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Carbon Comes Home

May 22, 2019

Any serious plan to solve the carbon problem, to stop global warming before the planet cooks, must include carbon capture. That’s because, even as we replace CO2-releasing energy technologies, it won’t be enough: The CO2 up their already will continue to bake the planet, with irreparable harm for ocean food chains. What will it take to stop?

Somehow we must take CO2 out of the air and put it somewhere. But who trusts pumping a gas down into the Earth? A better way is to build the carbon into carbonate (carbon-oxygen) materials that are inert, and even usable for building construction. This was a premise of The Highest Frontier, where carbon is reacted into “carb” that (ironically) builds the tall seawalls that protect coastal cities.

Project team hand weaving new carbon fiber architecture

Materials such as carbon fiber, and more are being invented.

This MIT lab claims to suck carbon into construction while releasing oxygen, like plants do. But building anything requires input of energy from somewhere. Can building carbon fiber be carbon-neutral?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is carbon.png

Carbon Engineering thinks they have a comprehensive plan for carbon removal, and they’re starting now, with a plant in Texas. Their plan impressed the New York Times.

So how does it work? Inject base (hydroxide) into air with fans, and precipitate the CO2 into carbonate. (Where does the hydroxide come from? Takes energy to make.)

Calcium carbonate (Where does the calcium come from?) is then packed into pellets, converted into calcium oxide, or pumped into the earth.  All these processes can store CO2, but they all cost energy from somewhere.

Ultraphyte thinks it’s great to start somewhere—but do the math on your thermodynamics. The laws of energy and entropy are unforgiving.

One Comment
  1. Robert van der Heide permalink
    May 22, 2019 9:48 pm

    And a nice big carbon-neutral nuclear reactor to power the process.

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