Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Into the abyss: Deep-sixing carbon

20.02.2008
Imagine a gigantic, inflatable, sausage-like bag capable of storing 160 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of 2.2 days of current global emissions. Now try to picture that container, measuring up to 100 metres in radius and several kilometres long, resting benignly on the seabed more than 3 kilometres below the ocean’s surface.

At first blush, this might appear like science fiction, but it’s an idea that gets serious attention from Dr. David Keith, one of Canada’s foremost experts on carbon capture and sequestration. Keith will talk on the subject at the 2008 Annual Conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston at a session entitled Ocean Iron Fertilization and Carbon Sequestration: Can the Oceans Save the Planet?

“There are a lot of gee-whiz ideas for dealing with global warming that are really silly,” remarks Keith, an NSERC grantee and director of the Energy and Environmental Systems Group at University of Calgary-based Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy. “At first glance this idea looks nutty, but as one looks closer it seems that it might technically feasible with current-day technology.” But, adds Keith, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Energy and the Environment, “it’s early days and there is not yet any serious design study for the concept.”

The original idea of ocean storage was conceived several years ago by Dr. Michael Pilson, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island, but it really took off last year when Keith confirmed its feasibility with Dr. Andrew Palmer, a world-renowned ocean engineer at Cambridge University. Keith, Palmer and another scientist at Argonne National Laboratory later advanced the concept through a technical paper prepared for the 26th International Conference on Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering in June 2007.

Keith sees this solution as a potentially useful complement to CO2 storage in geological formations, particularly for CO2 emanating from sources near deep oceans.

He believes it may offer a viable solution because vast flat plains cover huge areas of the deep oceans. These abyssal plains have little life and are benign environments. “If you stay away from the steep slopes from the continental shelves, they are a very quiet environment.”

For CO2 to be stored there, the gas must be captured from power and industrial point sources, compressed to liquid, and transported via pipelines that extend well beyond the ocean’s continental shelves. When the liquid CO2 is pumped into the deep ocean, the intense pressure and cold temperatures make it negatively buoyant.

“This negative buoyancy is the key,” explains Keith. “It means the CO2 wants to leak downwards rather than moving up to the biosphere.”

The use of containment is necessary because CO2 will tend to dissolve in the ocean, which could adversely impact marine ecosystems. Fortunately, says Keith, the cost of containment is quite minimal with this solution. He and his colleagues calculate that the bags can be constructed of existing polymers for less than four cents per tonne of carbon.

The real costs lie in the capture of CO2 and its transport to the deep ocean. “If we can drive those down,” he notes, “then ocean storage might be an important option for reducing CO2 emissions.”

Doré Dunne | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nserc.ca
http://www.ucalgary.ca

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past
28.04.2017 | National Science Foundation

nachricht Citizen science campaign to aid disaster response
28.04.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>