Greg Rau, a senior scientist with the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz and who also works in the Carbon Management Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, conducted a series of lab-scale experiments to find out if a seawater/mineral carbonate (limestone) gas scrubber would remove enough CO2 to be effective, and whether the resulting substance -- dissolved calcium bicarbonate -- could then be stored in the ocean where it might also benefit marine life.
In addition to global warming effects, when carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, a significant fraction is passively taken up by the ocean in a form that makes the ocean more acidic. This acidification has been shown to be harmful to marine life, especially corals and shellfish.
In his experiments, Rau found that the scrubber removed up to 97 percent of CO2 in a simulated flue gas stream, with a large fraction of the carbon ultimately converted to dissolved calcium bicarbonate.
At scale, the process would hydrate the carbon dioxide in power plant flue gas with water to produce a carbonic acid solution. This solution would react with limestone, neutralizing the carbon dioxide by converting it to calcium bicarbonate -- and then would be released into the ocean. While this process occurs naturally (carbonate weathering), it is much less efficient, and is too slow paced to be effective.
"The experiment in effect mimics and speeds up nature's own process," said Rau. "Given enough time, carbonate mineral (limestone) weathering will naturally consume most anthropogenic CO2. Why not speed this up where it's cost effective to do so?"
If the carbon dioxide reacted with crushed limestone and seawater, and the resulting solution was released to the ocean, this would not only sequester carbon from the atmosphere, but also would add ocean alkalinity that would help buffer and offset the effects of ongoing marine acidification. Again, this speeds up the natural CO2 consumption and buffering process offered by carbonate weathering.
Earlier research has shown that ocean acidification can cause exoskeletal components to decay, retard growth and reproduction, reduce activity and even kill marine life including coral reefs.
"This approach not only mitigates CO2, but also potentially treats the effects of ocean acidification," Rau said. "Further research at larger scales and in more realistic settings is needed to prove these dual benefits."
Rau said the process would be most applicable for CO2 mitigation at coastal, natural gas-fired power plants. Such plants frequently already use massive quantities of seawater for cooling, which could be cheaply reused for at least some of the CO2 mitigation process.
"This method allows a power plant to continue burning fossil fuel, but eliminates at least some of the carbon dioxide that is emitted, and in a way that in some locations should be less expensive and more environmentally friendly than other carbon dioxide sequestration methods," he said.
The work, funded by the Energy Innovations Small Grant Program of the California Energy Commission and LLNL, appears in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.
Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy