Carbon Sequestration

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Saturnine Pariah, Apr 11, 2013.

  1. Saturnine Pariah Hell is other people Valued Senior Member



    George Monbiot, Visiting Professor of Planning at Oxford Brookes University, wrote in his 2007 book Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning:

    "[E]ven if we continued to produce most of our electricity from burning fossil fuels, we could, at least in theory, cut carbon emissions by 80 or 85 percent. The technology that would make this possible is called 'carbon capture and storage.'

    This means stripping the carbon out of the fuel either before or after it is burnt, and burying it in the hope that it will stay where it's put...

    There are good reasons to suppose that once carbon dioxide has been properly buried in the right sites, it will stay where it is put...

    I have come to believe that this technology... can, with sufficient political commitment, be widely deployed before 2030. The difficulties I have encountered with investigating the other [low-carbon] technologies have persuaded me that carbon capture and storage - while it cannot provide the whole answer - can and must be one of the means we use to make low-carbon electricity."

    2007 - George Monbiot

    Peter Montague, PhD, Executive Director of the Environmental Research Foundation, stated the following in his Dec. 1, 2008 article "Carbon Sequestration: What's the Point?," available at

    "The ideal solution [to global climate change] would be to stop making waste CO2 by phasing out fossil fuels and getting our energy from solar power in all its forms (direct sunlight, wind, and hydro dams). We know how to do this today...

    Every engineer knows that avoiding waste is far better than managing waste. So CCS is fundamentally bad design...

    Instead of solving the CO2 problem that we've created, CCS would pass the problem along to our children and their children and their children's children. Basically, buried CO2 could never be allowed to leak back out. We should take responsibility for our own problems, not pass them to our children to manage.

    Scientists paid by the fossil fuel companies say the CO2 will never leak back out of the ground. What what if they're mistaken? Then our children will inherit a hot, acid-ocean, ruined world.

    Sooner or later we're going to run out of fossil fuels - all of them - so eventually we have to adopt solar power. CCS just delays the inevitable - a huge waste of time and money. We should skip CCS and go solar today."

    Dec. 1, 2008 - Peter Montague, PhD
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I think Montague is being unrealistic. The practical (i.e. political) fact is that everything we try to do to shift the balance of our energy production will take a very long time to bear fruit. Nobody (thank God, actually!) has the power to decide, on behalf of all humanity, to "go solar today". That's a fantasy world.

    In practice, we will need a whole series of expedient half-way houses, chosen for various reasons, good and less good, by societies with different agendas. CCS is one tool we can use. It's not great, for the reasons Montague identifies, but I think we would be fools to deny ourselves the use of it. It's the same with nuclear: it has huge snags re waste storage and weapons proliferation, but it does reduce CO₂ emissions. So we should use it, at least for a while, until other technologies can be ramped up enough to make a bigger contribution.

    Myself, I think there is a lot to be said for trying a wide variety of low or zero carbon options. Only time, effort and competition will tell which of these are going to be practical winners. We should not put all our eggs in one basket.
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  5. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    I agree completely. Not only is it unrealistic but actually quite naive. Far too many people immediately jump on solar power generation as the ONLY solution to our energy needs.

    And that's not all - the statement about expanding hydroelectric is, pardon my bluntness, stupid. Pretty much every single practical site for building a hydroelectric dam has already been taken.

    One final observation: a HUGE number of people - including some who should know better by virtue of education - issue statements like many quoted in the OP that actually indicate that their education has failed them.
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    To be honest, I don't think education in natural science includes teaching people about the reality of human affairs. You need to learn history or politics for that. So I don't blame the education so much. But I do think it would help if more scientists who talk about such things would think about how to implement change in a complex society. Change in the real world requires persuasion of the public and grappling with, or channelling, different vested interests. People with experience of politics, industry or commerce understand this well enough. Perhaps some others don't.
  8. wellwisher Banned Banned

    If everyone who is against carbon (liberals) would stop using gasoline, they would be practicing what they preach. They would be putting their money where their mouth is. They would stop using electricity generated by carbon fuels and only use wind and solar. But this does not happen, because the real goal is a dual standard bully.

    If I was complaining about a water shortage I would conserve water. I would not continue to consume water, while swimming in my pool, and then complain that others needs to solve the problem or else we should tax "them". This is liberalism in a nutshell.

    How about we have everyone define their position on carbon, and then we enforce that position with law. If you hate carbon we will make sure you are not being a hypocrite with possible jail and fines. There are enough liberals to carry the load they wish to impose on others besides themselves.

    We live in a world where liberals make bad choices that increase social cost, at the expense of those who never asked for these things. It is not conservatives who preach and want a welfare stat, yet they get to pay.

    Maybe carbon can be addressed with a rational strategy that requires those who want it, have to live by the rules they wish to impose on others. Lead by example not as two faced hypocrites.

    Would liberals be willing to lead by example? Or is it all about forcing others to pay?

    Maybe liberals don't have any real talent beyond con artists. They may need to impose upon others who have talent, since they don't have the talent to solve the problems they create. It sound like stereo-typical house wife who wants an addition to their home, but who can't swing a hammer. She needs to work the husband so he will do the work. He may have to work another job to pay for the materials. But she does not expect to sacrifice anything. She can't miss her nail appointment; liberalism.
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Very dispassionate and thoughtful - a real contribution.
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Sure! Of course you'd get into some serious problems very quickly.

    Conservative politicians who preach family values - and are then caught with their mistresses - would end up in jail.
    Conservative politicians who push anti-abortion laws - then help their daughters get abortions "because that's different" - would end up in jail.
    Anti-tax tea party types who push more spending on things like veteran's benefits would end up in jail.
    Conservatives who campaign against gay marriage - but support it once a family member announces they are gay - would end up in jail.
    Conservatives who loudly argue for torture of enemy combatants - but object to it once a democratic president is elected - would end up in jail.
    Conservatives who push for greater military power "to keep America safe" - but object to using drones to strike at US citizens - would end up in jail.
    Conservatives who voted for the Patriot Act - but whine about how it infringes their rights - would end up in jail.

    And that's all well and good, but a one-party system isn't good for the country. And with all the conservatives in jail that's what we'd have.
  11. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Leave the politics out of this, thankyou. This is the Earth Science subforum. If you want to discuss Earth Science, feel free. If you want a platform to spew politics, take it to the politics subforum.
  12. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    A quicker and easier to sell method of removing carbon from our atmosphere is simply just to turn it into life. Plants.

    This idea was discussed long ago on Sciforums.

    Use vast amounts of Ocean Space to grow Rainforest Size tracts of Seaweed/Algae. These lifeforms would remove Carbon from our atmosphere simply through existence.

    Creating this project would be an easy sell. Force Polluting corporations to sponsor X number of Acres of Seaweed to reduce their Carbon footprints to zero. It could be a good PR thing or Political.

    Now these tracts would be fed by wave operated pumps that take nutrients through tubes from various feed locations near shores or grown in nutrient rich areas and towed to others.

    Ponds with Seaweed/Algae have been shown to support 3X the amount of fish as a regular pond so if large tracts of this seaweed were towed over the Grand Banks and other popular fish zones we might increase the amount of fish for our own populations.

    Seaweed could also be towed to counties hit by famines in efforts to stave off mass deaths.

    Seaweed could be towed ashore for conversion into oils and biofuels.

    Once the Ocean is filled with incredible tracts of Seaweed Forests and the carbon is overflowing in our oceans in the form of green Oxygen producing plants ....

    THEN we can start discussing SEQUESTRATION. We will be able to tow Thousands of acres of Seaweed onto shore and bury it in a myriad of ways..
    A high population island can bury the seaweed in efforts to create more land space. We could fill quarries and mines and then bury it.

    Eventually we will want our oceans back and will be successful burying it all as suggested by the OP.

    Seaweed will cling to life on remote patches of floating debris. Designed floatation devices/balls connected with feeding tubes and plastic lines could be built from shore and pushed into the ocean from various locations/islands.

    I think it would be an easier sell politically and therefore much more practical.
  13. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    Beautiful! Lets make another huge impact on the planet without fully understanding the consequences and see if it helps or hurts.
  14. wellwisher Banned Banned

    We are looking for solutions to the CO2 problem. The bottom line of science is the math. We can lower the amount of CO2, considerably, if those who are animated/motivated by need to lower CO2, would lead by example, and stop using CO2 generating energy within their lives.

    If CO2 is seen as a social problem and we know gasoline and much of energy generated by large scale utility companies use carbon fuel, it makes sense to ask those, who have the best attitude, to lead by example until the technology comes online.

    There are 72 million registered democrats in America, alone. The USA uses 100 quadrillion BTU's per year, with fossil fuel related energy the lion's share. This is a cost effective solution that makes use of human resources and preferred sacrifice, based on belief, and could reduce the amount of CO2 by at least 20% per year, without any force of law.

    Leading by example, instead of by the sword, is contagious and others would begin to follow. Nobody wants to be forced by the sword, since this often means prison, slavery or execution. But if people lead by example, others will follow.
  15. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Here is a possible technical solution. If we increased the hydrogen bonding strength of water by only 5%, we can increase the solubility of CO2 by about 440%. One way to increase the hydrogen bonding strength of water is with magnetic fields.

    A. Szczes, E. Chibowski, L. Hołysz and P. Rafalski, Effects of static magnetic field on water at kinetic condition, Chem. Eng. Process. 50 (2011) 124-127.

    You pass the CO2 through the magnetic water scrubber, to increase CO2 uptake. Then you pump it downstream, where there is a declining field to release the CO2, for a more concentrated sequester reaction.
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    It would be even easier to just ask those who obstruct simple solutions to the problem to get out of the way and let the people who can solve the problem do so. Most of the solutions are fairly simple, and indeed are in work. Here's a short list:

    More efficient vehicles (including aircraft, ships, trains and trucks)
    Alternative energy generation including small scale solar, large scale wind and tidal
    Advanced reactor designs including modern LWR's, CANDU plants, thorium reactors and PBMR's
    Pumped hydro storage
    Replacement of coal base load plants with natural gas
    More efficient use of electrical power including efficient lighting, HVAC and motor drives
    Alternative liquid fuel production - sugar cane and cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, synfuels.

    Unfortunately there is a segment of the population who opposes progress on technology, biology research, alternative energy and emissions reductions. They have opposed every advance in cleaner air since the catalytic converter. They prefer to have other people do the work for them, then complain when they don't do it faster or cheaper. Just get these people out of the way and you've got much of the problem solved.

    They already are. Now just follow the leaders.
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    We can get net carbon sequestration from a combination of any number of land management, emission control, and end use conservation practices already familiar to us, and already rejected politically (everywhere, including China).

    So what we are looking for, apparently, is a carbon sequestration method that enriches Exxon and Putin and can be deployed without raising taxes on rich people or inconveniencing China's rulers. This is only partly a technological problem.

    Then we can see if, by enriching big coal and big oil and impoverishing ourselves a little bit more, we can do something about the mercury and the like. We can't sequester that stuff, but maybe we could protect whatever we will still have left unpoisoned when all this comes to pass.

    For generation at the present technological time thermal solar is the best bang for the buck on these fronts, by far, but it's politically hopeless (compared with the alternatives, the speed of deployment and waste handling savings alone almost pay for it, but these savings accrue mostly to the larger public over long times rather than the generation entities on their quarterly reports or the ruling entities in their immediate geopolitical calculations).
  18. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

    Plants are at their limit wrt CO2 density, they really do better with more CO2. Perhaps we should stop talking about sequestration and start talking about changing the albedo of the Earth.
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Some do, some don't. They are in competition with each other, and do not equally benefit from CO2 boosting.

    In my neighborhood, for example, poison ivy is one of the plants that gets an advantage over its competition from the extra CO2.
  20. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Not interested in your attempts at justification, leave politics out of it.
  21. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    As is common, prevention of a problem is cheaper than cure of it. It is feasible with about 1% of world´s arable land growing sugarcane to provide fuel for all the world´s cars needing liquid fuel - that would greatly reduce CO2 release - much better than trying to stop or at least slow the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere by sequestering CO2. (93% of petroleum is made into car fuel - gasoline now.) To switch to sugarcane alcohol car fuel would require more than a decade, during which the current trends (for example natural gas costing less than 1/3 as much as gasoline per mile driven, Electric vehicles, etc.) will (or at least could) greatly reduce the demand for oil.*

    If cellulose alcohol should become economical, just scrap from fire prevention thinning of forests and sawmill plus other already assembled in heaps scraps, could power all the world´s cars. Much of the world´s small farms could have their food and fiber production increased at least 20% by adopting modern agricultural practices and GM seeds. Thus even if Cellulosic alcohol is not economically feasible, the 1% of agriculture land needed to basic eliminate oil as vehicle fuel could have at least 10% more food and fiber from the 99% of agricultural land still producing food and fiber. US using 1/3 of its corn for alcohol production with lots of different taxes making that economically feasible and increasing the cost of many meats like beef, pork and chicken is about as stupid as it gets.

    For more quntative support of the claim ~1% of existing arable land could power ALL the world´s cars in about a decade see: and many earlier posts showing the same facts oil companies don´t want you to know.

    Note also tropical forests are being cleared (mainly due to rich countries wanting pretty woods**much faster than sugarcane production could be expanded. As sugarcane is a grass, it would require relatively little fertilizer to grow even on the poor soil often found in tropical forests.

    * Most of world´s use of oil for plastic production could also be ended too, but that is not the cause of most of CO2 increases (however flaring natural gas at wells is often done ~1/3 of NG now produceted in US is flared.) For example, BrasKem is now producing 400,000 TONS of plastic annualy from surgarcane alcohol, cheaper than from oil costing $90 or more per barrel from 0.0002 of Brazil´s farm land.

    ** In Brazil at least, a poor man, with no job living in forests, will cut down a single tree worth more than a year´s salary at the minimum wage. Then because if discovered he will go to jail (Some of the world´s most sever laws trying to protect forest and wet lands are in Brazil.) he sets fire to many acres of forest. After that some one will try to eke out a living with a few pigs and a cow or two trying to find grass to eat or etable roots between the burnt stumps an half burnt logs laying on the ground. Eventually some richer absentee farmer will properly clear the land and hire that peasant (and a couple more) to care for his cattle herd. - All comes about because there was demand from rich people and high value on one mahogany tree, etc.

    This cheap land is why Brazil has the world´s largest cattle herd. Sugarcane is too low in "value density" (much less than beef) to ship to where the alcohol is produced from it now. All those plants are realtive near main cities of Rio & Sao Paulo but if world were to run all cars needing liquid fuel on sugarcane alcohol, then new distillation facilities and pipelines to the ports would be build and previous forest land destroyed for other reasons could be used for growing cane as well as cattle.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2013
  22. eram Sciengineer Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps we could spend less time on the computer and this would lower our carbon contribution.
  23. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Not likely if you go joy-riding around looking for girls you can pick up instead, etc. Telecommuting from home computer to work prevents a lot of carbon (CO2) release but is a very minor effect compared to my suggestion in post 18.

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