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: Climate rhetoric faces devil in the detail at Lima talks

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New tool displays West Coast ocean acidification data

Nov 24, 2014

Increasing carbon dioxide in the air penetrates into the ocean and makes it more acidic, while robbing seawater of minerals that give shellfish their crunch. The West Coast is one of the first marine ecosystems ...

Biology trumps chemistry in open ocean

Nov 24, 2014

Single-cell phytoplankton in the ocean are responsible for roughly half of global oxygen production, despite vast tracts of the open ocean that are devoid of life-sustaining nutrients. While phytoplankton's ...

Recommended for you

Gold rush an ecological disaster for Peruvian Amazon

9 hours ago

A lush expanse of Amazon rainforest known as the "Mother of God" is steadily being destroyed in Peru, with the jungle giving way to mercury-filled tailing ponds used to extract the gold hidden underground.

Australia out of step with new climate momentum

11 hours ago

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who rose to power in large part by opposing a tax on greenhouse gas emissions, is finding his country isolated like never before on climate change as the U.S., China ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.