Thursday, December 4, 2014

Buckyball Geoengineering

                                                                 Buckyballs (C60)

Most Geoengineering concepts involve scaling up natural processes, but there is no reason why geoengineering should be restricted in this way. The CO2 Antarctic Pumpdown (CAP) geoengineering concept I am advocating is different in that I propose (1) utilizing modern industrial processes on a large scale to pump down CO2 from the atmosphere, and then (2) storing the industrial solvents and CO2 in the Antarctic Ice Sheet.  

The utilization of the Antarctic Ice Sheet for storing anthropogenic CO2 removed from the atmosphere has the advantages of being environmentally safe and inexpensive.  There is no natural biosphere that can be disturbed on the high plateaus of the ice sheet---indeed there is no native life at all.  If CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere over Antarctic by industrial processes, then it snow will bury it at no expense and it will be safely trapped in the ice for hundreds of thousands of years.

Pumping down large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere is problematical.  Several different industrial processes can currently do this, but they are expensive and chemically complex.

New research on Buckyballs---spherical molecules made of carbon that are also called Fullerene, and named after Buckerminister Fuller in honor of his pioneering work on the geometry of geodesic domes, suggests that these nano particles might be the ideal substances for pumping down CO2.   New research shows that Buckyballs, when combined with amines, can capture up to a fifth of their own weight in CO2.  The CO2 will be released back to the air if the Buckyballs are heated---but that wouldn't be an issue for Buckyballs and CO2 stored in the Antarctic Ice Sheet under the CAP proposal.

Buckyballs are now under consideration for capturing CO2 released at coal or natural gas fired electrical power plants.  But by scaling up the concept and using Buckyballs as part of a Planetary Geoengineering program,  CO2 could be pumped down from the atmosphere as a whole.  There are environmental concerns about the effects of nano particles released into the environment.  But there is no organic biosphere in central Antarctica, so the risk of using nano particles there would be minimal, especially when compared to the severe environmental damage projected to be caused by global warming.  

Nanoparticles---meet Geoengineering!

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