenced science, as “anonymous internet comments”.

          I’m sure you can appreciate why.

          Probably because you are unaware of the research and options, which have previously been researched by other people!

          Oh, and btw, he did not say that CO2 extraction from the atmosphere should be used instead of anything else, he was merely suggesting we need research to see if it might be a valuable addition.

          That fact that politicians have prevaricated and deniers have obstructed necessary technologies, may well mean we NEED to extract CO2 from the atmosphere. That does not make sequestration or underground pressurised storage of billions of tons of CO2 feasible of safe!

          The best absorbers of CO2 are plants! – Like the forests rip-off artists are destroying!

          • In reply to #21 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #14 by MahouShoujoMaruin:

            But that’s the whole point of the article; we know it is possible in theory,

            No we don’t! That is simply your ASSUMPTION!

            we need more research into different ways of achieving it technically, and only then can we judge if it is economically feasible. Just to be clear here, Krauss and his team is claiming we need to do more research, random anonymous internet comments are claiming there is no need for research.

            I hope you are not referring to my comments of those of Jos and a few others. I am certainly not saying there should be NO research on this. Merely that it is a distraction from much more urgent issues on which the research has already been done and for which the proven technology is available.

            What is needed is urgent ACTION to put Solar, tidal, and Thorium and advanced gas-cooled nuclear reactors in place, together with better managed use of energy and less waste, by using recycled heat-storage and better buildings, LED street-lighting etc.

            It would appear that those involved have not considered the existing research, which indicates that this looks ineffective and dangerous, – as my links which you have not commented on @6, show.

            They are belatedly starting what others have already researched.

            What the political muppets are doing, is using the cost of future damage to subsidise cheap carbon based energy now, so as to undercut and discourage the alternative clean energy technologies, – acting as stooges of the profitable carbon industries. They are of course “profitable”, only as long as they do not have to pay for the future damage caused by their pollution!

            I’m going to believe the scientists over anonymous internet comments; even if you disagree

            No you are not! What you are doing is cherry picking WHICH scientists you choose to believe without checking the research, while describing links to evidenced science, as “anonymous internet comments”.

            I’m sure you can appreciate why.

            Probably because you are unaware of the research and options, which have previously been researched by other people!

            Oh, and btw, he did not say that CO2 extraction from the atmosphere should be used instead of anything else, he was merely suggesting we need research to see if it might be a valuable addition.

            That fact that politicians have prevaricated and deniers have obstructed necessary technologies, may well mean we NEED to extract CO2 from the atmosphere. That does not make sequestration or underground pressurised storage of billions of tons of CO2 feasible of safe!

            The best absorbers of CO2 are plants! – Like the forests rip-off artists are destroying!

            First of all, sorry about the mess of quotes, I’m not too happy about the software here. I really wish this site would return to the old bulletin board style.

            So

            That is simply your ASSUMPTION!

            ehh, okay, admittedly I did assume it. I was under the impression that was very basic chemistry. Of course, upon seeing your comment, I googled “co2 extraction from air”. If you doubt that this is possible in theory, I suggest you do the same. If not, what was your point?

            Merely that it is a distraction from much more urgent issues on which the research has already been done and for which the proven technology is available.

            It’s a very tiny distraction, and it is sometimes hard to say in advance what will turn out to be important. I think we can afford a few articles and a little research into this as well.

            What is needed is urgent ACTION to put Solar, tidal, and Thorium and advanced gas-cooled nuclear reactors in place, together with better managed use of energy and less waste, by using recycled heat-storage and better buildings, LED street-lighting etc.

            Not sure about solar, it is not that effective, and fairly expensive to build. It can only generate energy half the time at best. A rough calculation I just did puts an upper limit of somewhere around 1 kW per square meter of solar panel. That sounds like quite a bit, but that’s a very rough upper limit, which would only be true for perfect efficiency panels at equator at the middle of the day with a clear sky. Building solar panels in northen europe, for example, is pretty much a waste, and transporting electricity long distances is also wasteful.
            Other than that, yeah, sure, though we should always prioritize research.

            It would appear that those involved have not considered the existing research, which indicates that this looks ineffective and dangerous, – as my links which you have not commented on @6, show.
            They are belatedly starting what others have already researched.They are belatedly starting what others have already researched.

            Why do you say this? Sources? I took a look at your links, they seem completely irrelevant, which is why I didn’t comment on them.

            No you are not! What you are doing is cherry picking WHICH scientists you choose to believe without checking the research, while describing links to evidenced science, as “anonymous internet comments”.

            Why do you think there is any disagreement(relevant to this article) between Krauss and other scientists?
            There was none in your links(which were popular science articles, not peer-reviewed papers btw, nothing wrong with that, but they don’t constitute research in themselves).

            Probably because you are unaware of the research

            Oh, come on, you can accuse anyone of being unaware of some research. I do astrophysics, not climate science. I’m sure there is plenty of research you are unaware of as well. You are not a climate scientist, are you? Point me to research that contradicts Krauss, and I’ll listen.

            That does not make sequestration or underground pressurised storage of billions of tons of CO2 feasible of safe!

            It doesn’t make it unsafe either. But really, who said anything about pressurized underground storage? Looking into feasible methods of storage would be one of the things to research.(There has been done some research on this already, but surely you don’t suggest it has been exhaustive?)

            Finally, why so emotional? Excessive use of bold and italics, and any word in caps, make you appear very emotional about this. If you are, why? If we disagree about anything(it isn’t clear yet), then surely it’s fairly trivial. And if you are relaxed about this, you should probably take a look at your writing style, because the more emotional you appear to be, the less convincing you are. Just some friendly advice, take it or leave it.

            Edit: Thank you, outwitted by fish. I wrote this before I saw your comment.

          • In reply to #24 by MahouShoujoMaruin:

            Not sure about solar, it is not that effective, and fairly expensive to build. It can only generate energy half the time at best. A rough calculation I just did puts an upper limit of somewhere around 1 kW per square meter of solar panel. That sounds like quite a bit, but that’s a very rough upper limit, which would only be true for perfect efficiency panels at equator at the middle of the day with a clear sky. Building solar panels in northen europe, for example, is pretty much a waste, and transporting electricity long distances is also wasteful. Other than that, yeah, sure, though we should always prioritize research.

            I think you’ve given solar a bit of a short shrift, here.

            Yes, the insolation available is on the order of 1 kW/m^2, but depending on the local humidity a sizable fraction of that is indirect, making concentration difficult if not impossible. Cloud cover, tracking, and diurnal variations are further engineering complications.

            That being said, there are many good examples of successful PV installations already in place or under construction. Thermochemical is also a healthy area of development, and both PV and thermochemical installations have copious waste heat to devote to space/water heating, separations, as well as the myriad demands of energy(work, not heat) storage to buffer the intermittent production in order to load-follow demand.

            I haven’t nearly enough time (or inclination – Sorry!) to give a full overview, but both solar and wind power are very attractive areas of development and deployment.

            (Also, I am quite amused by the recent gaffe by Fox News which claimed that Germany’s success with solar is not relevant to US challenges because “Germany gets more sunshine.” Seriously??? If northern Europe can make it feasible, why the Hades is solar not viable at lower latitudes?)

            In a nutshell, though, the biggest challenge facing solar/wind power is the political will to proceed, as well as the necessity for a strong profit motive. Private industry has to see a profit commensurate or greater than existing technology, and government coercion is a very unpopular philosophy here in the States. Government funded research/development and tax structuring to encourage “doing the right thing” are critical, but unfortunately philosophically anathema to American “Don’t Tread On Me” underlying principles. That’s what needs to change for long-term progress.

          • In reply to #24 by MahouShoujoMaruin:

            In reply to #21 by Alan4discussion:

            What is needed is urgent ACTION to put Solar, tidal, and Thorium and advanced gas-cooled nuclear reactors in place, together with better managed use of energy and less waste, by using recycled heat-storage and better buildings, LED street-lighting etc.

            Not sure about solar, it is not that effective, and fairly expensive to build. It can only generate energy half the time at best.

            I think you are looking exclusively at photovoltaic systems, which have problems of continuity of supply. Storing electricity is more difficult than storing heat!

            There are also solar thermal systems, which can run 24/7:

            The 150 MW Andasol solar power station is a commercial parabolic trough solar thermal power plant, located in Spain. The Andasol plant uses tanks of molten salt to store solar energy so that it can continue generating electricity even when the sun isn’t shining. List of solar thermal power station

            Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR), a rocket-engine manufacturer based in Los Angeles, Calif., has marked a major milestone in technology that will provide reliable solar energy on demand – even when the sun isn’t shining.

            The last of 14 Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) receiver panels and heat shields have been installed at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy project, and construction of the 10,400 articulating mirrors, or heliostats, on the 1600-acre heliostat field is underway in Tonopah, Nevada. PWR has provided the worldwide exclusive license to SolarReserve, a developer of large-scale solar energy projects based in Santa Monica, Calif., for the molten salt power tower and heliostat technologies.

            PWR developed technology for the receiver panels, as well as critical components for the molten salt power tower. It also supplied the technology for the receiver structure, onto which the heliostats will direct sunlight. When commissioned in 2014, the 110-megawatt project will be the nation’s first commercial-scale, molten salt solar power tower and world’s largest plant with fully integrated energy storage system, able to provide enough energy to supply 75,000 homes 24/7. http://breakingenergy.com/2013/04/03/concentrated-solar-power-tower-technology-hits-milestone/

            Tidal turbines can produce massive power where there are large tides, and strong currents between islands or in and out of fjords or barrages. Thorium nuclear is the safest nuclear system.

            ehh, okay, admittedly I did assume it. I was under the impression that was very basic chemistry. Of course, upon seeing your comment, I googled “co2 extraction from air”. If you doubt that this is possible in theory, I suggest you do the same. If not, what was your point?

            I have already made the point that the most effective method of extracting CO2 from the air is by using plants! There is little point in research on this, until we stop destroying forests, and peat-lands, as this is like baling water into a bucket with a massive hole in it!

            Why do you say this? Sources? I took a look at your links, they seem completely irrelevant, which is why I didn’t comment on them.

            Are you serious? You cannot see the connection between pumping CO2 underground under pressure, and the disasters on my links, which have happened from natural sources of pressurised CO2 venting onto land or through the sea-bed?

            Given the leaks of methane from similar pressurised drilled bore-holes made for gas-fracking, I would have thought the connection was obvious!

            Why do you think there is any disagreement(relevant to this article) between Krauss and other scientists? There was none in your links(which were popular science articles, not peer-reviewed papers btw, nothing wrong with that, but they don’t constitute research in themselves).

            They were magazine reports of peer-reviewed research, with quotes from the researchers!! (Have a look at the 2nd and third pictures on the “Acid Seas” photo gallery)

            MahouShoujoMaruin @25
            http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/08/110811-quest-to-capture-carbon-dioxide/

            From your link:

            The advocates of “direct air capture,” however, seemingly were dealt a blow when a two-year study released in June by a committee of the American Physical Society (APS) cast doubt on whether the technology could ever be cost-effective. Relying on data in the public domain, the APS panel expressed pessimism about the technology’s prospects, at least in the short term.

            Undaunted, air capture researchers are continuing their work toward demonstration of the technology and commercialization. They say that their own findings, some of which are not yet published, give them reason to be optimistic.

            The committee estimated the cost of direct air capture with chemicals at $600 per ton of CO2, seven times more expensive than proposed technologies to remove CO2 from a coal plant smokestack. At some point, it might make sense to try direct air capture to grapple with the problem of CO2 emissions from “distributed emissions” (such as those from planes, trucks, and cars), the panel said.

            But it wouldn’t make sense to try to capture CO2 from the air until CO2 was already being captured from concentrated sources.

            So like myself, the American Physical Society is doubtful that this can be a viable solution, and like myself, recommend that more urgent priorities should be tackled first.

            MahouShoujoMaruin – First of all, sorry about the mess of quotes, I’m not too happy about the software here. I really wish this site would return to the old bulletin board style.

            I use > and >> with double line spaces and some times a few … full stops to separate and space out quotes and comments. Extra > in blank lines of quotes joins them up. The “Preview” panel helps us spot pieces which are running together.

            Outwitted by fish-23

            In reply to #22 by Alan4discussion: Alan, calm down.

            I would not read much into the formatting. I am simply making use of the limited options for highlighting etc.

            The technology does, indeed, exist for removal of CO2 directly from the atmosphere. The current most promising technology (in my opinion, having worked on these systems) involves amine-based or other Lewis base decorated solid sorbents, as these have much more useful regeneration temperatures and narrower hystereses than the usual liquid amine or metal oxide sorbents used for point-source stripping.

            The problem with all the engineering ideas, is the sheer scale of volumes and energies involved in planetary processes. Many people simply do not understand the scales involved in dealing with billions of tons of material and planet-wide effects.

            The negative political factors are that deniers will use these projects as excuses for prevarication over the urgent actions which are needed on higher priorities.

          • In reply to #29 by Alan4discussion:

            Are you serious? You cannot see the connection between pumping CO2 underground under pressure, and the disasters on my links, which have happened from natural sources of pressurised CO2 venting onto land or through the sea-bed?
            Given the leaks of methane from similar pressurised drilled bore-holes made for gas-fracking, I would have thought the connection was obvious!

            Neither Krauss nor I were necessarily advocating pressurized underground storage. There are other ways, as outlined by outwitted by fish in his comment. More research could possibly discover other methods. The article is about CO2 extraction, not storage, although you can’t have the first without the other, obviously.

            So like myself, the American Physical Society is doubtful that this can be a viable solution, and like myself, recommend that more urgent priorities should be tackled first.

            Yes, but that does not mean they are against any further research into CO2 extraction from the atmosphere. They are just saying that with the current technology, it is probably not the most fruitful avenue for solving the problem, and should not be a first priority, which no one has disputed.

            Also note that

            Undaunted, air capture researchers are continuing their work toward demonstration of the technology and commercialization. They say that their own findings, some of which are not yet published, give them reason to be optimistic.

            and

            At some point, it might make sense to try direct air capture to grapple with the problem of CO2 emissions from “distributed emissions” (such as those from planes, trucks, and cars), the panel said.

            This does not sound like they are advocating no more research.

            I think the only reason we are arguing is that you simply read a bit too much into the article and my defense of it. No one is saying we should prioritize CO2 capture over everything else, or that it makes it fine to pollute. Certainly not. It is merely suggesting that we might one day reach a point where we are no longer releasing much CO2 into the atmosphere, but the CO2 levels are high from former pollution, and we want to bring them down, and it might then be an idea to extract it from the atmosphere. To be able to have that option sometime in the future, more research should be done now.

          • In reply to #30 by MahouShoujoMaruin:

            I think “locking the stable door after the horse has bolted”, comes to mind. Until the stable doors are shut and locked, researching ways for the public to pay people to chase horses around the prairie is a waste of time and money!

            It is clear we agree on the need for action to reduce CO2 pollution.

            I think the only reason we are arguing is that you simply read a bit too much into the article and my defense of it. No one is saying we should prioritize CO2 capture over everything else, or that it makes it fine to pollute. Certainly not. It is merely suggesting that we might one day reach a point where we are no longer releasing much CO2 into the atmosphere, but the CO2 levels are high from former pollution, and we want to bring them down, and it might then be an idea to extract it from the atmosphere. To be able to have that option sometime in the future, more research should be done now.

            We already know in what form carbon can be safely stored for millions of years away from the atmosphere!
            Coal is a safe and concentrated form of storage.

            In 2011 coal was the fastest growing form of energy outside renewables. Its share in global primary energy consumption increased to 30.3% – the highest since 1969. http://www.worldcoal.org/resources/coal-statistics/

            Total Global Coal Production (including hard coal and lignite)

            • 7678Mt (2011e)
            • 7201Mt (2010)
            • 4677 (1990)

            Until we stop digging it up and burning coal, finding ways of extracting and burying carbon is a waste of time!
            We can leave 7,678 million tons of coal a year in the ground for free!

            I think I correctly surmised, that you were not aware of some options (such as solar thermal systems).

            It is merely suggesting that we might one day reach a point where we are no longer releasing much CO2 into the atmosphere, but the CO2 levels are high from former pollution, and we want to bring them down, and it might then be an idea to extract it from the atmosphere. To be able to have that option sometime in the future, more research should be done now.

            That is indeed an unfortunate possibility. Whether an operation on that scale is possible, is still very doubtful!

          • In reply to #29 by Alan4discussion:

            Outwitted by fish-23

            In reply to #22 by Alan4discussion: Alan, calm down.

            I would not read much into the formatting. I am simply making use of the limited options for highlighting etc.

            My mistake, sorry. My reply was flagged as a response to #22, when I was actually responding to the suggestion in #6 that atmospheric capture was based on quicklime, as well as the tone of #11 and #21.

            [solid amine sorbents]

            The problem with all the engineering ideas, is the sheer scale of volumes and energies involved in planetary processes. Many people simply do not understand the scales involved in dealing with billions of tons of material and planet-wide effects.

            Indeed, it is a very large scale problem, requiring solutions tailored to the local situation. To wit: Point-source capture is definitely the best method when available, but for areas remote from carbon-fuelled installations but with ample natural energy (solar, wind), atmospheric capture is viable as a means of providing CO2 as a feedstock for fuel production or the chemistry needed for terrestrial sequestration. More specifically, large sun-soaked areas of the American southwest are well suited (low humidity, lots of sunshine, low population density) for concentrated solar installations, but require some form of storage. (Other than thermal, that is. Chemical storage is necessary to preserve the energy as work, albeit at less than 100% efficiency.) All non-spinning reserves have this requirement. Batteries have their advantages and disadvantages. As always, the particular local features of the installation direct the choice of storage strategy.

            As for use of plants for terrestrial sequestration: That has its attractive features, but is water-intensive (irrigating the desert is quite an expensive proposition) and achieves the sequestration in cellulosic form. This would be even more expensive to bury deeply, as you suggest.

            Worst of all, photosynthetic uptake of CO2 is very slow compared to the turnaround rates of Lewis base sorbents. Adding a proton source (water, if necessary, but more attractively natural gas or biomass if available) allows sequestration or recycle in reduced hydrocarbon form.

            The negative political factors are that deniers will use these projects as excuses for prevarication over the urgent actions which are needed on higher priorities.

            That’s always true, but doing the right thing usually requires a bit of a thick skin, persistence in countering spurious arguments, and an appreciation for employing multiple solutions tailored to the local situations. Personally, I find hybrid PV/CSP schemes particularly attractive.

          • In reply to #31 by Outwitted by fish:

            My reply was flagged as a response to #22, when I was actually responding to the suggestion in #6 that atmospheric capture was based on quicklime,

            I gave quicklime as an example to emphasise the problems with sequestration. As I am sure you know, if you overload carbonates with CO2 many of them become soluble bicarbonates, as in the natural carbonate limestone deposits on the sea bed. Ocean acidification, is illustrated on my link @6. Deposition of shells forming limestone on the bed of the deep oceans, is a major CO2 extraction system within the natural carbon cycle and if this is blocked as a feed-back, because of ocean acidification, any sequestration will be pointless with that sort of blockage in the cycle.

            [solid amine sorbents]

            Billions of tons? – Not some small pilot demonstration experiment.

            The problem with all the engineering ideas, is the sheer scale of volumes and energies involved in planetary processes. Many people simply do not understand the scales involved in dealing with billions of tons of material and planet-wide effects.

            Indeed, it is a very large scale problem, requiring solutions tailored to the local situation. To wit: Point-source capture is definitely the best method when available, but for areas remote from carbon-fuelled installations but with ample natural energy (solar, wind), atmospheric capture is viable as a means of providing CO2 as a feedstock for fuel production or the chemistry needed for terrestrial sequestration.

            We are struggling to provide substitute energy for replacing carbon polluting systems, let alone having surplus energy for terrestrial sequestration. It makes no sense to burn coal, oil etc to extract chemical energy, and then try to put chemical energy back into a sequestration process. Tropical forests and ocean phytoplankton are very effective absorbers of CO2.

            More specifically, large sun-soaked areas of the American southwest are well suited (low humidity, lots of sunshine, low population density) for concentrated solar installations, but require some form of storage.

            I certainly agree on this. There are also projects in Africa, but not only large scale ones. Local photovoltaics can give internet and communications, reducing the need to travel in remote areas, but really basic stuff like this (link) can protect trees and improve lives.

            Solar Cookers International (SCI), the sponsor of this site, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-governmental organization that spreads solar cooking awareness and skills worldwide, particularly in areas with plentiful sunshine and diminishing sources of cooking fuel. SCI has enabled 30,000 families in Africa to cook with the sun’s energy, freeing women and children from the burdens of gathering wood and carrying it for miles. Tens of thousands of individuals and organization from all over the world have learned about solar cooking through SCI’s international programs, education resources, and information exchange network.

            (Other than thermal, that is. Chemical storage is necessary to preserve the energy as work, albeit at less than 100% efficiency.)

            Geothermal and ground source heat storage appears to have considerable potential, although a wide range of options should be explored.

            All non-spinning reserves have this requirement. Batteries have their advantages and disadvantages. As always, the particular local features of the installation direct the choice of storage strategy.

            Solar thermal or lighting systems using steerable mirrors do not necessarily have to be Earth based!

            Znamya 2 – The mirror deployed successfully, and, when illuminated, produced a 5 km wide bright spot, which traversed Europe from southern France to western Russia at a speed of 8 km/second.[1] The bright spot had a luminosity equivalent to approximately that of a full moon.

            ..

            As for use of plants for terrestrial sequestration: That has its attractive features, but is water-intensive (irrigating the desert is quite an expensive proposition) and achieves the sequestration in cellulosic form. This would be even more expensive to bury deeply, as you suggest.

            I think fertilising phytoplankton which then sinks into the deep ocean, would be a better option, but burying wood or paper waste in old mine workings could help a little.

            Worst of all, photosynthetic uptake of CO2 is very slow compared to the turnaround rates of Lewis base sorbents.

            Photosynthetic uptake can be over a very extensive area and is often self replicating, with no manufacturing energy requirements.

            Adding a proton source (water, if necessary, but more attractively natural gas or biomass if available) allows sequestration or recycle in reduced hydrocarbon form.

            As in earlier comments, this is pointless if oil and gas extraction continue!

            The negative political factors are that deniers will use these projects as excuses for prevarication over the urgent actions which are needed on higher priorities.

            That’s always true, but doing the right thing usually requires a bit of a thick skin, persistence in countering spurious arguments, and an appreciation for employing multiple solutions tailored to the local situations. Personally, I find hybrid PV/CSP schemes particularly attractive.

            What is needed is a rapid shut-down of polluting power-systems and a rapid roll-out of the new technologies, most of which are already proven in numerous pilot projects.

            I put a link to earlier discussions @11 – from which there are further links. These issues have been well covered on this site.

          • In reply to #33 by Alan4discussion:

            I gave quicklime as an example to emphasise the problems with sequestration.

            A rather poor example, since you were discussing using it as a capture (not sequestration) medium. Metal hydroxides (Ca(OH)2, LiOH…) are single use sorbents, better suited for rebreather or other SCBA applications.

            As I am sure you know, if you overload carbonates with CO2 many of them become soluble bicarbonates, as in the natural carbonate limestone deposits on the sea bed. Ocean acidification, is illustrated on my link @6. Deposition of shells forming limestone on the bed of the deep oceans, is a major CO2 extraction system within the natural carbon cycle and if this is blocked as a feed-back, because of ocean acidification, any sequestration will be pointless with that sort of blockage in the cycle.

            Yup. Ocean acidification is a very nasty part of the problem, which is addressed by reducing the CO2 to solid carbonate. Carbonate formation is beneficial, since it removes the acid gas (CO2) from the system. Your thinking is a bit backwards on this, I fear.

            Billions of tons? – Not some small pilot demonstration experiment.

            Again, yup. This is why we need a variety of solutions targeting specific local circumstances. Atmospheric capture doesn’t replace point-source capture, it complements it.

            We are struggling to provide substitute energy for replacing carbon polluting systems, let alone having surplus energy for terrestrial sequestration. It makes no sense to burn coal, oil etc to extract chemical energy, and then try to put chemical energy back into a sequestration process. Tropical forests and ocean phytoplankton are very effective absorbers of CO2.

            Complete agreement, which is why using solar or wind power to replace mined petrochemicals and using CO2 as a feedstock for chemical storage hits directly on the source of the problem. Normally, CO2 is a lousy feedstock since it’s so far down the thermodynamic well. But, if one is looking to store energy, a deep “well” (thermodynamically speaking) is advantageous, rather than prohibitive. In other words, by returning the carbon to a reduced form, hydrocarbons become a zero-carbon fuel. Instead of extracting it from the earth and dumping it as CO2, carbon becomes a recyclable storage medium. Unless one is planning to burn the wood or eat the plankton, that usage is gone.

            [solar cookers, geothermal sources, and ground storage...]

            A bit of basic thermo: heat is the least valuable form of energy. Space heating or cooking can be accomplished using waste heat, but energy storage must focus first on storage in chemical or work form.

            To be fair, replacing wood or hydrocarbons for cooking purposes in the regions mentioned is indeed a valuable use of solar energy. For most large-scale purposes, however, using solar to heat food, water or living space is thermodynamically wasteful. The insolation arrives at essentially the temperature of the sun (thermodynamically speaking), and one takes a huge hit from the Carnot efficiency by using that energy at 100 deg. C. Alternatives include concentrating the solar flux to produce much higher temperatures, which can then operate Stirling cycle heat engines – Infinia Corp. of Ogden, Utah uses just such a scheme. The limiting temperature is then dictated by the materials of construction, typically 400 deg. C or so.

            Pumping water uphill (or in niche applications, spinning flywheels) are forms of direct storage of work. Batteries or hydrocarbon formation are examples of chemical storage (although with hydrocarbons, only 30% or so is recoverable as work – the rest is waste heat which can be used to supplement the formation chemistry or regenerate the sorbent medium in the capture process.)

            As for the space-based mirrors or burying wood or paper in abandoned mines: that’s more than a bit silly. Solar concentration is far more useful terrestrially, so one doesn’t have to chase the bright spot around the globe at 8 km/s. Power towers are already in use. Burying cellulose is ridiculously laborious and provides a very small and quickly exhausted benefit. How much space do you imagine is actually available in abandoned mines, worldwide?

            Phytoplankton are an attractive option, but I’d prefer to reuse the carbon rather than sequester it.

            Adding a proton source (water, if necessary, but more attractively natural gas or biomass if available) allows sequestration or recycle in reduced hydrocarbon form.

            As in earlier comments, this is pointless if oil and gas extraction continue!

            Pretty big “if”, there. Recycle reduces or obviates the need for extraction. That’s kind of the whole point.

            To put it a bit more bluntly: carbon is not an evil element. It’s the disposal of it as gaseous waste which is the problem.

          • In reply to #35 by Outwitted by fish:

            We clearly agree on quite a few aspects of tackling excess atmospheric CO2.

            I gave quicklime as an example to emphasise the problems with sequestration.

            A rather poor example, since you were discussing using it as a capture (not sequestration) medium. Metal hydroxides (Ca(OH)2, LiOH…) are single use sorbents, …

            Storage is an essential follow-up to capture.

            Yup. Ocean acidification is a very nasty part of the problem, which is addressed by reducing the CO2 to solid carbonate. Carbonate formation is beneficial, since it removes the acid gas (CO2) from the system.

            Carbonate molecules have another (metallic) part which requires a large energy cost for extraction and manufacture.

            Your thinking is a bit backwards on this, I fear.

            Not really! avoiding the problem by boosting natural processes avoids fuelling energy inputs.

            Billions of tons? - Not some small pilot demonstration experiment.
            

            Again, yup. This is why we need a variety of solutions targeting specific local circumstances. Atmospheric capture doesn’t replace point-source capture, it complements it.

            But neither are operational or likely to be operational on a significant scale in the near future. There are ways to deal more urgently with the issues.

            Unless one is planning to burn the wood or eat the plankton, that usage is gone.

            My point was to absorb the carbon and avoid burning wood. Plankton would sink carrying the carbon into rock layers on the ocean floor.

            In other words, by returning the carbon to a reduced form, hydrocarbons become a zero-carbon fuel.

            Hydrogen is also a zero carbon chemical fuel which is easily produced from water and energy.

            Pumping water uphill (or in niche applications, spinning flywheels) are forms of direct storage of work. Batteries or hydrocarbon formation are examples of chemical storage (although with hydrocarbons, only 30% or so is recoverable as work -

            Pumping water up hill can make sense in the centre of continents, but the direct use of tidal power or hydroelectric dams is more efficient.

            As for the space-based mirrors ….
            Solar concentration is far more useful terrestrially, so one doesn’t have to chase the bright spot around the globe at 8 km/s.

            The experimental mirror only “chased around” because it was in a low orbit. There have been various studies on beaming space-generated energy to Earth, not to mention manufacturing in orbit from space acquired materials.

            or burying wood or paper in abandoned mines: that’s more than a bit silly.

            Not really!

            Burying cellulose is ridiculously laborious and provides a very small and quickly exhausted benefit. How much space do you imagine is actually available in abandoned mines, worldwide?

            There are huge swathes of deep pit mines (for substances other than coal) where the land is back-filled after extraction of minerals. Deeply burying, (rather than burning organic waste), in sealed pits, would remove a significant quantity of carbon from the cycle, as a by-product of other processes.

            Power towers are already in use.

            ..and we urgently need more in sunny climates to replace the base load provided by coal.

            In marine tidal areas we need tidal turbines of barrages for this purpose.

            To be fair, replacing wood or hydrocarbons for cooking purposes in the regions mentioned is indeed a valuable use of solar energy.

            It will also allow the regeneration of trees which will store carbon in their structure for a few decades, where this has been previously lost to deforestation. .

            For most large-scale purposes, however, using solar to heat food, water or living space is thermodynamically wasteful. The insolation arrives at essentially the temperature of the sun (thermodynamically speaking), and one takes a huge hit from the Carnot efficiency by using that energy at 100 deg. C. Alternatives include concentrating the solar flux to produce much higher temperatures,

            I agree. That is why the newer solar-thermal systems use heat storage in the form of molten salts.

            A bit of basic thermo: heat is the least valuable form of energy. Space heating or cooking can be accomplished using waste heat, but energy storage must focus first on storage in chemical or work form.

            Again I largely agree, but would add that chemical storage can be greatly reduced by redesigning transport systems. Trains, trams, and urban trolley buses for example can run on electricity from overhead wires.

            Recycling heat with ground storage can also reduce fuel demand!

          • In reply to #36 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #35 by Outwitted by fish:

            We clearly agree on quite a few aspects of tackling excess atmospheric CO2.

            Yes, I think we are essentially in the same page. Now we’re discussing the font , so to speak.

            Yup. Ocean acidification is a very nasty part of the problem, which is addressed by reducing the CO2 to solid carbonate. Carbonate formation is beneficial, since it removes the acid gas (CO2) from the system.

            Carbonate molecules have another (metallic) part which requires a large energy cost for extraction and manufacture.

            Hmm. Yes and no. Crustaceans do it rather nicely by extracting the Ca from seawater. However… Many of them are distressed significantly by the acidification process, so how does one introduce the CO2 to their environment without killing the organisms.? Some surprising exceptions are noted, however. Llobsters in particular actually do rather well in elevated H2CO3/H3O+/HCO3-. Now, if I could only figure out how to farm lobsters in the Pacific, I could make a fortune selling bisque and do some good for the environment as well…

            [point-source capture complements atmospheric harvesting...]

            But neither are operational or likely to be operational on a significant scale in the near future. There are ways to deal more urgently with the issues.

            A valid point, but certainly not a reason to abandon those options now. The work is of value in the mid- to long-term strategy. IMO, of course…

            My point was to absorb the carbon and avoid burning wood. Plankton would sink carrying the carbon into rock layers on the ocean floor.

            I think we’re saying the same thing but from different focuses.

            Hydrogen is also a zero carbon chemical fuel which is easily produced from water and energy.

            Ooh, not so much. The inefficiencies incurred due to the Faraday current and the fouling problems associated with electrolysis are pretty daunting. Higher temperature processes avoid biofouling (but admittedly are prone to cokification) and make more efficient use (on a Carnot basis) of the solar insolation.

            Pumping water uphill (or in niche applications, spinning flywheels) are forms of direct storage of work. Batteries or hydrocarbon formation are examples of chemical storage (although with hydrocarbons, only 30% or so is recoverable as work -

            Pumping water up hill can make sense in the centre of continents,

            No, it makes sense anywhere there’s a usable hill, even in coastal regions.

            but the direct use of tidal power or hydroelectric dams is more efficient.

            Hydro can be (and is) used to buffer the grid. Tidal, not so much. Keep in mind, we’re talking about storage, here. Tidal is a nifty way to generate/harvest energy, but tidal ponds are necessarily in low-lying areas, so there is a very limited value in pumping water into them for storage. This is sort of the gravitational analog to the Carnot efficiency argument: More vertical rise means more energy stored per gallon of water pumped to it. Otherwise you end up pumping huge amounts of water to vast amounts of surface area. Another analogy would be the use of low voltage vs. high voltage batteries/capacitors for storage – the currents required become ridiculous and the batteries become huge if the voltage is limited to lower voltages. Of course, construction then becomes an issue, since higher voltages also introduce the danger of arcing/breakdown of the dielectric in the components.

            As for the space-based mirrors …. Solar concentration is far more useful terrestrially, so one doesn’t have to chase the bright spot around the globe at 8 km/s.

            The experimental mirror only “chased around” because it was in a low orbit. There have been various studies on beaming space-generated energy to Earth, not to mention manufacturing in orbit from space acquired materials.

            It’s still far less efficient in terms of initial costs and the necessity for highly precise tracking – what happens if the hot spot wavers into the inevitable trailer park nearby? I suspect trailer parks may be just as insidious at sucking in the beamed radiation as they are at attracting tornadoes .

            or burying wood or paper in abandoned mines: that’s more than a bit silly.

            Not really!

            Burying cellulose is ridiculously laborious and provides a very small and quickly exhausted benefit. How much space do you imagine is actually available in abandoned mines, worldwide?

            There are huge swathes of deep pit mines (for substances other than coal) where the land is back-filled after extraction of minerals. Deeply burying, (rather than burning organic waste), in sealed pits, would remove a significant quantity of carbon from the cycle, as a by-product of other processes.

            It still seems like a severely limited resource, but I’m willing to be convinced. Are you perhaps referring to use of open pit mines?

            Power towers are already in use.

            ..and we urgently need more in sunny climates to replace the base load provided by coal.

            As you’ve no doubt surmised, I’m in the States, and we have lots of it. So, as you’ve noted, do Africa and Australia. However, I can see the problem from a UK perspective. Silvering Stonehenge is probably not a very good way to proceed, even with the fun of ticking off the Druids. Again, the local environment dictates the strategy of choice.

            In marine tidal areas we need tidal turbines of barrages for this purpose.

            No argument.

            It will also allow the regeneration of trees which will store carbon in their structure for a few decades, where this has been previously lost to deforestation. .

            Oh, believe me, I like trees. But again, the turnaround time relegates this to a more long-term solution, and not one amenable to grid buffering/load-following.

            [Inefficiency of boiling water for thermal storage]

            I agree. That is why the newer solar-thermal systems use heat storage in the form of molten salts.

            I’m aware of these, but I still favor a chemical rather than physical approach. Latent heats are simply not as energy intensive as chemical reorganizations. (Yes, melting/freezing cycles are “chemical” bonds being broken and formed, but the C=O bond is generally much more energetic (approx. 100 kcal/mol, if memory serves) than ionic associations ; the “deeper well” I was referring to earlier.

            A bit of basic thermo: heat is the least valuable form of energy. Space heating or cooking can be accomplished using waste heat, but energy storage must focus first on storage in chemical or work form.

            Again I largely agree, but would add that chemical storage can be greatly reduced by redesigning transport systems. Trains, trams, and urban trolley buses for example can run on electricity from overhead wires.

            Spot on. Chemical storage is a centralized technology for use in buffering the grid (although it would also have some value in remote installations – the cabin in Alaska scenario or the forward mobile military installation. These are, obviously, on a much smaller scale than the county/state/national/global issues we’re discussing.)

            Recycling heat with ground storage can also reduce fuel demand!

            Again, I quite agree. Thermal storage is useful if highly distributed and used for space heating purposes. Single domiciles or individual apartment complexes are well suited to such installations. I have been considering a ground well heat pump for some time, but the initial cost is as yet prohiibitive.

    • In reply to #9 by MahouShoujoMaruin:

      I’m sorry, but didn’t anyone actually read the article?

      Yep! There is no indication of even where they are going to start credible research!

      Both here and on slate, all I see is comments from people who maybe read something on the internet once, but obviously they are right and the group of esteemed scientists who spent a whole conference considering this issue obviously have no clue…

      Some of us have spent more than one conference considering it!

      Yet people are so sure that it is not? Where is this information that Krauss and co wasn’t competent enough to find?

      Some of it is on the links I provided, @6, and on earlier discussions on this site!

      You know, I sort of expected better, at least on this site.

      Really? Better than what exactly? – or are you just feeling patronising without making any contribution to the discussion?

      Perhaps you should actually READ the links @6!

      @OP – This effort should not be confused with ongoing efforts to capture CO2 and sequestering it at its source, for example, from outgoing flue gas from coal-fired power plants. That area is important, too, but it’s already being explored, and the technological demands are quite different.

      But the storage problems and diversionary politics are much the same!
      It is a distraction from the real need to cut emissions, reduce waste, and get carbon-free power generation technologies in place as the primary source of power supply.

  6. Let me know what the solution is when it arrives. The only thing I see that can help us is a massive global push for nuclear fusion. Trillions of dollars spent, like we do now on killing people to protect oil interests.

    • And pray tell what do we have to show for? Production at ratio 1 I/O at best? Don’t you think that after fifty year research with 0 result it might look like a loosing proposition, that throwing more money might be throwing good money after bad?
      Oil and gas are the only available primary mobile energy sources with a high calorific content at present, any other sources are derived, secondary sources demanding energy to produce them with a net loss.
      The problem is to close the carbon cycle, removing carbon at source or beyond, and in the end producing a calorific excellent source like oil or methane biologically.

    • In reply to #15 by A3Kr0n:

      Let me know what the solution is when it arrives. The only thing I see that can help us is a massive global push for nuclear fusion. Trillions of dollars spent, like we do now on killing people to protect oil interests.

      Nuclear power has it’s limits. There is only so much Uranium in the world and it is only found in a dozen places, mostly three or four.
      We cannot nuke our way out of this problem. It could only be one of the strands of a rope bridge to the future of renewables.

      • In reply to #19 by zengardener:

        Nuclear power has it’s limits. There is only so much Uranium in the world and it is only found in a dozen places, mostly three or four. We cannot nuke our way out of this problem. It could only be one of the strands of a rope bridge to the future of renewables.

        Look up thorium and LFTR. There are other new ways of doing nuclear power as well. Many of the power plants today use old and crude technology. With new technology it can be safer, cheaper and cleaner. We could certainly, and probably will, end up replacing much of the coal and oil power plants with nuclear.

      • In reply to #19 by zengardener:

        In reply to #15 by A3Kr0n:

        Let me know what the solution is when it arrives. The only thing I see that can help us is a massive global push for nuclear fusion. Trillions of dollars spent, like we do now on killing people to protect oil interests.

        Nuclear power has it’s limits. There is only so much Uranium in the world and it is only found in a dozen places, mostly three or four. We cannot nuke our way out of this problem.

        Err! Nuclear fusion runs on Deuterium!

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuterium
        Experimentally, deuterium is the most common nuclide used in nuclear fusion reactor designs, especially in combination with tritium, because of the large reaction rate (or nuclear cross section) and high energy yield of the D–T reaction.

        Deuterium (symbol D or 2H, also known as heavy hydrogen) is one of two stable isotopes of hydrogen. It has a natural abundance in Earth’s oceans of about one atom in 6,420 of hydrogen. Thus deuterium accounts for approximately 0.0156% (or on a mass basis: 0.0312%) of all the naturally occurring hydrogen in the oceans, while the most common isotope (hydrogen-1 or protium) accounts for more than 99.98%. The abundance of deuterium changes slightly from one kind of natural water to another.

        It could only be one of the strands of a rope bridge to the future of renewables.

        Indeed – we are well beyond single solutions being adequate! A combination of methods of energy production and reduced consumption is needed.

        • In reply to #22 by Alan4discussion:
          Alan, calm down. The technology does, indeed, exist for removal of CO2 directly from the atmosphere. The current most promising technology (in my opinion, having worked on these systems) involves amine-based or other Lewis base decorated solid sorbents, as these have much more useful regeneration temperatures and narrower hystereses than the usual liquid amine or metal oxide sorbents used for point-source stripping. The challenges to be addressed include the useful lifetime of the sorbents (solvable, but still experimental) and, most difficult (again, in my opinion) the means of contacting the vast amounts of air to achieve a meaningful and less energy-intensive removal rate. Some scheme of passive convection, as opposed to forced convection, is needed. That’s an engineering problem, not a physical roadblock.

          Sequestration has its own set of challenges. I agree that geologic and oceanic sequestration schemes are stopgap measures, and both involve pressurizing the captured CO2 – an energy sink of substantial concern. Terrestrial sequestration provides the best option, either biologically (as cellulose, which you allude to as “plants”, or using algae to sequester or recycle in the form of useful hydrocarbons.) or as carbonates. The key point is that some form of chemical conversion will be necessary to get around the pesky detail that CO2 is gaseous/liquid/supercritical at all feasible sequestration temperatures. (Yes, yes… I am aware of clathrates. They’re far too (thermally) fragile a form to be considered realistically, in my opinion.)

          To be fair, geologic sequestration schemes often involve mineralization of the CO2 as carbonates, but the pH of the formation is generally problematic. And, as noted, pressurization of the CO2 to reach the formation is energy intensive.

  7. The real solutions involve using renewable energy sources, greater public transportation, reducing the milage of the food you eat, eating less meat and getting on your bicycle to work. Many of the solutions are cheaper and easier, but do not make the wealthy, wealthier and thus do not get prioritized. If you found a solution to these issues where corporate interests could cream the poor, you would see global warming solved in an instant.

  8. I get the feeling for some sort of technological fix, however one of the biggest problems is you are not going to stop the oceans absorbing most of it and cycling through for hundreds of years as the ocean currents travel very slowly from memory C02 being absorbed in oceans now will re-surface in about 700 years so unless you are going to get it out of the water as well….

  9. The public needs to know two things.

    1. In past, what happened when CO2 levels hit 400 ppm?

    2. why have we not yet seen those effects? The wishful-thinking public pretend not to understand hysteresis.

    I am so angry with politicians, most particularly Christy Clark re-elected premier of BC last Tuesday. They are like bimbos lying on the bed when the house is on fire, refusing to evacuate because their nails are not dry yet.

    • In reply to #26 by Roedy:

      The public needs to know two things.
      In past, what happened when CO2 levels hit 400 ppm?
      why have we not yet seen those effects? The wishful-thinking public pretend not to understand hysteresis.

      The last time, 3 million years ago, when CO₂ levels were 400 ppm (what they are now), average temperatures were 8.0°C (14.4°F) higher than today and the seas were 40 metres (43.74 yards) higher than today. We are on target for much higher 450 ppm by 2050. Because the oceans are so huge, like a huge heated swimming pool they take centuries for them to warm up, so the drastic effects will not be immediately noticeable. On the other hand, if we eventually take corrective action, it will require centuries for that to take effect too.

      http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0512-gen-lake-el-gygytgyn.html

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