Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Environment, Carbon Emissions and a possible way to reduce?

Ok, so I've been reading that Sir Richard Branson is offering a 25 million whopper cheque to anyone who can come up with a plan to remove carbon from the atmosphere. So here's a long shot in the dark.

Having done a little bit of research, I have come to understand that up to around 50% of the worlds carbon created from the combustion of fossil fuels has been absorbed by the oceans. This in turn is changing the oceans ph levels making them more acidic which then make the oceans warm up. Carbon can only be absorbed by the oceans at lower temperatures, so the higher they get, the less absorption occurs. There are consequences throughout the cycle for the acidity levels changing and there have been fast biological disasters as a consequence. I imagine if the cycle was running optimally, with the right temperatures for absorption

So I thought, why not neutralize it? See, the carbon I've been referring to is bicarbonate. So bicarb changes saline waters ph, and bicarb can be neutralized by vinegar, or more specifically Acetic acid. We have tons of vinegar don't we, or we could make it? It's created from the fermentation of ethanol, and I think it's most natural form of production is sour wine and can produce a non-toxic slime of acetic acid bacteria and soluble cellulose and is otherwise known as mother of vinegar.

What if we dumped loads of vinegar into the oceans? Surely that would help neutralize the bicarbonate which would allow the oceans to cool up again which would in turn cause more carbon to be absorbed? Would mother of vinegar be able to live in a specially formulated form on, in or near the oceans without affecting the rest of the environment? Crazy perhaps.

I suppose someone else has thought of this, but it also leads me to question, can we use this method as a filtration system, one that is sustainable and actually neutralizes carbon once it's down here and not up in our atmosphere. The less we pump up there the better, but also would it reduce actual carbon waste for the dumps.

In theory I'm thinking of a highly salinated tank that exhaust fumes passes through which would absorb the bicarbonate and then with the introduction of the right levels of vinegar gets neutralized. If you combine vinegar and sodium bicarbonate a volatile reaction occurs, converting the mixture to water, carbon dioxide and sodium ethanoate. So the sodium ethanoate can be collected, and used in science classes, the water drained, and the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere for the plants to absorb and convert into oxygen. Perhaps it could be relatively easy to maintain, much like filling up the radiator, and if using sustainable materials a very green method.

These are just ideas, and I'm not a scientist, or ever really studied chemistry to a great deal for that matter. By posing the questions, perhaps it can spark debate, or squash the idea entirely as totally and utterly ludicrous. However what would be crazy is me spend a small lifetime studying chemistry and biology to the extent that I would be able to answer these questions only to find out that I was a bit crazy to even consider the idea...if perhaps not insane.

What's it going to be folks? I invite any and all discussion on the topic. Scientists out there, I'm interested in knowing if these are even possible, let alone feasible for the time being.

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