Scheme: ‘Electrogeochemistry’ captures carbon, produces fuel, offsets ocean acidification

A new study published June 25 in Nature Climate Change evaluates the potential for recently described methods that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through an “electrogeochemical” process that also generates hydrogen gas for use as fuel and creates by-products that can help counteract ocean acidification.

First author Greg Rau, a researcher in the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz and visiting scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said this technology significantly expands the options for negative emissions energy production.

The process uses electricity from a renewable energy source for electrolysis of saline water to generate hydrogen and oxygen, coupled with reactions involving globally abundant minerals to produce a solution that strongly absorbs and retains carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Rau and other researchers have developed several related methods, all of which involve electrochemistry, saline water, and carbonate or silicate minerals.

“It not only reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide, it also adds alkalinity to the ocean, so it’s a two-pronged benefit,” Rau said. “The process simply converts carbon dioxide into a dissolved mineral bicarbonate, which is already abundant in the ocean and helps counter acidification.”

The negative emissions approach that has received the most attention so far is known as “biomass energy plus carbon capture and storage” (BECCS). This involves growing trees or other bioenergy crops (which absorb carbon dioxide as they grow), burning the biomass as fuel for power plants, capturing the emissions, and burying the concentrated carbon dioxide underground.

“BECCS is expensive and energetically costly. We think this electrochemical process of hydrogen generation provides a more efficient and higher capacity way of generating energy with negative emissions,” Rau said.

He and his coauthors estimated that electrogeochemical methods could, on average, increase energy generation and carbon removal by more than 50 times relative to BECCS, at equivalent or lower cost. He acknowledged that BECCS is farther along in terms of implementation, with some biomass energy plants already in operation. Also, BECCS produces electricity rather than less widely used hydrogen.

“The issues are how to supply enough biomass and the cost and risk associated with putting concentrated carbon dioxide in the ground and hoping it stays there,” Rau said.

The electrogeochemical methods have been demonstrated in the laboratory, but more research is needed to scale them up. The technology would probably be limited to sites on the coast or offshore with access to saltwater, abundant renewable energy, and minerals. Coauthor Heather Willauer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory leads the most advanced project of this type, an electrolytic-cation exchange module designed to produce hydrogen and remove carbon dioxide through electrolysis of seawater. Instead of then combining the carbon dioxide and hydrogen to make hydrocarbon fuels (the Navy’s primary interest), the process could be modified to transform and store the carbon dioxide as ocean bicarbonate, thus achieving negative emissions.

“It’s early days in negative emissions technology, and we need to keep an open mind about what options might emerge,” Rau said. “We also need policies that will foster the emergence of these technologies.”


The paper:

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June 26, 2018 2:06 am

good luck

June 26, 2018 2:26 am

What percentage of scientists say that active removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will stop the climate from changing??

Answer :- ZERO percent!

Reply to  Dan Donnachie
June 26, 2018 5:51 am

Active removal of alarmists from academia would be much more sensible……

Timo V
June 26, 2018 2:29 am

I see, they are killing two birds with one stone. Wasting incredible amount of energy and depleting the planet of CO2
Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Reply to  Timo V
June 26, 2018 4:39 am

Three birds.. don’t forget the massive amount of money (government) that will be needed to implement.

Dave Anderson
Reply to  Timo V
June 26, 2018 8:18 am

Who gave them the right to decide for the rest of us what the “right amount” of CO2 is?

Another Doug
Reply to  Timo V
June 26, 2018 9:15 am

Four birds….don’t forget the actual birds that get chopped up.

June 26, 2018 2:41 am

“We also need policies that will foster the emergence of these technologies”

it says it all. Particularly as there is no mention of the overall energy balance which I suspect will be negative.

June 26, 2018 3:01 am

‘ a solution that strongly absorbs and retains carbon dioxide from the atmosphere’. It already exists, it’s called chlorophyll.

Reply to  NorwegianSceptic
June 26, 2018 6:05 am

right. just plant a tree if you want to pull carbon and make oxygen. Its a two pronged solution.

Nick Stokes
June 26, 2018 3:07 am

It is an expensive way of fixing carbon dioxide. A comparable process using lots of electricity is aluminium smelting, which produces about 58 Megatons of Al a year. Fiddling with atomic weight ratios says that the same electricity would account for 77 Mtons of carbon a year, turned into bicarbonate. That is less than 1% of current emissions. Of course, hydrogen is a byproduct.

dodgy geezer
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 26, 2018 4:55 am

… Of course, hydrogen is a byproduct….

Time and time again humans have been warned that it is not a good idea to push large quantities of a gas into a system when you are not quite sure of what the effect will be. If that system is finely balanced, you may hit a tipping point, and disrupt it quite badly – and if it is a system that humans depend on to live, the results of that disruption could be very grave.

In these circumstances the Precautionary Principle ought to be followed – don’t do anything until you are quite sure that the impact will not be damaging.

Now, luckily, we can be sure that the climate system is quite robust against the impact of CO2, since the proportion has gone up considerably, and we have had no dangerous runaway heating. But I don’t think we can say the same for the economic system, which is equally as critical to humanity, and DOES exhibit tipping points, which can be quite drastic.

If we were suddenly pump huge amounts of Hydrogen into the chemical market, what would that do to prices and production? It could destabilise things badly. And our civilisation depends on chemical engineering…

I am sure you will join with me in calling for the Precautionary Principle to be applied here, and all such experimentation to be made illegal until the economic impact of these proposals has been precisely determined…..

Nick Stokes
Reply to  dodgy geezer
June 26, 2018 5:36 am

“If we were suddenly pump huge amounts of Hydrogen into the chemical market, what would that do to prices and production?”
I think it would lift the market 🙂 But it seems likely that it could be used to reduce CO2 to methane, if necessary. Or make ammonia.

dodgy geezer
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 26, 2018 6:05 am

Alas, I have learnt my lessons from the Climate Activists. ‘Thinking’ is not enough. We need indisputable proof that the market will continue to run as before, with no disturbance of any kind that could conceivably cause distress to anyone. Failing that, the Precautionary Principle still applies.

Oh, and saying that it could be used to make methane or ammonia still runs into the objection that putting extra NH3 or CH4 onto the market would be just as disruptive. Worse – if we made NH3 we would suppress the current H2 production, which has CO2 as a by-product. You may be aware that there is a big CO2 shortage in the UK at the moment –

It looks like we are going to starve to death due to not enough CO2…

don k
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 26, 2018 6:48 am

“But it seems likely that it could be used to reduce CO2 to methane”

In the long run, there may be something to that Nick. In the very long run, our great, great, ever_so_great grandchildren will probably need to run a planet of electricity — wind, solar, nucliar, fusion .. whatever. I’m beginning to think that batteries might be so ill-suited to the job of storing the energy to run a modern civilization that converting electricity to hycrocarbon (probably liquid) fuels will be the preferred answer.

But many decades of R&D would be required.

dodgy geezer
Reply to  don k
June 26, 2018 7:22 am

You can consider any method of obtaining electricity as getting it out of storage of one kind or another – chemical storage or potential kinetic energy…

…but note one thing – it is very dangerous to store lots of energy in one place – especially if it is easily converted….

don k
Reply to  dodgy geezer
June 26, 2018 9:02 am

True enough, but humanity has a lot of experience with liquid fuels. Some are very touchy. But many of them are pretty well behaved. How often do we see an entire parking garage go up in flames even though there might be a goodly part of a billion BTU of gasoline/diesel potential energy stashed in the vehicle fuel tanks.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 26, 2018 6:21 am

Aluminum is useful and in demand.

June 26, 2018 3:08 am

Why not just plant more trees? Why not just dust the oceans with tiny amounts of iron to spur plankton growth? Build more artificial reefs? If the greenies were really serious about climate change ™ they would stop with the super climate change weapon programs, and promote the things that most people can agree with even if they know AGW is a scam, as trees are just about always good, and sea life could use a boost because global fishing is not going to decrease.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
Reply to  JimG
June 26, 2018 3:33 am

I think trees are not as efficient as dusting the iron-poor regions of the ocean with iron oxide. The effect is double: absorbs a huge amount of CO2 at low cost, creates a huge amount of biological activity, and feeds creatures that make shells. Those shells fall to the bottom of the ocean.

If the goal is to artificially set the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere at its recent near-record low, one can also ask what the ocean pH should be. If we have god-like powers to make and manipulate Creation, we might as well hold opinions on what the pH of the oceans should be. If we are going to be arrogant, no half-measures, eh?

Reply to  JimG
June 26, 2018 4:48 am

They will not only PROTECT COASTLINES from STORMS and EROSION but
provide FISH HABITAT for building up future fish-stocks …FOREVER !!
LOTS of the current LANDFILL RUBBISH could be rendered INSOLUBLE and
strategically DEPOSITED on the sea-floor , and just like the ships that are
deliberately sunk to create “dive-wrecks” , would serve a useful purpose as
a FISH HABITAT…….even CORALS would grow on them !!
Build OUR OWN BARRIER REEFS……..encourage tourism ! What a winner !
This would provide ( AT VERY LITTLE COST ) a resource that could be used
to benefit amateur and professional fishermen alike !
FRUIT and NUT TREES are good too…. but PASTURE and CROPS ARE BETTER !
Dusting the Oceans with iron-ore SEEMS hazardous to me in that there are
an AWFUL ( in every sense of that word ) LOT of people who subscribe to the
theory that “if a little is good , then a whole lot MUST be better ! ”
Small scale I don’t see it as a problem….large scale use worries me !
THE Scheme: ” ‘Electrogeochemistry’ captures carbon, produces fuel,
offsets ocean acidification ” IS ABSOLUTE BOLLOCKS !
Another VASTLY EXPENSIVE , “Promising….but FAILED ”
PIE-IN-THE-SKY scheme in the making !
A bit like Australia’s ONE DAY CRICKET TEAM at present !!!
( and I NEVER thought I’d ever write that down anywhere !! )

don k
Reply to  Trevor
June 26, 2018 9:07 am

Are end of life wind turbines suitable material for artificial reefs?

Reply to  JimG
June 26, 2018 10:49 am

Which is merely proof that it’s not about the climate. It’ about control.

June 26, 2018 3:16 am

I hit the link to the article and got the abstract and references, the paper requires subscription.
Nonetheless, their reference 17 is a paper by the same lead author, and gives some details of the chemistry.
Here is the overall general idea:
They take mineral calcium carbonate and through electrolysis convert to calcium hydroxide and carbon dioxide. The pH is adjusted and then the hydroxide is converted to bicarbonate.
Here is the overall balanced reaction:
CaCO3 + CO2 == Ca(HCO3)2
Overall theoretical energy cost is given as 266 KJ/Mol per net CO2 consumed.

Then, they seem to think that dumping the produced bicarbonate into the ocean is a good idea. Seems like that would saturate the ocean carbon sink.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  TonyL
June 26, 2018 5:50 am

Now where to find the calcium carbonate? Ah yes, the ocean floor!

Reply to  TonyL
June 26, 2018 2:21 pm

TonyL, electrolysis of mineral calcium carbonate is impossible because of its very low solubility in water.

June 26, 2018 3:21 am

This idea is as quack as a perpetual motion machine, say, of the first kind.

Reply to  Patrick
June 26, 2018 8:28 am

Um…no its not. It requires lots of electricity to separate water, and you can get some energy back when you recombine it. But, the losses are huge and attempting to store energy this way is years off. Definitely NOT perpetual motion, nor in violation of the laws of physics or thermodynamics.
This is just another means of electro-chemical energy storage. Many years ago I had proposed a “water battery”. The efficiency is not good. Recently some researchers from MIT posted a paper regarding an catalyst which would improve the separation of water into H2 and O2. This improved the efficiency, but still not to a level of practicality.

Not quackery, just impractical at the moment, and definitely “not-ready-for-prime-time”.
Environmentalist hucksters don’t seem the understand the concept of pyrrhic victory.

Reply to  rocketscientist
June 26, 2018 11:04 am

I wonder how well this process will work when powered by intermittent (renewable) energy. Did the lab experiments use steady (fossil) energy or intermittent energy? My money is on the former. If so, they are fooling themselves, and want to fool us as well.

June 26, 2018 3:34 am


Ian W
June 26, 2018 3:36 am

Perhaps the authors would gain from a course in Botany, then they would not only know that plants do the same fixing of carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide for free. _And_ that removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is a really risky thing to do as the amount in the atmosphere is only just sufficient for plants to grow well, reduce it and bring on world hunger. But then that may be what they want.

Reply to  Ian W
June 26, 2018 4:58 am

“that plants do the same fixing of carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide for free” Now how do you plan to get a big government grant with silly talk like that? Geez, we’re trying to save the whole planet here.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Ian W
June 26, 2018 5:51 am

And according to global warming theory, it would make Canada colder. Brrrrr.

Reply to  Ian W
June 26, 2018 9:04 am

Plants indeed do this well, but it is NOT free. They are using solar energy to accomplish the feat. Additionally plants require water and ground space to accomplish the task. These resources, land space, water, and solar energy any of which could be used for another purpose.
The attendant cost-of-opportunity must be factored as well for proper accounting.
While these costs (of using the resources for plants) in some regions are extremely low they are not zero, and in some areas are prohibitive.
We don’t ought not be as sloppy with accounting as we decry in others.

Richard Hill
June 26, 2018 3:58 am

One day someone will discover/create a mechanism for stripping CO2 from the atmosphere. Then we will all die!

Reply to  Richard Hill
June 26, 2018 4:55 am

Richard Hill : There ALREADY IS a method.
See comments by JimG above :
Just add IRON ORE DUST to the oceans , creates massive algal blooms , absorbs massive
amounts of CO2 , phytoplankton live and then die , fall to bottom of ocean taking
CaCO3 with them ( makes more limestone material in shallow seas ) and the CO2
level drops drastically , then to quote you “Then we will all die!”
Plants first……..animals next !!
(maybe NOT the cockroaches though !!?? )

I am too cold.....
Reply to  Trevor
June 26, 2018 6:34 am

I will bet almost none of the algae sinks to the floor. I bet a lot of dead algae floats as I am guessing most organic matter has a density less than water. Most of it will decay back into CO2 and water. A chunk will be consumed by zooplankton and enter the food chain which is OK but again I suspect most of this biomass will circulate within the top layer of the sea. Even what small portion does sink to the bottom will still be consumed by microfauna and flora before it ever mineralizes.

Tom Schaefer
Reply to  Trevor
June 26, 2018 10:44 am

There is enough CO2 being added to the atmosphere to seed iron in every major fishery in the world at an ideal level with no decline in atmospheric CO2. Please don’t adopt the left’s alarmist tactics.

dodgy geezer
June 26, 2018 4:39 am

The Underpants Gnomes have nothing on the Climate Change Fairies…

1 – Join a University
2 – Think of a chemical process that uses CO2
3 – ?*
4 – Profit!

* ? = Submit a Grant Application

DJ Meredith
Reply to  dodgy geezer
June 26, 2018 7:53 am

…. and you, sir, have stated the exact process now in place.

Reply to  DJ Meredith
June 26, 2018 9:36 am

DJ (and dodgy) you forgot the last step(s)- “Repeat 3 & 4 above.”

Tom Schaefer
Reply to  dodgy geezer
June 26, 2018 10:47 am

+1 for the South Park reference.

June 26, 2018 5:09 am

If this is such a great idea they should easily be able to attract investors, no need to steal American tax dollars. Quick! Someone email them a link to gofundme!

Richard of NZ
June 26, 2018 5:19 am

“The process uses electricity from a renewable energy source for electrolysis of saline water to generate hydrogen and oxygen”. That reaction would be a great revelation to the designers and operators of chlor/alkali plants worldwide. The direct products from the electrolysis of saline are:
1..chlorine gas
2..sodium hydroxide
3..hydrogen gas.
Indirect products are:
1..sodium hypochlorite (bleach)
2..hydrochloric acid.

Where does the oxygen come from?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Richard of NZ
June 26, 2018 5:44 am

“Where does the oxygen come from?”
There are alternative possible anode reactions:
2Cl⁻ → Cl₂ + 2e
2H₂O → O₂ + 4H⁺ + 4e
They could have fiddled with concentrations and pH to favor one or other. Sounds like they have CaCO₃ in the anode region, which would favor the second.

But it is very like the chloralkali process. It seems to me pretty like just making NaOH in the regular way, and then letting that absorb CO₂.

R. Shearer
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 26, 2018 8:24 am

And there is an oversupply of Hg available for the cathode cell. /sarc

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 26, 2018 2:54 pm

The chloride ion is mainly discharged at the anode. Oxygen is present as an insignificant admixture.
In the absence of diaphragm, cathode and anode products are mixed, forming hypochlorite.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Richard of NZ
June 26, 2018 5:57 am

Richard, do you have a reference for that? This suggests first tht the water must be purified, an extra cost no?

June 26, 2018 5:19 am

assume we have an energy source that produces no emissions and is relatively cheap to build

would we 1. sequester 2 carbon or would we use it to improve the lives of the many poor people on earth who don’t have electricity

well obviously 1. if you are the authors of this paper

Robert of Ottawa
June 26, 2018 5:45 am

Why is the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory involved in this? Have they studied powering their aircraft carriers with wind?

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
June 26, 2018 8:06 am

The Navy has been toying with the idea of producing synthetic jet grade hydrocarbon fuel aboard it’s nuclear powered aircraft carriers by combining H2 aquired by electrolysis of seawater using electricity genenerated by the carriers reactors with CO2 drawn from the athmosphere. The NLR guy in the group of authors of this paper is or has probably been active member of some research or feasibility study project team at NRL looking into that kind of thing.

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
June 26, 2018 8:21 am

Aircraft carriers are nuclear powered but the aircraft need fuel. Today ships full of fuel follow the aircraft carriers and periodically transfer fuel onto the carrier. The navy would like an electrically powered process that extracts CO@ and H2 from water to make jet fuel.

That way nuclear power and power the ships and aircraft without the need for fuel supply ships. Even smaller ships (destroyers and cruisers) consume a lot of fuel to power they helicopters they carry and the fuel is also used to power the ship. Future small ships could be powered by nuclear reactors and also manufacture the fuel for the helicopters.

The process could also convert excess renewable power to methane which would be stored in existing storage facilities and used to produce power when renewables cannot.

June 26, 2018 6:19 am

“The process uses electricity from a renewable energy source for electrolysis of saline water”

One wonders if these academics ever try their concepts?

Our military used battery operated chlorine generators for sterilizing water for consumption.

Similar devices are available to backpackers, firefighters, etc.

Even wiki recognizes this:

“The chlorine generator (also known as salt cell, salt generator, salt chlorinator or SWG) uses electrolysis in the presence of dissolved salt (NaCl) to produce hypochlorous acid (HClO) and sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), which are the sanitizing agents already commonly used in swimming pools.

Manufacturers have been producing saltwater chlorine generators in the United States since the early 1980s, and they first appeared commercially in New Zealand in the early 1970s (the Aquatech IG4500).”

More from wiki:

“Health concerns
Research has shown that because saltwater pools still use chlorine sanitization, they generate the same disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that are present in traditional pools. Of highest concern are haloketones and trihalomethanes (THMs) of those the predominant form being bromoform. Very high levels of bromoform – up to 1.3 mg / liter or 13 times the guideline values of World Health Organization – have been found in some public saltwater swimming pools.”

We are always thrilled to see safe processes suggested by CAGW supporters…

Rau claims his process increases “energy generation”, which is a sly hint his scheme requires greater energy than local available supply.

“He and his coauthors estimated that electrogeochemical methods could, on average, increase energy generation and carbon removal by more than 50 times relative to BECCS, at equivalent or lower cost. “

Rau’s delusional claim regarding “increase energy generation” is where Rau and his chums claim responsibility for the construction and expansion of renewable energy generating sources his process requires.
i.e. Rau’s dreamland requires substantial expansion of wind and solar farms; carpeting the world with land intensive short lived bird/bat killing infrastructure

N.B., that Rau never details his whole electrogeochemical process in the abstract; where Rau’s public relations focus is on renewable energy and alleged carbon sequestration.

The basic process as described by wiki:

“The whole process is exactly balanced by equivalents: the amount of chlorine produced is directly related to the amount of hydrochloric acid used, other things remaining equal. This could be represented roughly as follows (with the ions all separated in solution):

2NaCl + 2H₂O → electrolysis → 2NaOH + H₂ + Cl₂
2NaOH + 2HCl → chemical reaction → 2NaCl + 2H₂O

Net reaction : 2HCl → → → H₂ + Cl₂ (as gases bubbling off)

No carbon molecules necessary.

Amongst Rau’s references, this research is referenced:

“Efficient Solar‐Driven Synthesis, Carbon Capture, and Desalinization, STEP: Solar Thermal Electrochemical Production of Fuels, Metals, Bleach”; by ‘S. Licht’
“First published: 25 October 2011

Leaving us to presume that Rau’s process is dependent upon complex energy intensive process.

One notes that one of Rau’s references to research by S. Licht:

“STEP (solar thermal electrochemical production) theory is derived and experimentally verified for the electrosynthesis of energetic molecules at solar energy efficiency greater than any photovoltaic conversion efficiency. In STEP the efficient formation of metals, fuels, chlorine, and carbon capture is driven by solar thermal heated endothermic electrolyses of concentrated reactants occuring{sic} at a voltage below that of the room temperature energy stored in the products.”

How sweet! Isn’t that an impressive amalgamation of energy draining processes?
“driven by solar thermal heated“, Heat the process!

endothermic electrolyses“, Induce reactions that absorb energy, thus cooling the process? Triggering that endothermic process must require additional reactants.
Note the plural electrolyses, signifying multiple separate electrolysis portions of the process.

concentrated reactants“, Here is where they slip in that the process requires reactants to be concentrated. Concentrating the reactants in oceanic salt water is not a small operation.

“The electrogeochemical methods have been demonstrated in the laboratory, but more research is needed to scale them up “

Well, Doh!

These yahoos claim to have performed this experiment in a laboratory.
Of course, more funding for dreamland experimentation, so they can make far fetched claims via press release science.

Another example of; “Those who can, do.” “Those can’t, teach.”

It’s called a boondoggle.

Reply to  ATheoK
June 26, 2018 6:34 am

At least they used a laboratory, not ‘cutting edge computer models’……..

Reply to  ATheoK
June 26, 2018 7:57 am

“Our military used battery operated chlorine generators for sterilizing water for consumption.”

Is this a positive or a negative?

A hand held reverse osmosis device is cheaper to buy, cheaper to operate, works faster, removes more poisons from the water and the result doesn’t smell like chlorine.

Reply to  ATheoK
June 26, 2018 9:18 am

Why not use the renewable energy directly on the grid to displace fossil fueled energy instead of going through all of this energy wasting processing? You lose energy with every step.

June 26, 2018 6:56 am

Now all we have to worry about is making the ocean too caustic with this perpetual motion machine. Or the transcontinental hydrogen pipelines.

Bruce Cobb
June 26, 2018 7:14 am

I thought I could smell something burning.

June 26, 2018 7:28 am

Yet another expensive, energy intensive ‘solution’ to a problem that the laws of physics precludes from occurring. The opportunity costs of this foolishness are staggering. There are so many far more important issues to be spending money on.

Alan Tomalty
June 26, 2018 7:35 am

“The issues are how to supply enough biomass”

So now the greenies want to take us back to the year 1000 BC when everybody was burning wood to keep warm and for cooking. Do they realize that you could harvest all the available land for biomass on the planet and not make a dent in the energy needs of 7.6 billion people?

R Shearer
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
June 26, 2018 9:11 am

Fundamentally, that is the problem.

Paul Johnson
June 26, 2018 7:41 am

The idea here seems to be that we could re-capture the CO2 released by fossil fuels, but we would need an unlimited source of emissions-free energy. If we had that, we wouldn’t need fossil fuels in the first place. Nonsense.

June 26, 2018 7:41 am

Is a tree a “negative emission technology”? Because that’s not a new thing.

June 26, 2018 7:44 am

The entropy changes at each chemical step alone would make this process a loser. This is without taking into account the mechanical losses. How many times in a month do we see this same ridiculous, quasi-perpetual-motion renewable energy solution to a fake problem. It’s like somebody is using a fill-in-the-blank form to generate this fake research.

Ohhh…I finally get it! I HAVE GOT THE REAL SOLUTION! Here it is!!! You’re going to love this! …………. I have some little white tablets. They are only a $1.00 a piece. Toss one in the tank, add any water-containing liquid(🤔🤓) and drive 500 miles. Take along a case of your favorite beer to make the process even more environmentally friendly. Drink it responsibly. I can make beer too!!!! My beer will be the most efficient.

Why didn’t I see this before? I am a genius!!!! What should I name the pill or the beer? See you later, I finally have some real solutions to a deadly global problem!!! Maybe I can get a government start-up grant! Hey… Al… hold up a second…

DJ Meredith
June 26, 2018 7:51 am

Am I wrong again to be confused by the understanding that of all the atmospheric CO2, the anthropogenic contribution is some 5%, signifying that the whole exercise is far more an exercise in transferring money than an effective transfer of CO2, and geo-engineering has so far proven to be a great source of demonstrating unintended consequence….

Steven Zell
June 26, 2018 7:58 am

[QUOTE FROM RAU] ““It not only reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide, it also adds alkalinity to the ocean, so it’s a two-pronged benefit,” Rau said. “The process simply converts carbon dioxide into a dissolved mineral bicarbonate, which is already abundant in the ocean and helps counter acidification.”

How does removing CO2 from the air add “alkalinity” to the ocean, if the reaction of CO2 and water produces H2CO3, or carbonic acid? While seawater does contain salts (notably of calcium) that act as buffer solutions, precipitating them out as carbonates or bicarbonates deprives seawater of cations (positive metal ions such as Na+, Ca++) that contribute to the alkalinity of seawater.

Is the idea to use electrolysis to remove hydronium ions (from acids) from seawater as hydrogen gas? This would reduce acidity and increase alkalinity, but where does the electrical energy come from to perform electrolysis? Burning some fossil fuel at a power plant that produces CO2? In that case, this process actually increases CO2 emissions, because it takes more energy to electrolyze water than is liberated by the combustion process that produced the CO2 in the air (since all energy conversion processes lose some energy as heat due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics).

Industrial-scale electrolysis processes require lots of DC power at low voltage but extremely high currents of thousands of amperes, and huge rectifiers to convert AC from the power company into DC, which lead to energy losses in the conversion. The rectifiers are so powerful that nearby workers have to grip steel tools very tightly so they don’t fly into the rectifier due to the strong magnetic field.

The researchers may be able to get enough electric power from a “renewable source” to run this process at a small scale in the lab. But if they want to run this process at an industrial scale to remove thousands of tons of CO2, the only non-fossil-fuel electric power source that could produce enough electricity would be nuclear fission, which has low fuel costs and zero emissions but high capital cost.

Phil Rae
June 26, 2018 8:14 am

What’s the point of all this nonsense? The predominant ion produced by carbon dioxide dissolution in water is already the bicarbonate ion, arguably one of the most important buffers in the world. This solution of bicarbonate ions is in equilibrium with hydrogen ions, carbonate ions, and gaseous CO2 as well as large amounts of solid calcium carbonate, calcium and magnesium ions and a few other species in sea water. That’s why the ocean pH is what it is and that’s also why that pH won’t drop significantly regardless of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The bicarbonate/carbonate buffer system is intrinsic to life on this planet and helps maintain stable pH for most aerobic physiological processes of metabolism amongst other things.

As several other point out, electrolysis of sea water generates caustic soda and chlorine gas which recombine to produce sodium hypochlorite and this principle is used for salt water pool chlorination. I think this guy needs to go back to chemistry class.

June 26, 2018 8:40 am

“The process uses electricity from a renewable energy source…”

Yeah, right. Sounds green in theory but renewables can’t come close to meeting the electrical needs of the grid, and they think there will be capacity for this too? Sounds like they’ve indulged in too many recreational drugs.

June 26, 2018 8:42 am

“The process uses electricity from a renewable energy source…”

Yeah, right. Renewables can’t even come close to meeting the needs of the grid and they think they’ll have enough for this? I wonder what color the sky is in their world.

June 26, 2018 8:51 am

Removal of CO2 from the atmosphere? How about burning more dirty coal.

“We suggest that the surge of fossil fuel use, mainly coal, since 2000 is a basic cause of the large increase of carbon uptake by the combined terrestrial and ocean carbon sinks. One mechanism by which fossil fuel emissions increase carbon uptake is by fertilizing the biosphere via provision of nutrients essential for tissue building, especially nitrogen, which plays a critical role in controlling net primary productivity and is limited in many ecosystems.”

Wiliam Haas
June 26, 2018 9:47 am

Based on the paleoclimate record and the work done with models, one can conclude that the climate change we have been experiencing today is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control. There is plenty of scientific rational to support the idea that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero. But even if we could stop the climate from changing, extreme weather events and sea level rise are part of the current climate and would continue unabated. The optimum climate has never been defined and even if it were defined we have no idea as how to achieve it.

CO2 is vital to all hydrocarbon life on this planet. Over the eons, CO2 has been sequestered in the form organic matter we often refer to as fossil fuel, and carbonate rock. The sequestering has caused CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere to drop well below that which is optimal for life on this planet. The burning of fossil fuels is helping the situation to improve but to sustain life on this planet at optimum levels it may require us to actively convert carbonate rock back to CO2. So the last thing that we want to do is to actively convert CO2 in the atmosphere to carbonate rock and in so doing remove Carbon from the biosphere. What we really need is a scheme that will use solar energy to convert carbonate rock into atmospheric CO2 that will enhance global plant growth.

For those that believe in a radiant greenhouse effect caused by trace gases in the Earth’s atmosphere with LWIR absorption bands, the most important socalled greenhouse gas is not CO2 but rather H2O by far. One could remove all the CO2 in the atmosphere and it would have no significant effect on the over all greenhouse effect. To reduce that overall radiant greenhouse effect one has to reduce the amount of H2O in the Earth’s atmosphere but so far there is no effort underway to do that as if any practical way existed.

Another concern is that the AGW conjecture depends upon that existence of a radiant greenhouse effect that has not been observed anywhere in the solar system including the Earth. The radiant greenhouse effect is science fiction hence the AGW conjecture is science fiction as well. I am very leary of any scheme that is based on science fiction.

Michael Jankowski
June 26, 2018 10:01 am

“..The negative emissions approach that has received the most attention so far is known as “biomass energy plus carbon capture and storage” (BECCS). This involves growing trees or other bioenergy crops (which absorb carbon dioxide as they grow), burning the biomass as fuel for power plants, capturing the emissions, and burying the concentrated carbon dioxide underground…”

That is serious?

Tom Schaefer
June 26, 2018 10:38 am

This is an expensive, unnecessary, and wasteful way to remove CO2. Ocean Iron Fertilization can rejuvenate the oceans, feeding hundreds of millions, and allow for control on the CO2 levels. CO2 is a resource, not a problem.

June 26, 2018 10:44 am

How about paying grants to just think about it instead of another full-scale boondoggle? I guess they already do that.

Peta of Newark
June 26, 2018 11:44 am

Just madness. and in such a tiny world that they live in.

Think big.
Sahara Desert. Big. 2.2 billion acres of big. Quite sunny. in the daytime.
Mountains to the north. not many people around. not anything much for that matter
lots of atmosphere – 6 or 7 miles thick? That’ll do.
What’s not to like?
does it get windy there on a fairly regular basis, if yes, all the better

I think we’re set, let’s go…..
1. Plant your renewable energy (RE) system in the desert. solar and wind if its available
2. Use said RE to take chunks off the mountains (Atlas will shrug) and grind up said bits
(it won’t need computer grade ‘grid’ electric. any old ruffty tuffty will do to mash up a few rocks)
3. Use also some RE to oxidise some of the 7 mile high atmosphere. Ideally we want to make any old oxide of nitrogen (NOx)
4. Next bit may need a bit of ‘organising’ but we need water to dissolve the NOx into to make a crude but effective acid. Add acid to a mashed up rock. Doesn’t need a lot. (it releases a load of stuff including magnesium, essential for chlorophyll production – 1 Mg atom per molecule
5. Start near the top near The Med but eventually spread acid-treated rock all over The Desert. At least 50 tonnes per acre.
6. Let Nature take its course.

Alert readers will realise we’ve created what were supposed to be the very things that initially started Life on Earth – lightning strikes fixing nitrogen – which is THE Liebig Limiter for all plant and bacterial life on this Earth.
Sorry no, its not CO2 no matter what you imagine happens inside commercial greenhouses. Sahara desert is NOT spontaneously going to go green.

Assuming the ‘garden’ we’ve just made is as productive as Oregon larch forest – it should pull down 11 gigatonnes of CO2 annually. It might be ‘a bit more’ considering the solar input.
Maybe repeat in Australia – there’s another 10GT easily.

Maybe run a few buffalo over it and get back to a healthy diet for ourselves.

‘They’ won’t be happy will they

June 26, 2018 2:04 pm

This is before or after they turn base metal into gold ?

June 27, 2018 7:57 am

will require not only reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, but also active removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

Full stop at that point due to absurdity. Are taxpayers paying for this fake-science?

Nick Schroeder, BSME, PE
July 5, 2018 9:46 am

Above a pH of 7.0 a solution is alkaline and becomes more or less alkaline.
Below a pH of 7.0 a solution is acidic and becomes more or less acidic.

The ocean’s pH is about 8.1. That’s alkaline. Variations are more or less alkaline, not more or less acidic. The obvious reason for incorrectly using the term “ocean acidification” is a propaganda gambit to scare the gullible and uninformed who associate acid with bad, like alien blood and spit.

Highly alkaline compounds such as caustic soda can be just as dangerous as acidic compounds, e.g. concentrated bleach, sodium hypochlorite, pH 9 to 13. On the other hand: rain has a pH of 4.5, lemon juice has a pH of 2.0, tomatoes a pH of 4.5, and vinegar a pH of 2.2. If they get on your hands the flesh doesn’t melt and they don’t burn a hole in the kitchen counter.

A pH of 6 is a weak acid and its chemical reactivity is very low.
A pH of 7 is neutral and its chemical reactivity is zero.
A pH of 8 is a weak base and its chemical reactivity is very low.

A solution goes from pH 0.0, dangerous acidity, to pH 7.0, completely nothing/harmless, to pH 14.0, dangerous alkalinity.

A change from 8.2 to 8.1 is a -26% change in the direction of lower alkalinity, not more acidity.
But a change from 9.0 to 8.0 is a -900% change in the direction of lower alkalinity.
Applying percentages to a logarithmic scale/function is very dicey.
Makes the -26% look pretty trivial – which it is.

So, 8.1 is moving in the direction of slightly more nothing from 8.2 which is not much to begin with.

Improperly using the term ocean “acidification” to scare the public over bogus CAGW is a disgrace to science. Spit out the Kool-Aid and grow a backbone.

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