[GWSG] UCLA's C sea sweepers; H byproduct--use it flare it?; the promise of drawdown

Tilley, Al atilley at unf.edu
Tue May 16 10:25:06 EDT 2023

1. UCLA has developed a process to remove carbon from the ocean through “electrolytic carbonate mineral precipitation using renewable energy within a simple and scalable process design.” The process essentially makes limestone from ambient minerals and CO2, allowing it to settle in stable form to the ocean floor. The process has the potential to sequester billions of tons of carbon a year at relatively low cost. (The job is so large that the cost of the nearly 1,800 plants necessary to immobilize 10 billion tons of CO2 a year will still be in the trillions.) A prototype pilot plant has been in operation for nearly a year; a second plant will begin operation in Singapore soon.  https://cleantechnica.com/2023/05/15/ucla-says-we-can-hack-the-ocean-to-store-carbon-dioxide/

2. A second story on the UCLA project from NBC news provides further details and an emphasis on the hydrogen incidentally produced. The cost of the plants could be offset by selling the hydrogen. https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/california-researchers-attempt-ocean-climate-solution-rcna80861

3. Hydrogen impedes the conversion of methane to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus is an indirect greenhouse gas. It leaks more easily than methane (the molecules are smaller) and is more explosive than gasoline vapor. To store it requires unusually heavy pressure tanks. Michael Barnard’s article assumes that we know its general utility is a shuck and ponders the reason people take is so seriously as the fuel of the future. https://cleantechnica.com/2023/05/16/what-drives-this-madness-on-hydrogen/

4. H famously burns with only heat and water vapor as products. It could easily be flared at UCLA’s oceanic carbon vacuum cleaners, if it cannot be used to assist as a fuel on site. If we are forced by the gas companies to use it in, say, fuel cells, it will still be an improvement. I hope I am not being overly enthusiastic in finding in the new technology the major C drawdown system we have been seeking, and that on the other side of the heat already in the pipeline for us—with all its attendant sea level rise, storms, fires, famine, and drought—assuming that we have stopped short of disastrous reinforcing tipping points—we can take more hope in a world emerging in which we can live more wisely, happier and more at home.

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