Oceans could slurp up carbon dioxide to fight global warming

Nov 19, 2007
Oceans could slurp up carbon dioxide to fight global warming
Illustration depicts how the oceans could be used as a giant carbon dioxide collector to fight global warming. Credit: Courtesy of Kurt House, Harvard University

Researchers in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are proposing a new method for reducing global warming that involves building a series of water treatment plants that enhance the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. About 100 such plants — which essentially use the ocean as “a giant carbon dioxide collector” — could cause a 15 percent reduction in emissions over many years, they say. About 700 plants could offset all CO2 emissions. Their study is scheduled to appear in the Dec. 15 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology.

Scientists believe that excessive build-up of carbon dioxide in the air contributes to global warming. In addition to cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions by reducing the use of fossil fuels, researchers have focused on new technologies that remove the gas directly from the atmosphere.

In the new study, Kurt Zenz House and colleagues propose building hundreds of special water treatment facilities worldwide that would remove hydrochloric acid from the ocean by electrolysis and neutralize the acid through reactions with silicate minerals or rocks.

The reaction increases the alkalinity of the ocean and its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The process is similar to the natural weathering reactions that occur among silicate rocks but works at a much faster rate, the researchers say.

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Researchers provide guide to household water conservation

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Short circuit in the food web

Jul 09, 2014

They are amongst the most numerous inhabitants of the sea: tiny haptophytes of the type Emiliania huxleyi. Not visible to the naked eye, when they are in bloom in spring, they form square kilometer sized patches, they are ...

US scientists turn to public to help fund research

Jul 09, 2014

Duke University professor Kathleen Pryer has received her share of grant money. But for her newest project, she's getting help from a retired nurse in Canada and a 17-year-old in Arkansas.

Recommended for you

New water balance calculation for the Dead Sea

3 hours ago

The drinking water resources on the eastern, Jordanian side of the Dead Sea could decline severe as a result of climate change than those on the western, Israeli and Palestinian side. This is the conclusion ...

Studying wetlands as a producer of greenhouse gases

9 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Wetlands are well known for their beneficial role in the environment. But UConn Honors student Emily McInerney '15 (CAHNR) is studying a less widely known role of wetlands – as a major producer ...

User comments : 0