Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Commonsense Solution to CO2 (Part III)

There is reason to be hopeful because Klaus Lackner is not the only person who is investigating a commonsense solution to carbon dioxide emissions (CO2). University of Calgary climate change scientist, David Keith, is also working on his version of a CO2 scrubber. Keith has built a small model of his CO2 scrubber that has shown it is possible to remove trace amounts of CO2 from the air any time and at any place on the planet.

Keith defines the difference between carbon capture and storage (CCS) and his approach that is called air capture. CCS is the method being implemented at coal refineries to make clean coal energy. A CCS system is installed at a coal refinery that captures CO2 and then pumps the CO2 underground where it can be stored. An air capture system on the other hand can be used anywhere, not just at a coal refinery. In other words, CO2 can be filtered in areas with both large and small densities of CO2 in the air.

Keith’s method can capture a ton of CO2 emissions using a mere 100 kilowatt hours of electricity. They were able to remove 20 tons of CO2 using a mere meter of scrubbing material in one year. This is more than enough to offset the CO2 produced by one person. Keith’s method is both cost and energy effective. The challenge will be making a larger commercial version of his model that can remove billions of tons of CO2. This is down the road, and he admits it will not be easy, but it is feasible.

Years ago, I envisioned a biodegradable CO2 scrubber that can be dropped from a plane and absorb massive amounts of CO2 before falling harmlessly to the ground as a hydrocarbon. At this point, the biodegradable scrubber would be naturally recycled into our lands and waters. My plan included using a charcoal type material. Charcoal is a carbon based material that is very porous and therefore, has a lot of surface area to absorb waste. One gram of charcoal has a surface area equivalent to one tenth the size of a football field! Using a heat process, base compounds such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – baking soda), potassium hydroxide (KOH), and lithium hydroxide (LiOH) can be attached to the charcoal material. Another common base that can be used to filter CO2 is soda lime (75%- Ca(OH)2; 20% - H2O; 3% - NaOH; 2% - KOH). Here are typical reactions when CO2 encounters these bases:

2LiOH + CO2 => Li2CO3 + H2O (The reaction of 2 lithium hydroxide molecules with one carbon dioxide yields lithium carbonate plus water)

2NaOH + CO2 => Na2CO3 + H2O (The reaction of 2 sodium hydroxide molecules with one carbon dioxide yields sodium carbonate plus water)

2KOH + CO2 => K2CO3 + H2O (The reaction of 2 potassium hydroxide molecules with one carbon dioxide yields potassium carbonate plus water)

Ca(OH)2 + CO2 => CaCO3 + H2O (The reaction of soda lime with carbon dioxide yields calcium carbonate plus water)

Maybe I was misguided because there are some flaws with my proposal. First, this method requires a lot of energy to create the filter and secondly, there is no guarantee when the charcoal compound disintegrates that it would not spew the CO2 back into the atmosphere. But it took this type of thinking for me to search for logical solutions to reduce CO2 in our atmosphere - solutions that would destroy our economy and our way of living. This led directly to me finding the innovative work of both Lackner and Keith. Here are links to their studies:

My Book: Is America Dying? (, Barnes and Noble)

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