Elon Musk Offers $100 Million for the Best Carbon Capture Technology

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Remember all those assurances we’ve heard over the years, that carbon capture technology is ready for mainstream deployment? Turns out the technology is a little less ready to deploy than some people would like you to believe.

From Elon Musk;

So what are the chances of someone collecting the prize?

Bloomberg thinks this moonshot can’t miss;

Elon Musk’s Moonshot Prize Can’t Miss

By Kyle Stock
January 24, 2021, 7:00 AM EST

Mr. Moonshot is at it again. 

Space and sedan baron Elon Musk pledged to donate a $100 million prize to what he deems the best carbon capture technology. The Tesla CEO wants to save the world of course and get a cheaper, cleaner feedstock to cook up fuel for his rockets. He also wants to bask in the glow of a little green Twitter buzz, which is often what these kinds of contests are best for. 

The so-called moonshot prize is a centuries-old tactic that falls somewhere on the spectrum between time-shrinking innovation catalyst and carnival barking. The difference is in the details. 

Musk says he will flesh out the details of the prize this week. If he really wants to move the needle, the money should be spread out and spaced out. Breaking it up into small chunks for early milestones will encourage long-shots and leaving it open-ended long enough will further incite the serious players. 

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2021-01-24/elon-musk-pledges-100-million-prize-to-crack-carbon-capture

Forbes reminds readers that there is no magic when it comes to the thermodynamics of sequestering CO2, though they suggest “billions of dollars from government” might overcome the economic obstacles;

$100 Million From Elon Musk Won’t Enable Carbon Capture

Brentan Alexander
Jan 24, 2021,08:10am EST

On Thursday, Elon Musk announced in under 140 characters his intention to donate $100 million to the “best” carbon capture technology, chosen through a competition whose details and judging criteria are yet to be announced (he promised further details next week). Funding for research and development of carbon capture technologies is most welcome, and Musk’s donation will surely lead to technological advances in the space. The problems, however, holding back the mass deployment of carbon capture are primarily economic, and a Silicon Valley mindset that champions disruptive innovation as the solution to all problems will fail to advance this important industry.

Carbon capture today looks a lot like solar technology 20 years ago, which was on the brink of growing at a rate over 500 times over the next two decades. Research and development money did not unlock the solar market at the turn of the century, rather it was the emergence of a viable business model driven by mandated renewable energy targets that allowed solar to rapidly expand and run down the cost curve, driving further growth. So too is carbon capture ready to make such a jump. Musk’s prize will surely help some firms further their technology and reduce their costs, but Silicon Valley solutions won’t create the market that unlocks carbon capture technologies. Instead, carbon capture is ready for its Wall Street moment: it will take the deployment of today’s technologies within today’s regulatory regime, supported by billions from governments, banks, and corporations, to demonstrate the business case for carbon capture and truly enable the space to scale.

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentanalexander/2021/01/24/100-million-from-elon-musk-wont-enable-carbon-capture/

Perhaps we should thank Elon Musk for letting the mask slip, for giving us a glimpse of the true state of over hyped carbon capture technology.

Nobody has a scalable, affordable solution, thermodynamics suggests there may never be a scalable, affordable solution – that carbon capture if deployed would be an ongoing massive burden on the global economy. Yet most advocates keep up the pretence that carbon capture is ready to roll.

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rickk
January 26, 2021 2:05 pm

I got two words for this silly competition….

WHY?

Scissor
Reply to  rickk
January 26, 2021 3:00 pm

What’s the other word? I might be able to guess if you had said three words.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Scissor
January 26, 2021 4:38 pm

Scissor, uhhh, would the second word be the definite article “the” and the third word begin with the letter “f” and be one can act as both a noun and a verb?

Scissor
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 26, 2021 4:54 pm

It would if you’re thinking what I was thinking.

Bryan A
Reply to  Scissor
January 26, 2021 7:49 pm

Best Carbon Capture Technology…
All true believers and Socialist Democrats should Hold Their Breath

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Bryan A
January 26, 2021 8:28 pm

Yeah, but then they decompose.

Bryan A
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 27, 2021 8:32 am

Only once though

PCman999
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 27, 2021 11:18 pm

bury them real deep

Ghowe
Reply to  Scissor
January 30, 2021 4:43 am

Dafok?

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  rickk
January 27, 2021 12:21 am

To assuage his guilt about putting 45,000 satellites in space.

Rod Evans
Reply to  rickk
January 27, 2021 2:21 am

I have three letters too, that sums up my thoughts on so called “carbon capture”
WFB

Paul Penrose
Reply to  rickk
January 27, 2021 10:00 am

I’m sure it is because he sees some use for that kind of technology on Mars; probably for pulling carbon out of the thin atmosphere there.

TonyG
Reply to  rickk
January 27, 2021 10:05 am

His recent actions are costing him fans with certain feelings about climate change. Maybe he’s trying to win them back.

Gregory Woods
January 26, 2021 2:05 pm

Hey! Man! Don’t mess with my CO2!

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Gregory Woods
January 26, 2021 3:05 pm

I like mine in tiny bubbles in my beer.

Bryan A
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 7:47 pm

Beer…the BEST carbon capture technology

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2021 6:02 am

Dr. Pepper is pretty good capture technology, too.

I still say the Dr. Pepper manufacturer is reducing the amount of CO2 in their drink. It just doesn’t fizzle vigorously when you open a new bottle, like it used to do.

I wonder if that’s the case across the whole soft drink line?

beng135
Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2021 8:38 am

Double IPA.

ResourceGuy
January 26, 2021 2:09 pm

…for the best tax credit capture technology.

czechlist
Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 26, 2021 5:46 pm

Musk should be investing in methods to clear debris out of low earth orbit.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  czechlist
January 27, 2021 6:03 am

Good idea.

January 26, 2021 2:11 pm

That’s an easy answer. Melt all the glaciers, which will increase the surface area of the oceans, which will then absorb more CO2. I’ll take it in a lump sum. Thanks.

David Sulik
January 26, 2021 2:20 pm

MARIJUANA PLANTS!

Bryan A
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 26, 2021 7:53 pm

Poplar Trees harvested every 10 years and stripped of leaves and branches AND the whole lot stacked in old Open Pit Coal Mines. Keep a couple feet of water over the top of the stack to stop decomposition. Once the pile reaches 30′ from the top of the pit, cover with soil. Perfect Carbon Sink. Eventually it will become a new coal seam

Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Bryan A
January 26, 2021 8:21 pm

Great idea. They can put the trees in as they dig the coal out like the way they do replanting for reforestation. Could call it recoalinization 🤦‍♂️😉

Bryan A
Reply to  Matthew Bergin
January 27, 2021 8:34 am

Recoalinization … I like it…

TonyG
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 27, 2021 10:06 am

Edibles?

January 26, 2021 2:29 pm

Just goes to show the climate scam is all about the monetization of atmospheric gases.

n.n
Reply to  Zoe Phin
January 26, 2021 2:44 pm

Single/central/monopolistic solutions to consolidate capital and control. The select 20,000 NG in a democratic/dictatorial fashion aids and abets its progress. Kneel before the one you serve. h/t NIN

beng135
Reply to  Zoe Phin
January 27, 2021 8:44 am

Then the Hollies will have to change their song lyrics to:

Sometimes, all I need is to pay for the air that I breathe

Last edited 4 months ago by beng135
January 26, 2021 2:35 pm

You won’t get any better than biomass which is 100% green and eventually recyclable into fossil fuels! Give me my $100M.

Pauleta
Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 26, 2021 2:54 pm

That was literally the first reply to hwis tweet. Makes sense, too.

Scissor
Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 26, 2021 3:08 pm

Follow the asphalt road (made from biomass). Just follow the asphalt road.

Bryan A
Reply to  co2isnotevil
January 26, 2021 7:56 pm

Biomass still releases CO2 when converted to energy and takes over a century to produce the mass that was Burned in a year

Reply to  Bryan A
January 27, 2021 3:43 pm

Don’t the alarmists consider burning biomass to be ‘clean’? Isn’t this why they promote poor forest management in order to get all that ‘green’ combustion?

ColMosby
January 26, 2021 2:35 pm

There’s nothing like overlooking the logical future energy generation technology ( SMR molten salt reactors) which are heap cheap cheap in order to spend untold billions on a stupid technology like carbon capture. Musk the Fool

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  ColMosby
January 26, 2021 3:04 pm

Right on cue Col.

Richard Page
Reply to  ColMosby
January 26, 2021 3:37 pm

Must update my adblocker – this one got through!

MarkW
Reply to  ColMosby
January 26, 2021 4:22 pm

And he’s back

Rory Forbes
Reply to  ColMosby
January 26, 2021 6:53 pm

Hmmmm … would that be iodized table salt or kosher salt?

TonyG
Reply to  Rory Forbes
January 27, 2021 10:07 am

Doesn’t iodine protect from radiation? Gotta be kosher.

Bryan A
Reply to  ColMosby
January 26, 2021 7:58 pm

And how many SMR molten salt reactors are producing MWs of Electricity today?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Bryan A
January 26, 2021 8:35 pm

You’ll notice that he never responds.

n.n
January 26, 2021 2:37 pm

Don’t be green, go green, plant. Don’t follow the rainbow to Green for greenbacks.

Save a bird, a bat, whack a wind turbine. Clear the Green blight, sequester the photovoltaic panels. Donate to World Walrus Foundation. Think of the cold unPlanned children!

Last edited 4 months ago by n.n
David Kamakaris
January 26, 2021 2:38 pm

Plant a tree, Elon.

I’m easy to find. You can mail me my check anytime.

John in Oz
Reply to  David Kamakaris
January 26, 2021 6:14 pm

The $100 million is not going to go too far with all of the people who think this is the obvious answer to a non-problem.

David Kamakaris
Reply to  John in Oz
January 27, 2021 3:55 am

True, OzMan, but thought I’d give it a shot.

Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 2:50 pm

Too many people see this challenge as a technical capture problem. That is, a better, more thermodynamically efficient capture process from the exhaust plume. In reality the crux of the CCS problem is a logistical, dispersed sequestration problem.

And it is the sequestration for at least a millennia for many hundreds to thousands of millions of metric tonnes of CO2, year after year, decade after decade until we finally wise up and build enough nuclear fission power plants. Anything less would be meaningless for the assumed climate CO2 problem.

The Dispersed Logistical Problem:
We have thousands of fossil fuel powered generation stations connected to grid distribution system that is both local and regional. It is geographically dispersed to ensure power/electricity is where it is generally needed without enormous long distance transmission losses. Florida and the East Coast cannot run on Pacific Northwest hydropower electricity nor SW US solar PV power for example (despite the bad engineering claims from a certain Stanford professor).

From large coal and nat gas 500 Megawatt units (x 2, 3 or 4 units) on a station, all the way down to now ‘smaller’ peaking plants at single Megawatt CGT powered generators. Now theoretically all these plants could use a portion of their power to process the exhaust and extract CO2 into compressed gas or liquid form.

Then what? Where does all that now CO2 go? Do they use even more energy to make it solid dry ice (which sublimates)? There are only a limited places that that amount of CO2 can be pumped into he ground an expect it to stay there. How does all that compressed (liquid) CO2 get there?

For any CCS to make any sense for Climate (assuming the CO2 control knob theory is correct), hundreds to thousands of millions of megatons will have to be sequestered, not just once, but every year. Sequestered somewhere, year after year. Sequestration for many gigatonnes of CO2, since it was originally gigatonnes of fossil fuels extracted and burned with O2.

We currently use trains and pipelines to move the coal and natgas hundreds of miles all across North America, to hundreds of different generator plants, where it is burned to make electricity. LNG tanker ships move nat gas thousands of miles across oceans to be burned. To where and how would the captured CO2 be moved to secure its sequestration?

Use the same LNG ships to take it (the liquid CO2) back to wells whence it came and re-inject it, you say?

LNG density is between 430 kg/m³ and 470 kg/m³ (let’s assume 440 kg/m³) at its cryogenic temp of -160 ºC. Liquid CO2 is 1101 kg/m³ when the liquid is at full saturation at -37 °C. That’s 2.5 times as dense. So two LNG tanker loads (weight equivalent) of LNG produces 5 tanker loads (weight equivalent) of liquid CO2 to send back to the well head. (By weight equivalent, I mean the tanker ships are weight limited for both port keel depth and safe sailing at sea use). That math doesn’t work, unless you send the tankers out at only 40% full of LNG, a pretty wasteful use of bunker fuel. (but then everything about CCS is wasteful IMO)

Returning liquid CO2 via ships MIGHT be workable for Japan or Korea that are now getting lots of LNG from the Timor Sea via Darwin LNG port. Won’t work in North America.

Conclusion:
The entire CCS issue is just bad engineering with no workable way to sequester for a millennia the gigatonnes of CO2 produced every year from even the best capture technology. The answer is to let nature continue to deal with sequestration of our CO2 emissions and work vigorously on a National Energy Strategy of nuclear power build out.

Last edited 4 months ago by joelobryan
fred250
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 3:05 pm

If they want to capture for a specific purpose, no problems

But WASTING TIME and MONEY by capturing and pretending to hide it away somewhere , ..

…. is the UTMOST IDIOCY.

Last edited 4 months ago by fred250
Reply to  fred250
January 26, 2021 3:16 pm

Carbon Dioxide in volume is a scarce valuable chemical commodity. It is used by the oil industry for Enhance Oil Recovery from depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs.
Now you know another reason Big Oil likes AGW, get the tax payer to fund the supply of this useful chemical feed stock and obtain more oil as a consequence.
A definite Win for Big Oil.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 3:13 pm

In just the Texas state waters, there’s enough geological storage capacity for about 100 years worth of current US CO2 emissions from electricity generation.

If we started drilling injection wells at the same rate we have been drilling oil & gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico, we could inject about 60 years worth of current US CO2 emissions from electricity generation by 2050.

It’s not a technology or engineering issue. It’s an economic issue… And there’s no exiting regulatory framework in the Gulf of Mexico.

https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/bitstream/handle/2152/74909/GCCCPub2019-7.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y

Scissor
Reply to  David Middleton
January 26, 2021 5:06 pm

Say Bill Gates proposed a project for 1000 or so Mt CO2 to be injected. What would that cost him roughly, assuming he is going to get taxpayers to pay for it?

Reply to  Scissor
January 27, 2021 4:25 am

It depends on a lot of variables… But it would probably cost more than the 45Q tax credit is worth.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  David Middleton
January 26, 2021 5:18 pm

As I stated, the real crux of the CCS problem is a logistical problem to sequester millions of tons of dispersed source CO2 every year for decades. Across North America there are many hundreds of generation sites that would have to capture CO2 emissions in a Net Zero (insane) world. There are actually thousands if all of the coal and nat gas electrical generation stations want to stay in-business in a Net Zero world.

CCS at continental-US economy scale makes nuclear power very attractive. The only alternative is intermittent, recurring electricity black-outs lasting days or weeks when wind and solar fail, as they always do. That alternative also will send manufacturing industry and its jobs overseas. CCS is just another scheme to bring smiles to every CCP commie.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 5:42 pm

The oil & gas industry could actually drill and operate enough injection wells to sequester pretty well all of the CO2 emissions from point sources in the US.

It’s not even a logistics issue. It’s a $$$ issue. If government makes carbon expensive enough through taxes and subsidies, it will happen.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  David Middleton
January 26, 2021 5:58 pm

Regional, recurring blackouts will happen before California, New York NIMBY bedwetters allows injection wells to be drilled on site or near all of their generating stations. The generating stations will just shut down first. Then there’s nothing to capture or sequester.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 27, 2021 3:20 am

Most of the injection wells won’t be near sites in New York or California. The greater obstacle there will be opposition to CO2 pipelines. However, there are two commercial CCS sites under development in southern California and a couple of pilot projects in the New York area.

Most, if not all, of the CCS/CCUS will be in the Permian Basin, Williston Basin, Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico regions. In the Gulf of Mexico, there is no NIMBY’ism.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 27, 2021 6:32 am

“Net Zero (insane) world”

That’s another way to put it. A more accurate way.

Richard Page
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 3:42 pm

I’m more concerned with what might happen if the containment fails. Large quantities of CO2 gas escaping into a population centre would be lethal.

Reply to  Richard Page
January 26, 2021 4:00 pm

The geological containment being used for CO2 EOR and envisioned for CCS contained oil & gas for 100′ of thousands to 10’s of millions of years.

The only significant risk would be blowouts of injection wells, which are extremely rare. The advantage to the Gulf of Mexico is that there aren’t many population centers in the Gulf of Mexico… Minimizing NIMBY’ism.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 26, 2021 5:54 pm

Put in geological formations (porous sandstones under salt domes) at those pressures the injected CO2 forms mineral carbonates pretty quick. At least from experiments done as I’ve read them.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 27, 2021 4:26 am

Lake Nyos isn’t a guide for anything other than lakes like Lake Nyos.

gringojay
January 26, 2021 2:58 pm

Cheapest approach is to decree every politician double face mask in perpetuity. Those carbon based gas bags will still be spouting malarkey, but they’ll retain more CO2.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  gringojay
January 26, 2021 3:11 pm

Fauci literally just pulled his “double mask” advice out of his ass not his brain. No science required apparently now. Just virtue signaling.
If one is good, two is better malarkey (as Dementia Joe might say>

DonM
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 3:59 pm

One is required. Two is better. Logically then, I can wear two for 5 days a week and then I don’t have to wear any on the weekend … and I am just as safe & socially responsible as anyone else.

gringojay
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 4:57 pm

I notice a news report today which specifies Herr Fauci is the highest paid government employee, whose last known salary of 2019 was US$417,608. As a character American comedian Mel Brooks played in one of his movies said – “It’s good to be The King!”

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 8:43 pm

>90% of people wearing masks in public are wearing the wrong kinds of masks, and wearing them mostly incorrectly. Ergo, masks have been a joke this entire time.

And wearing two of the wrong kinds of masks the wrong way is doubleplusstupid.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 27, 2021 3:26 am

The worst thing about masks is that I feel like I’m trying to order form the drive thru… It sounds like everyone is saying, “Do you want fries with that?”

I never realized that reading lips was such a significant part of understanding what people are saying. One of my coworkers insists on wearing two masks and he sounds like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoon.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  David Middleton
January 27, 2021 6:47 am

You can buy masks that have a clear plastic face that allows you to see the lips and facial expressions. They are not N95 quality masks, they are KN95, which is slightly less protective, but it appears most people are wearing inferior masks anyway.

I thought I heard a news blurb yesterday about some area moving to require that all people wear N95 masks. That would definitely be a plus as far as mask wearing goes. Some of the masks people wear are pretty ridiculous.

You can’t hardly buy an N95 mask right now. They are reserved for healthcare workers. I lucked out and bought a box of N95 masks a couple of years ago for another purpose, and I still have some to wear.

Someone could make themselves a lot of money by going into the N95 mask manufacturing business right about now.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 27, 2021 8:36 am

I saw two different women wearing lace masks…

Ferdberple
Reply to  gringojay
January 27, 2021 8:43 am

If 2 masks are better than 1, why not 3? Why not 100? It would surely stop the spread.

TonyG
Reply to  gringojay
January 27, 2021 10:10 am

decree every politician double face mask in perpetuity

Only if the inner mask is made of duct tape.

gbaikie
January 26, 2021 3:06 pm

It’s not technological answer, unless growing trees is technological.
The political path, would be to green the Sahara Desert.
But if get more global warming, the Sahara desert could naturally, green.
Or back in a warmer period, it was grassland and forests.
Some people imagine it was human activity which caused the Sahara desert,
but most know it was due to global cooling.

Ice Ages have drier air. We in an Ice Age, and during warmer parts of interglacial
periods, the Sahara desert, greens, as was the case many thousands of years ago.

Is there technological way of making Sahara desert, into a a forest region?
Sure, and fairly primitive technology could work, but it would involve politics.
But one could wonder how much land would need and how much 100 million dollars
buys in terms of land and rights to do it. But I am roughly talking using money to alter political opinion. I think it could have to do with, Qattara Depression Project, wiki“The Qattara Depression Project, or Qattara Project for short, is a macro-engineering project concept in Egypt. Rivalling the Aswan High Dam in scope, the intention is to develop the hydroelectric potential of the Qattara Depression by creating an artificial lake.”
But basically bring in lots sea water, and use “solar energy” by which I mean use solar ponds type solar energy and mine sea water rather have salt waste problem, and get a lot freshwater from it. Or there is lot of water under Sahara desert, but that being used and ii is a finite resource, whereas sea water is not finite resource.

But a perhaps a more crazy idea and actually technological issue, is to make nuclear power tugs. And drag ice burgs to deserts, but would pick Saudi Arabia deserts or Australia deserts. And either could have less political problems. Though with Qattara Depression Project one could use boring technology.

It is also said the use of cattle can used to reduce desert area.
Again, not very technological.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  gbaikie
January 26, 2021 6:16 pm

ocean fertilization would be far more effective, both in costs and effect, than trying to green the Sahara.
Ocean fertilization over large swaths from iron, phosphate and ammonium, dispersed from loaded ore carriers, would create huge phytoplankton blooms, and much of the resulting biomass would sink into the deep oceans as carbonate snowfall.

gbaikie
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 8:24 pm

Well, that could involve technology. It is often mentioned and seems to be some kind weak and stupid arguments against it, but how exactly does one unload such oceanic fertilizer into the ocean?
Google it:
Self-unloading vessels can discharge dry-bulk cargo at an unimproved dock without assistance from any shore-side equipment or shore-side personnel. Because they do not require any land-based assistance, these vessels can literally arrive in the middle of the night, discharge their cargo, and depart before daybreak. They are capable of transporting and unloading almost any free-flowing, dry-bulk commodity, including iron ore, coal, limestone, sand, gypsum, and grain. ASC’s self-unloaders range in size from 635 feet to 1,000 feet, transport anywhere from 18,000 to 70,000 tons per trip, and can self-discharge cargo at rates up to 10,000 tons per hour.”

Oh, I guess that would work. So out several hundred mile, unload all in less than 24 hours {or 8 hours}, and go back for more. Or about 4-5 day turnaround time.

It seems 13 small scale attempts and seeing any conclusive results:
https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000190674

Sites of the 13 iron fertilization experiments
Other:
“To date none of the major ocean fertilization experiments have verified that a significant amount of deep ocean carbon sequestration occurs. Some scientists have suggested that verification may require more massive and more permanent experiments. Together with commercial operators they plan to go ahead with large-scale and more permanent ocean fertilization experiments and note that potential negative environmental consequences must be balanced against the harm expected due to ignoring climate change.”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071129132753.htm

Not sure what meant by small scale, I would call 18,000 to 70,000 tons as small scale.
And month spent with turnaround time of 4-5 days of filling and dumping of 18,000 to 70,000 tons as a significant experiment.
And if want to do something about fish stocks, do it continuously.
And if want do anything to reduce CO2 levels, then times that by at least 10.

But 70% of all volcanic activity is in the ocean and this putting kinds material in the Ocean, not mention all river and glacial discharge which has going on millions of years. And we have vast parts of Ocean which called sterile due to lack fertilization.
If it’s cheaper, than trees in Sahara Desert, one would need to know scale of the operation which makes any measurable difference. But it seems increasing fish stocks could much lower scale and one is “putting food on the table”.
(yellow/green, high; dark blue, low).

HAS
January 26, 2021 3:10 pm

“thermodynamics suggests there may never be a scalable, affordable solution – that carbon capture if deployed would be an ongoing massive burden on the global economy”

Nothing in thermodynamics that I’m aware of that says CCS/U won’t be economic at scale compared with the CO2-e emissions charges that are being contemplated.

HAS
Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 27, 2021 12:26 am

I think you’ll find the geothermal and petrochemical industries, that do this routinely, will have taken the prize.

Scissor
Reply to  HAS
January 26, 2021 5:09 pm

One could do enhance oil recovery in a perpetual motion kind of way, leaving the CO2 in the field after economic amounts of oil were recovered.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Scissor
January 26, 2021 5:45 pm

But why would anyone want to do that? CO2 greening has proven to be a great benefit and notwithstanding over 100 years of non stop bickering about the warming effects of CO2, there’s really no evidence that the human contribution can be measured. It’s still just conjecture. Besides, I see no down side to a slightly warmer world.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Scissor
January 26, 2021 6:34 pm

That is exactly what we are doing here in AB
Pump CO2 into the “depleted” conventional oil field, once it is producing properly they extend the line to the next field, and on.
That is what the Carbon Trunk line is supposed to do.
Oil extraction is by ESP, any CO2 that comes up is separated and reinjected

Will it all work economically? I don’t know but carbon tax upends rational economics

HAS
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 27, 2021 12:32 am

As noted above it is done and this increases the yields. A bit of the old CO2-e pricing will no doubt encourage the behaviour.

HAS
Reply to  Scissor
January 27, 2021 12:28 am

Somewhat surprisingly this is what is sometimes done, but nothing to do with perpetual motion.

Jean Parisot
January 26, 2021 3:17 pm

Isn’t the best carbon capture technology for Elon – “Buy More Tesla’s”?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Jean Parisot
January 26, 2021 5:24 pm

Having just left blackout prone California, Musk understands that wind and solar can’t charge people’s Tesla’s at night.

Stephen Skinner
January 26, 2021 3:36 pm

Considering nature circulates something like 750 gigatons of CO2 annually and humans release something 27 gigatons annually then what is the point of CO2 capture or is it something like Covid Zero?

Tom in Florida
January 26, 2021 3:49 pm

C12H22O11
Put in your coffee of tea. I win.

Scissor
Reply to  Tom in Florida
January 26, 2021 5:11 pm

Sweet. Amazing number of isomers.

Bryan A
Reply to  Tom in Florida
January 27, 2021 9:52 am

And if you remove the “C”, you have Water

Gordon A. Dressler
January 26, 2021 3:54 pm

Trees. trees, trees!

Was I first? Do I win $100 million.

Alex
January 26, 2021 3:59 pm

Why should 10 Gt of carbon equivalent of CO2 released annually into the atmosphere and hydrosphere make a dent in their combined 38,000 Gt ? Can someone please explain.

PaulH
January 26, 2021 4:02 pm

The tweet says “carbon capture”, so maybe he doesn’t mean carbon dioxide? 😏

Reply to  PaulH
January 27, 2021 4:28 am

“Carbon capture” (CCS) refers to carbon-based greenhouse gases. ~99% of which are CO2.

January 26, 2021 4:08 pm

C3 plants, Western Red Cedar, soybeans. Can I have the $100 million in gold bullion?

MarkW
January 26, 2021 4:16 pm

I wish to submit a handful of seeds.
Where do I collect the money?

Gordon A. Dressler
January 26, 2021 4:17 pm

My serious entry, obviously the clear winner meeting the definition of needing “technology”:
solar powered compressors on tens of thousands of free-drift ocean platforms that pump air down to about 300 ft depth (a pressure difference of about 150 psid) whereby the bubbling of said air as it rises back to the surface will insure the 0.04% carbon dioxide concentration is “scrubbed out” and dissolved into the ocean seawater resulting in said CO2 being rapidly sequestered as (i.e., irreversibly converted into) carbonate and bicarbonate ions in the alkaline-buffered seawater.

Elon, just contact me via WUWT to find out where to deposit my winning funds.

Remember, you saw it first right here on WUWT!

ron
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 26, 2021 6:14 pm

So sorry.
Mr. Musk clearly stated “carbon capture”…not carbon dioxide capture.

Because:
Taking away the first link in our food chain (CO²) would be suicidal.

Obviously, it would be really silly to remove essential ‘carbon dioxide’ from our air.

So, the real answer is:
*Collect all those bicycles made from high priced (evil) carbon fiber which can easily be found around any and all “Save The Planet” demonstrations and bury them deep in the ground.
Creative
Carbon
Capture
Cleverly
Completed

Last edited 4 months ago by ron
Tom Abbott
Reply to  ron
January 27, 2021 7:00 am

“Obviously, it would be really silly to remove essential ‘carbon dioxide’ from our air.”

Unfortunately, it’s not obvious to everyone.

But it *is* really silly to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for no good reason, which is the case here.

There is no evidence that CO2 needs to be removed from the Earth’s atmosphere. That’s the bottom line.

Last edited 4 months ago by Tom Abbott
Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  ron
January 27, 2021 7:45 am

Ron, are you really asserting that capturing and sequestering molecules containing one of more carbon atoms—such as CO2— is not “carbon capture”?

BTW, it was never stated that submitters of concepts for Mr. Musk’s award (never to be seen, IMHO) have to state they actually believe in the need to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.

gbaikie
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 26, 2021 6:19 pm

The energy to pump water from 300 feet and return to 300 feet, amounts to friction loss,
do that and add air to water at low pressure where the cold water is returning the 300 feet depth.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  gbaikie
January 27, 2021 7:38 am

Once the compressed air in the pipe extending to 300 ft depth below the surface has displaced that column of seawater (requiring only about 150 psi pressure at the air pump floating on the ocean surface), there is no longer any water “pumping” . . . only pumping of relatively low density air at relatively low velocity: if designed to occur at a Reynolds number slightly above the laminar-turbulent transition point, the air flow will have a relatively low frictional loss-coefficient.

The concept is analogous to the air-stone bubbler in an aquarium tank, which pumps only air.

The thin layer of surface waters cannot be used in this concept because any given bubble (smaller size is better) needs to transverse a long path length through the seawater to maximize the “scrubbing” out of CO2 at its very low concentration of ~410 ppmv.

Again, the energy to provide this air compression and design flow rate is supplied via solar cells on the platforms (perhaps supplemented by some storage batteries for load-leveling during periods of overhead-transiting clouds) . . . the overall number of hours of operation per day just affects to overall efficiency of the automated, non-manned platform system.

gbaikie
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 27, 2021 12:04 pm

Earth’s atmospheric mass is 5.1 x 10^18 kg or 5.1 x 10^15 tons or
5100 trillion tons, and could assume you want move 1 trillion tons
per year, and compressing 1 trillion tons air at 150 psi seems costly
in terms energy cost, and assumed if didn’t have compress air as much
as 150 psi, it would use less energy.
I have given this idea much thought, but I have considered to need to make
hundred of tons air, as relates to idea of what call pipelauncher, which launches rockets and needs lot of air. And cause I am lazy, I simplify it, by assuming one buy liquid air which per ton and in bulk, could buy for about $100 per ton, as I am aware one buy liquid oxygen rocket fuel for about 10 cents per kg. And so as rough guess, the electrical cost of making 1 trillion tons of 150 psi could be somewhere around 100 trillion dollars, though maybe 50 trillion or less. And also interested is size of current global electrical market which somewhere around a few trillions of dollar per year.
And I don’t think it cost very much to move 1 ton of water at say 10 mph- if was ocean cargo transport would be quite expensive, and it’s cheapest shipping cost per mile. And looks yearly shipping is “total cargo tonmiles were estimated at 58,812 billion”
https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/rmt2019_en.pdf
So doing 58 trillion ton per mile, which is lower than I imagined. And btw also imagine if want make them run off electrical engines it would require lot electric power {which might do if one got electrical power from space}.

Anyway, like said didn’t give much thought to this, but I was assuming large diameter water pipes, such as 10 meter in diameter, but didn’t consider how much air going into it, that could moving, and say 5 meter a second [10.23 mph}
Cross section of 10 meter diameter is 78.5 square meter times 5 meters
is 392.5 tons per second and in say hour, 1,413,000 tons and per year, times
8,760 which is 12,377,880,000 tons.
And some small portion of that would the air carried by the water.
And what have is big siphon, which needs energy to over come frictional
loss of water going pipe, and exiting at 10 mph. Oh, and turning the corner at the top. And make corner, assume it’s a 100 meter diameter arc or 50 meter radius, and you wanted depth 300 feet or 100 meter, say top of arc is 5 meters below the surface {or deeper to avoid surface waves having much effect]. How fast do air bubbles rise.
Let’s try 1 meter pipe of air at 10 psi and at top of 10 meter diameter pipe,
what happens water running and simply add air. In simple terms it would fill top of bend. If add air to bottom of intake of siphon for moment, and then allow to get the liquid again, I guess carries section of air. And put small hole
in bend of siphon, what happens. Never tried it. Anyhow this post is getting very long.

Kentlfc
January 26, 2021 4:19 pm

Elon uses money earned from poor tax payers subsidizing his car sales!

Robert of Texas
January 26, 2021 4:26 pm

One word…Trees…I win.

astonerii
January 26, 2021 4:36 pm

Most of the carbon dioxide is in the ocean. I would say pump huge amounts of sea water through desalination plants and capture all the CO2 in that water.

AloftWalt
January 26, 2021 4:39 pm

Plant a tree

Nicholas Harding
January 26, 2021 4:41 pm

Plants, trees, more plants. They have been doing carbon capture for ages and ages, effectively and at low cost. Plus, they have by products that are useful. Many are low maintenance and sustainable.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Nicholas Harding
January 26, 2021 5:04 pm

Judging by recent panic-buying, the tree route is critical to ensuring an ethically sustainable supply of toilet paper.

Flight Level
January 26, 2021 4:59 pm

A pipeline made of carbon nanotube fibers to pump the excess CO2 in deep space.
That will sure take a lot of carbon to build 😉
Like it’s been attempted with all those “killer lakes” where deeply saturated with CO2 waters can release brutal surges:
https://youtu.be/dCkHvzf5Djo?t=713

Is my price check also tax-deductible or will the govt. fetch it’s share ?

Bob Hoye
January 26, 2021 5:09 pm

Wow! That’s a lot of money even for a realistic project.
Much better to offer the $100 million prize to someone that could prove that changes in concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide CAUSE the real changes in climate.

Rud Istvan
January 26, 2021 5:23 pm

Commented on CCS a few days ago. The amine process works fine stripping CO2 out of natural gas prior to pipeline injection. All that is used for local tertiary oil recovery. The amine process (and its derivatives) does not work well at all for capturing CO2 from combustion exhaust gasses, a very different chemical environment.

There are NO CCS projects that do not rely on selling CO2 for tertiary oil recovery. Injecting deep into saline aquifers failed in Illinois. Injecting into depleted natural gas fields failed in Norway and the UK.

Musk is wasting $100 million on PR. Of course, he can afford it.

You want CCS, there are two good answers, neither requiring Musk‘s millions. On land, trees do a remarkable if somewhat transient job. In the oceans, coccoliths do an even better job, since their end product is limestone.

BTW, were it not for calcium carbonate (ocean limestone) recycling via tectonic induced andesic volcanism, life on earth would cease in about 1.5 million years from CO2 plant starvation as ppm falls below about 150. Go, volcanos.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 26, 2021 5:47 pm

The “funny” thing is that $100 million isn’t even a drop in the carbon bucket… Reality can no longer even be seen in the rearview mirror.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 26, 2021 6:26 pm

I disagree he is wasting any money, until we see the terms. There may be no way to win and so it would merely be a cheap virtue signal

Maybe this is just damage control from the story the other day of him planning to drill gas wells, buying an indulgence that may cost nothing?

John Endicott
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 27, 2021 2:21 am

Indeed, the devil is in the details. if the only condition is being the “best”, then there has to be a winner as “best” doesn’t mean it has to be good, or even work just that it’s better than all the other suggestions. I suspect you’ll find that the fine print adds more conditions than just being the best of a bad bunch,

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 27, 2021 7:08 am

“Musk is wasting $100 million on PR.”

That’s what it looks like.

Rory Forbes
January 26, 2021 5:45 pm

But why would anyone want to do that? CO2 greening has proven to be a great benefit and notwithstanding over 100 years of non stop bickering about the warming effects of CO2, there’s really no evidence that the human contribution can be measured. It’s still just conjecture. Besides, I see no down side to a slightly warmer world.

ron
January 26, 2021 5:47 pm

If we are serious about scrubbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere the most efficient way is to raise current CO² levels by 300% then …Plant More Trees.

The increased CO² will eccelarate the growth of the newly planted trees (as well as all other flora) which in turn cycles out atmospheric anthropogenic carbon dioxide.
Please, Make the check out to Mr. Johnathan Appleseed.

stinkerp
January 26, 2021 7:51 pm

How about offering $1 billion for best technology to prevent the next glacial period? They tend to inconvenience just about every form of life on earth. Badly.

Jeff Alberts
January 26, 2021 8:27 pm

What?? No ads from Sid??

Stuart Moore
January 26, 2021 8:31 pm

Coal?

kazinski
January 26, 2021 9:39 pm

That’s an easy 100m. I have technology that can turn CO2 into wood, cotton, food(meat is a 2 step process), and most importantly produce feedstock for making ethonol.

It runs on just inputs of solar, water, and only needs 250 ppm CO2 to work.

Paul Johnson
January 26, 2021 9:57 pm

For HyperLoop, he took the concept through the feasibility phase, likely concluded it was unworkable, and abandoned it for others to pick up.
For Carbon Capture, it sounds like the thermodynamics failed at the concept phase and he’s just offering $100 million to anyone who can make it work.
If some one does, Musk gets in early. If no one does, there’s no cost. Either way, it’s great PR.

Steve Skinner
January 26, 2021 10:11 pm

Plant a tree orv start a WAR

January 26, 2021 10:13 pm

Elon, Elon, Elon! You’re a Queen’s man so I have to be nice.

There is NO CO2-driven climate crisis – it is a scary fiction, invented by wolves to stampede the sheep.

Regards, Allan MacRae, Science ’71

Here is a Cole’s Notes (aka Cliff’s Notes) version of what you need to know:

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/01/13/may-middleton-rebuttal-to-geological-society-of-london-scientific-statement-on-climate-change/#comment-3162726

David Middleton wrote:
1        There absolutely is evidence that CO2 causes at least a minimal temperature increase. *See below.
2        Increasing the concentration of atmospheric CO2 also reduces the pH of seawater and decreases the saturation state of calcite and aragonite. *OK
3        However, there is no evidence that CO2 levels below 800-1,000 ppm would alter the temperature or marine geochemistry in a geologically significant manner. *OK
4        Trying to restrain the growth to 600 ppm would keep it within the Cenozoic “noise level” and would require very little effort beyond what we are already doing. *OK
______________________

I stress observations based on full-Earth-scale because the molecular-scale arguments used by some physicists (e.g. “CO2 IS a greenhouse gas!!!”) are simply not credible, because we know that scale-up “errors” are a routine part of engineering practice and most people will agree that a scale-up from molecular to full-Earth scale is “bigger than a breadbox”. (SmileyFace)

David:
A. Your point 1: “There absolutely is evidence that CO2 causes at least a minimal temperature increase.”
Maybe so, IF we assume based on full-Earth-scale observations that increasing CO2 causes warming of the atmosphere (a circular argument), THEN:
Actual Climate Sensitivity based on real-world observations ranges from minus ~1C (cooling) to plus ~1C (warming) per doubling of atm. CO2.
(Approx Plus 1C based on Christy & McNider 2017 and Lewis & Curry 2018)
(Approx Minus 1C based on the natural global cooling period from ~1940 to 1977)

OR:
B. Your point 1: “There absolutely is evidence that CO2 causes at least a minimal temperature increase.”
Maybe not, IF we look at other credible Earth-scale evidence, for example:
I recommend Ed Berry’s new book
“Climate Miracle: There is no climate crisis Nature controls climate”
https://www.amazon.ca/Climate-Miracle-climate-crisis-controls-ebook/dp/B08LCD1YC3/

My review: 5 Stars.
An excellent, readable book that destroys the scary global warming / climate hypothesis.
Reviewed in Canada on November 11, 2020 Verified Purchase
 
https://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/from:1979/mean:12/derivative/plot/uah6/from:1979/scale:0.22/offset:0.14
 
Author Dr. Edwin Berry demolishes the IPCC’s very-scary catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis. Ed proves from basic principles that the growth of CO2 in the atmosphere is primarily natural, not man-made. Berry’s analysis is consistent with my 2008 publication that atmospheric CO2 cannot significantly drive temperature, because changes in CO2 lag temperature changes in the modern data record, as they do in the longer-term ice core record. Kuo et al (1990) and Keeling (1995) made similar observations in the journal Nature, but have been studiously ignored by global warming propagandists. “The future cannot cause the past.”
 
CARBON DIOXIDE IS NOT THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING, THE FUTURE CAN NOT CAUSE THE PAST
By Allan M.R. MacRae, January 2008
http://icecap.us/images/uploads/CO2vsTMacRae.pdf
 
Conclusions:

Points A and B above are of highly significant scientific interest, to enable us to understand the causes and results of atmospheric CO2 increases.
However, from a practical societal standpoint, Points A and B are much less important, because based on correct Statements 2. 3 and 4 above there is NO real dangerous global warming crisis – the runaway global warming crisis does not exist, except in the overheated minds of global warming propagandists.

Not only is the global warming / climate crisis false, there is ample evidence that it is fraudulent – a scary story concocted by wolves to stampede the sheep.

Furthermore, the alleged “solution” to the global warming crisis , aka “green energy”, is also a fiction, because green energy (typically wind and solar) is not green and produces very little useful (dispatchable) energy.

Last edited 4 months ago by ALLAN MACRAE
Hans Erren
January 26, 2021 10:29 pm

Forests
Please send a cheque.

Redge
January 26, 2021 11:16 pm

Sweep the CO2 under the carpet as the Greens have been doing with all their failed ideas and predictions.

Give my $100m to solve the lack of clean water and sanitation for the 30% of our fellow humans who are desperate for clean water.

RayB
January 26, 2021 11:52 pm

Elon has obviously his eyes and heart on Mars. This technology although might be useless on earth from a ppm concentration point of view, it might be more appropriate for Mars’s atmosphere. The capture, from 0.095 psi as compared to the Earth’s sea level atmospheric pressure of 14.7 psi, might be easier in some ways. From my rough calculations, there is about 17 times more CO2 per volume in Mars atmosphere than that on Earth. The problem is still energy and I bet he would plan to use his solar cells with that winning technology to create O2 and fuel.

Everything he does has a direct use for his Martian City. If you keep that in mind then it makes sense.

RayB
Reply to  RayB
January 27, 2021 1:05 am

That also includes the hyperloop. The tech is not really for a vacuum tube here on hearth but for transport on Mars.

Matthew Sykes
January 27, 2021 12:21 am

It is a tree. Best carbon capture, trees. Wheres my cheque?

Hans Erren
Reply to  Matthew Sykes
January 27, 2021 12:32 am

Split?

davidb
January 27, 2021 1:52 am

I suggested chopping up waste plastic and throwing it in the oceans to provide a substrate for algae to grow on.

Bob
January 27, 2021 4:03 am

What if you had renewable energy at the same percentage as the energy it took for carbon capture and storage, that is, to return the carbon into the ground? You’d solve the problem of rising CO2 while pumping all the oil you want? Good luck convincing environmentalists that carbon capture is a part of the plan, though. And of course, the CO2 isn’t doing anything anyway, and won’t for centuries. Good luck solving the politics in science, if we only had another Trump that could do that!

observa
January 27, 2021 4:20 am

Slowly but surely they’re walking it back-
Why EVs Might Never Reach”Price Parity” With Conventional Cars (msn.com)
because…… CAPITALISM!

observa
Reply to  observa
January 27, 2021 5:04 am

Mind you Lawrence is a bit slow on the uptake-
BMW: Electric cars will never be as cheap as a combustion engine – Car News | CarsGuide
But if he’s right with his overall theme then of course master EV capitalist Elon is screwing over Tesla owners instead of bringing cheap zero CO2 emission cars to the masses.

Tom Abbott
January 27, 2021 5:56 am

First, Musk should offer a $100 million prize to the first person who can prove that CO2 needs to be regulated and captured from the air.

Musk is assuming too much. A lot of smart people assume too much, for some reason, when it comes to the Earth’s climate. Musk assumes CO2 is a problem when there is no evidence that this is the case.

You based your space efforts on a firm foundation, Elon. You should do the same when it comes to Human-caused Climate Change. If you looked at it that way, you would discover that there is no basis in fact for Human-caused Climate Change.

You are putting the cart before the horse with your aim of taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Groupthink affects all levels of society and all levels of intelligence. And that’s what we have here, Groupthink. Never questioning the foundation of their Climate Change beliefs.

Where’s the evidence, Elon? You need to find the evidence of a CO2 problem before finding a solution. Here’s a hint: There is no evidence, Elon. Prove me wrong and prove yourself right, but do so before implementing carbon dioxide capture because it may be just a big waste of time and money.

Elon can think outside the box on so many subjects, but he falls slavishly in line when it comes to Human-caused Climate Change. It’s like he put his brain in neutral on this subject.

Well, he has a lot of company. A lot of people have been fooled about Human-caused Climate Change. What a racket the alarmists have created!

Peter
January 27, 2021 6:41 am

I think they are expecting that price of carbon will be skyrocketing. I have suspicion that when Ice Age comes and atmospheric CO2 will plummet, any stash of carbon used to feed plants for food will have value.

Steven Fraser
January 27, 2021 7:56 am

@All: Personally, I think Elon is interested more in the challenge of capturing CO2 and storing it on MARS, for use in making rocket fuel.

My own approach would be a facility with a modular nuke for powering the chillers, and storing the C02 short-term until it can be processed into Methane.

Pete Clegg
January 27, 2021 8:16 am

He does know that CO2 is already at mass extinction low levels – right? Doesn’t he? After he’s done scrubbing it down to within a baby’s sigh of photosynthesis shutdown he can then invest a few hundred million bucks on nuclear technology to crack the magic gas out of carbonaceous rocks. With Musky the fun is never done!

Ferdberple
January 27, 2021 8:29 am

Nature already invented the solution. Trees. Sequester them under the ice in Antarctica.

It could put millions of unemployed oil and gas workers to work in high paying, shovel ready union jobs burying the trees.

With all the airlines hurting for business, now is the time to chop down all existing trees, fly them to Antarctica, and hire mittions of illegal aliens back home to replant the forests.

RockyRoad
January 27, 2021 8:59 am

Elon Musk should be fined a $billion for pursuing carbon capture!

Has he never heard of the carbon cycle? Or is he made of titanium?

ResourceGuy
January 27, 2021 10:33 am

Solution: Crystal healing powers as promoted by Hollywood types

Steve Z
January 27, 2021 10:34 am

There is a huge thermodynamic barrier to any large-scale “sequestration” of CO2 underground. Carbon dioxide can be selectively absorbed from combustion gas (mostly nitrogen, oxygen, and steam) in scrubbers using alkaline solutions (usually ethanolamines or caustic), but in order to avoid excessive consumption of expensive solvents, the solvents must be “regenerated” (by heating at low pressure) to release the CO2 from the solvent, as low-pressure, nearly pure CO2 gas.

But at atmospheric pressure and (for example) 25 C, CO2 gas has a density of only 1.80 kg/m3, which means that storing 1 metric tonne underground would require a volume of 556 m3. Storing a gigatonne underground (about 1/30 of annual emissions) would require a volume of 556 cubic kilometers. It is not known whether there are enough leak-proof underground cavities whose total volume is anywhere near the volume required to store the annual CO2 emissions of the United States.

The required storage volume can be decreased by increasing the density of the CO2, which can be achieved by increasing its pressure and/or decreasing its temperature. Carbon dioxide freezes at -56.6 C (-69.8 F), but trying to force solid “dry ice” into the ground is obviously impractical.

CO2 can also be liquefied by compression and refrigeration, but there are thermodynamic limits. The boiling temperature of CO2 increases with pressure (this is true for all substances), but no substance can be liquefied above its critical temperature, which is about 31 C (88 F) for carbon dioxide. At this temperature, a pressure of 73.8 bar (1,071 psi) is needed to liquefy CO2.

Since underground temperatures increase with depth, any liquid CO2 injected into an underground cavity could be heated by the surrounding rock above the critical temperature, which would result in a rapid increase in pressure if the volume of the cavity is fixed, possibly causing a man-made earthquake. This could be avoided by compressing the CO2 to a pressure above the critical pressure (on the order of 1,200 psi or more), for which the CO2 would be a “supercritical fluid” (neither liquid nor gas) not subject to rapid increases in pressure if heated by the surrounding rock underground.

The major obstacle to CO2 sequestration is the energy required to compress CO2 from atmospheric pressure (1.01 bar or 14.7 psi) to 1,100 psi or more, a pressure ratio of about 75:1. Industrial compressors can provide a pressure ratio of between 2.0 and 2.5 per stage, meaning that compression to 1,100 psi would require at least 5 stages of compression, with water- or air-cooled heat exchangers required to remove the heat of compression between stages. Additional energy would be required to run cooling-water pumps or the fans of air-cooled exchangers.

It is estimated that the energy required to run the compressors to sequester the CO2 emitted from a natural-gas-fired power plant would consume about 20% of the power generated by the plant, and this rises to about 30% for a coal-fired power plant.

If CO2 sequestration is added to an existing coal-fired power plant, the same amount of coal used to generate 100 MWh before sequestration only produces a net 70 MWh after sequestration, meaning that for the same net power generated, the coal resources are consumed 43% faster (1 / 0.70 = 1.43), and the cost to the consumer increases by 43% (possibly more, to amortize the capital cost of the compressors and coolers). For a gas-fired plant, the gas would be consumed 25% faster (1 / 0.80 = 1.25).

Large-scale sequestration of CO2 underground is cost-prohibitive, which is why several power companies who started studying it around 2010 gave up on their projects a few years later, as economically unfeasible.

No amount of legislation or executive orders will ever change the thermodynamic properties of carbon dioxide. If the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is increasing, we just need to adapt to it (it was much higher in the past, and life on earth survived).

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Steve Z
January 27, 2021 1:58 pm

Steve Z, you concluded: “No amount of legislation or executive orders will ever change the thermodynamic properties of carbon dioxide.”

Well, I have it on good authority that Joe Biden is working on an EO right now—one that he will sign next week— to suspend the laws of thermodynamics for the duration of his administration.

Remember he claimed throughout his presidential campaign that science would follow him.

:-))

Reply to  Steve Z
January 28, 2021 2:53 am

Amine and Allan cycle units can, relatively easily, remove the CO2.

The Petra Nova CCUS project worked extremely well until it was shutin last year due to low oil prices. It captured 90-95% of the CO2 from one of the coal-fired units at the W.A. Parrish generating station without a parasitic load. The CO2 was transported by pipeline to West Ranch oil field, 80 miles to the west. It was injected into a Frio reservoir, increasing oil production from a few 100 bbl/d to over 5,000 bbl/d.

Net Power’s Allan Cycle natural gas pilot project effectively captured all of the CO2 and other gases and generated electricity at a lower cost than conventional combined cycle power plants. They’ve begun construction of four commercial power plants.

PCman999
January 27, 2021 11:17 pm

I’m going to win, except can’t patent my idea.

Buy over surplus/dented fruit
Plant fruit in unused area
Wait for fruit tree to grow

Admit it, it’s better than any of the Rube Goldberg over complicated renewables (wind turbine + 1000’s of miles/kms of transmission lines + batteries + hydrogen + subsidies + forced mandates) just to replace drilling a hole in the ground (in the right spot of course…) and bringing up the gas. When that runs out we can use the hardware to burn the gas from methane hydrates from the ocean. Everyone in government has lost their marbles over imaginary boogie-CO2 and climate crisis.

Dennis
January 28, 2021 7:55 am

I know I am preaching to the Choir, but I can’t help myself.
Carbon Sequestration has got to be the stupidest idea ever !
Quadrillions of Dollars would be spent to make even the most infinitesimal dent in
atmospheric CO2. Most of the planet would be blacked out to provide the energy
to accomplish nothing. We already get more Carbon Sequestration for free from the increased growth of plant life that accompanies higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere .
I guess it could make Elon richer.


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