An updated proposal to store CO2 on Antarctica
Story submitted by John Tillman
Story body: In 1995 two Japanese scientists suggested storing carbon dioxide in Antarctic ice caves. Now three scientists at Purdue have published a more elaborate and detailed proposal along these lines, advocating 446 deposition plants, supported by sixteen wind farms, on the icy, katabatic blast-swept continent.
This dry snow reservoir could come in very handy in the future. When climate cools again, and atmospheric carbon dioxide returns to the oceans whence it came, humanity might replenish our supply, without needing to burn more wood or fossil fuels (which we could be doing anyway, to keep warm, unless nuclear or alternative technologies have replaced carbon-based energy).
CO2 Snow Deposition in Antarctica to Curtail Anthropogenic Global Warming
Ernest Agee, Andrea Orton, and John Rogers Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
A scientific plan is presented that proposes the construction of carbon dioxide (CO2) deposition plants in the Antarctic for removing CO2 gas from Earth’s atmosphere. The Antarctic continent offers the best environment on Earth for CO2 deposition at 1 bar of pressure and temperatures closest to that required for terrestrial air CO2 “snow” deposition—133 K. This plan consists of several components, including 1) air chemistry and CO2 snow deposition, 2) the deposition plant and a closed-loop liquid nitrogen refrigeration cycle, 3) the mass storage landfill, 4) power plant requirements, 5) prevention of dry ice sublimation, and 6) disposal (or use) of thermal waste. Calculations demonstrate that this project is worthy of consideration, whereby 446 deposition plants supported by sixteen 1200-MW wind farms can remove 1 billion tons (1012 kg) of carbon (1 GtC) annually (a reduction of 0.5 ppmv), which can be stored in an equivalent “landfill” volume of 2 km × 2 km × 160 m (insulated to prevent dry ice sublimation). The individual deposition plant, with a 100 m × 100 m × 100 m refrigeration chamber, would produce approximately 0.4 m of CO2 snow per day. The solid CO2 would be excavated into a 380 m × 380 m × 10 m insulated landfill, which would allow 1 yr of storage amounting to 2.24 × 10−3 GtC. Demonstrated success of a prototype system in the Antarctic would be followed by a complete installation of all 446 plants for CO2 snow deposition and storage (amounting to 1 billion tons annually), with wind farms positioned in favorable coastal regions with katabatic wind currents.
1 billion tons annually is what the proposal would store. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?
From the Global Carbon Project:
CO2 emissions from fossil fuels burning and cement production increased by 3% in 2011, with a total of 9.5±0.5 PgC emitted to the atmosphere (34.7 billion tonnes of CO2). These emissions were the highest in human history and 54% higher than in 1990 (the Kyoto Protocol reference year). In 2011, coal burning was responsible for 43% of the total emissions, oil 34%, gas 18%, and cement 5%.
CO2 emissions from fossil fuels burning and cement production are projected to increase by 2.6% in 2012, to a record high of 9.7±0.5 PgC (35.6 billion tonnes of CO2).
CO2 emissions from fossil fuel and other industrial processes are calculated by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center of the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory. For the period 1959 to 2009 the calculations were based on United Nations Energy Statistics and cement data from the US Geological Survey, and for the years 2010 and 2011 the calculations were based on BP energy data.
Uncertainty of the global fossil fuel CO2 is estimated at ±5% (±1 sigma bounds based on the 10% at ±2 sigma bounds published by Andres et al. 2012).
Uncertainty of emissions from individual countries can be larger.
The 2012 projection of 2.6% growth is based on the world GDP projection of 3.3% made by the International Monetary Fund and our estimate of improvements in the fossil intensity of the economy of 0.7%.
So, with 35.6 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted in 2012 (estimated) and China still going like gangbusters, does anybody really think the 1 billion ton sequestration proposal is going to make even a dent?