Skip to comments.A dash of lime -- a new twist that may cut CO2 levels back to pre-industrial levels
Posted on 07/21/2008 9:28:27 AM PDT by Abathar
Scientists say they have found a workable way of reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere by adding lime to seawater. And they think it has the potential to dramatically reverse CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere, reports Cath O'Driscoll in SCI's Chemistry & Industry magazine published today.
Shell is so impressed with the new approach that it is funding an investigation into its economic feasibility. 'We think it's a promising idea,' says Shell's Gilles Bertherin, a coordinator on the project. 'There are potentially huge environmental benefits from addressing climate change and adding calcium hydroxide to seawater will also mitigate the effects of ocean acidification, so it should have a positive impact on the marine environment.'
Adding lime to seawater increases alkalinity, boosting seawater's ability to absorb CO2 from air and reducing the tendency to release it back again.
However, the idea, which has been bandied about for years, was thought unworkable because of the expense of obtaining lime from limestone and the amount of CO2 released in the process.
Tim Kruger, a management consultant at London firm Corven is the brains behind the plan to resurrect the lime process. He argues that it could be made workable by locating it in regions that have a combination of low-cost 'stranded' energy considered too remote to be economically viable to exploit like flared natural gas or solar energy in deserts and that are rich in limestone, making it feasible for calcination to take place on site.
Kruger says: 'There are many such places for example, Australia's Nullarbor Plain would be a prime location for this process, as it has 10 000km3 of limestone and soaks up roughly 20MJ/m2 of solar irradiation every day.'
The process of making lime generates CO2, but adding the lime to seawater absorbs almost twice as much CO2. The overall process is therefore 'carbon negative'.
'This process has the potential to reverse the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. It would be possible to reduce CO2 to pre-industrial levels,' Kruger says.
And Professor Klaus Lackner, a researcher in the field from Columbia University, says: 'The theoretical CO2 balance is roughly right it is certainly worth thinking through carefully.'
The oceans are already the world's largest carbon sink, absorbing 2bn tonnes of carbon every year. Increasing absorption ability by just a few percent could dramatically increase CO2 uptake from the atmosphere.
I guess we now have another excuse to tell AlGore to go pound sand...
One useful definition of insanity might be: searching for solutions to non-problems.
Not only that, but I guarantee an unintended consequence would come from this.
...to pound limestone IN to sand...
Increased alkalinity is, no doubt, bad for the whales...
These people scare the hell out of me. They have no idea what the Earth will do in two weeks, much less two years or two decades, but they want to lay waste to natural processes out of sheer chutzpah.
Very well put...
And if we then add Tequila...!
One pleasant side effect: pre-marinated sea bass.
Global cooling by reducing co2...fish kills due to dumping all that lime, declining vitality in the worlds plants and trees due to reduced co2...I can think of all sorts issues. Now the use of lime in a power plant bubbler scrubbing system before gasses escape might be an interesting concept....could something like that be put into cars and trucks?
Amen to that! I don't think we want to go around messing with the ecosystem that God himself created!
Drill here, drill now, pay less!
Coral and shellfish remove calcium and CO2 from water to make their calcium carbonate shells.
Do clams have thicker or thinner shells lately?
I guess there are people who would know that, I happen to not be one of them.
New CCC effort.
Pick, shovel, donkey cart....
None of these idiots have studied the negative effect of “fixing” a non-problem.
I sure hope not!
Only another a demand on automakers, thereby raising prices.
Also, if what the IPCC has claimed is really true (and I am very skeptical), than less than 1% of the earth’s atmosphere drives climate. And what you said may come to pass, global cooling, or even worse bring on an ice age.
There was an old lady who swallowed a fly...
I know that the clam-farm guys are worried about thinner shells. But that may just be from listening to the alarmist news and not related to actual observed thicknesses.
Total lunacy, no matter how you slice it.
The lime will make the seafood taste better too!
We must have the courage to do NOTHING!
These crazy "fixes" are scary because of cost and unintended circumstances, all in the name of a problem that isn't a problem.
I am buying up land in Bedford IN, the limestone capitol of the world!
Um... This is pretty stupid.
Lime is made by burning calcium carbonate which converts it to calcium oxide. Where in sam HECK do these “scientists” think the CARBON in the carbonate went in the first place?!
It was converted to CARBON DIOXIDE!!!! GAH!
Where did these people learn chemistry?
Finely divided calcium carbonate, sprinkled on a weak solution of carbon dioxide in water, has the same effect as roasting the calcium carbonate in the first place, GIVING UP the carbon dioxide to the air, then scattering the calcium oxide on the water. The calcium oxide then becomes calcium hydroxide, which reacts with the carbon dioxide dissolved in the water, forming - calcium carbonate. The calcium carbonate goes on to form calcium BIcarbonate, which is freely soluble in water.
Which is exactly where we were by scattering the finely divided calcium carbonate on the water in the first place. Without the intermediary step of releasing the carbon dioxide to the air in the first place.
But, it does not matter. Carbon dioxide, whether in the water, or as part of the atmosphere, is converted by the action of sunlight and the presence of water, into carbohydrates and free oxygen, through the miracle of photosynthesis. This process has been going on since the planet was very young, when the atmosphere was made up of methane, carbon dioxide, water vapor and ammonia. The photosynthesis first broke down the water and carbon dioxide into free oxygen, and carbohydrates.
Now oxygen is a serious bad actor in any atmosphere. The oxygen acted on the ammonia, NH3, creating water and nitrogen, a relatively inert gas. Eventually, so much of the ammonia was converted to free nitrogen, now that one element alone constitutes some 78% of the atmosphere. Oxygen, which would not remain in a free state very long without the presence of green plants producing it, makes up some 21% of the atmosphere. At any given time, water vapor makes up from 1% to about 4% of the atmosphere (a VERY highly variable component of air, you might notice), and carbon dioxide, about 0.0455%, a number that varies over only a rather narrow range, and in fact, is almost the “suffocation” level for young, green, growing plants.
Know this and know it for a certainty: Carbon dioxide is plant food. Without it, plants wither and die. It is our OBLIGATION to increase carbon dioxide to the degree we are able, to aid our plant life on this planet to grow and extend to its maximum limit.
-OR- it could be a waste of lime..
My landscaping, especially my roses and geraniums, would really prefer the CO2 levels remain as they are - they’re very happy with the CO2 they’ve been getting and would really appreciate some more.
Well it should mean that either CO2 has gone down and/or Ca has gone down.
It could also mean that higher CO2 has depleted calcium, or that pH has changed.
If you use HTH in your swimming pool, many see that it turns milky briefly after a rain. That can be from pH shift or from "Acid Rain" where the Ca is precipitated out as the sulfate, or from CO2 in the raindrops. I haven't a clue what is going on, but the shellfish farmers may have seen something important going on.
Next time I am down the Cape I will ask the Clammehs.
Some scientists were advocating shooting large doses of sulferic acid into the upper atmosphere a few years ago to provide the same reduction in CO2. I’m really thinking that we need to start locking these ‘scientists’ away in an isolation room ASAP to save ourselves from their ‘wisdom’.
These scientist are acting like technicians who lost the designers blue print. Technicians can generally solve the immediate problem but lack the systems understanding to do engineering fixes.
Besides, the premise of the problem is misdiagnosed.
There ain't no crisis and it ain't CO2
But I'll play their silly game ...
Suppose we salt the ocean(s) ... how long before everything green on Planet Earth turns to grey?
I think we should stop posting these @$$hole articles.
I doubt there would be any consequence of either doing it, or doing nothing. It certainly beats the alternative of cutting carbon and killing the economy.
Now if you could make a gaseous solar shade in space to cut solar energy reaching the earth by a percent we could make a new ice age?
The basic carbon cycle of life is: (1) the conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide to carbohydrates by photosynthesis in plants; (2) the consumption and oxidation of these carbohydrates by animals and microorganisms to produce carbon dioxide and other products; and (3) the return of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. On a global level, the total carbon cycle is more complex, and involves carbon stored in fossil fuels, soils, oceans, and rocks.
We can organize all the carbon on earth into five main pools, listed in order of the size of the pool:
1. Lithosphere (Earth’s crust). This consists of fossil fuels and sedimentary rock deposits, such as limestone, dolomite, and chalk. This is far and away the largest carbon pool on earth. The amount of carbon in the lithosphere: 66 to 100 million gigatons (a gigaton is one million metric tons). Of this amount, only 4,000 gigatons consists of fossil fuels.
2. Oceans. Ocean waters contain dissolved carbon dioxide, and calcium carbonate shells in marine organisms. Amount of carbon: 38,000 to 40,000 gigatons.
3. Soil organic matter. Amount of carbon: 1,500 to 1,600 gigatons.
4. Atmosphere. This consists primarily of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere has increased from 578 gigatons in 1700 to about 766 gigatons in 1999, and continues to increase at the rate of about 6.1 gigatons per year.
5. Biosphere. This consists of all living and dead organisms not yet converted into soil organic matter. Amount of carbon: 540 to 610 gigatons.
Put de lime in de coconut, shake it all up.
The first thing that comes to mind is that adding calcium hydroxide to sea water may NOT have the beneficial effect on sea life that the article proposes. Imagine that, the Global Warmers may have hit on the solution: They may have to kill everything on earth to save the planet!
You really must upgrade your continueing education budget.
They have no interest in reducing CO2 in the atmosphere. Their interest is focused on reducing energy consumption by the U.S. This would reduces our standard of living and economic power. That is their goal plain and simple.
The Greenies simply ride what ever horse is heading in that direction. Right now that is the Global-Warming-Wackos of the Al Gore camp. When that horse is dead they will simply climb on to the next available horse.
Besides, the premise of the problem is misdiagnosed.
Funny! I have used the analogy of these scientists trying to fix a piece of equipment without the shop manual.
I work in the security biz. I have seen the unintentional domino effect when a new tech tries to fix an access control or CCTV system without understanding how the architecture of the system is designed. These guys remind me of these aggressive techs who won't wait on an email or fax (Or sometimes not read an old fashioned manual).
The primary evidence that CO2 and the greenhouse effect have anything to do with raising global temperature is missing entirely. It isn't there.
That is a short and easily understandable article showing the plain truth. The hinge pin that links global temperature to the greenhouse effect is missing. It is easily measurable and hundreds of probes have done so.
Just down 37 from me, I’m in Martinsville.
Plenty of clay here if they need that...
Cut back on CO2 then what are the plants goin breathe to make oxygen, hmmmm???
Coal fired power plants already use lime in their scrubbers. This produces a synthetic form of gypsum (CaS04*2H2O). This used to be a waste product, but gypsum companies have increasingly been using this “waste” product to make Sheetrock. In fact my company uses syngyp from coal fired power plants almost exclusively in the eastern US. In the Midwest, and the west, they still primarily rely upon mines and quaries. So if you live in the eastern US, there is a good chance that the walls of your office or house are made from the byproducts of scrubbing power plant exhaust.
Plant more plants!
Oh, no no no no no, save the world by killing all life in the ocean? Bad idea. Bad bad idea. These people claim to be ecologists? See tagline
Damn tree-hugger! ;-)
Something seems funny here. In the 299 years since 1700, we gained 188GT of carbon compounds in the atmosphere. That is an increase of .6287 Gt/Year.
Yet we are now gaining an order of magnitude faster than that in the present, implicitly since 1999.
It will depend on how much is methane and C=O to figure out what to blame it on.
I would tend to suspect the Gas Chromatograph they used in 1700. -Mild questioning sarcasm,( thinking of leather bellows and powder horns charged with quicklime), but not much. Atmosphere recoveries from Civil War Uniform buttons and ice cores should be questioned because of different gas reactivities and diffusion rates, solubilities, etc., and that a tiny amount of the C14 isotope would have been converted to N in that time.
Tinkering with the ocean's pH level (which is what they're talking about) is VERY MUCH GUARANTEED to have a whole bunch of bad consequences for a large number of oceanic life forms
My God, what idiots.
Starting with the premise that human “error” has mucked up the atmosphere with “too much CO2” (if you buy that false premise) we are now to trust human arrogance and hubris in the escapade to artificially, massively and DELIBERATELY intervene in earth’s biosphere (play God) as if we know with total certainty (we don’t) that we are NOT embarked on a “cure” that will have unforeseen consequences worse than the “illness”.
The natural earth history shows there is in fact no such “natural balance” of CO2 in the “air” portion of earth’s biosphere.
There has been greater levels of CO2 (in the “air”), at some times, when the earth’s “temperature” has been lower and there has been lower levels of CO2, at some times, when the earth’s temperature has been higher - and vice-a-versa. The natural record indicates no implied CO2 “balance” and in terms of earth “temperature” changes the changes in CO2 levels have been trailing indicators, not leading indicators. CO2 may be a factor in earth’s layer of insulation, but, just like your house, the insulation does not drive the source of the heating and cooling cycle - the sun.