Simple Carbon Removal With Known Technology --- Job Done

peterwillispeterwillis Ideas GuyPosts: 6
edited February 9 in Carbon Removal
We can start to sequester carbon today. All we need is an internationally agreed trading price.

Bulk cellulose, in the form of waste wood fibre, can be treated with sulphuric acid to 'dehydrate' the cellulose. The sulphuric acid is merely a catalyst and may be recovered after the process.

The result renders pure carbon from the cellulose, with hydrogen and oxygen (water) as byproducts. This is a known process. This process already works.

In essence you would be making large amounts of synthetic 'coal', and simply burying it into landfills. The net mass of the carbon buried is the total carbon sequestered from the atmosphere.

A slower version of this would be to landfill large amounts of plant cellulose (wood chips, straw, hemp, bamboo, waste paper) into landfills lined with bentonite clay (water proof) linings, and treated with sublimed sulphur. The clay would keep resulting fluids from entering the normal water table. Old open pit mines could be used as landfill areas. The clay lined landfill could be drained and the effluent treated to remove acids and other factors. Over the long term (50 years) the sulphur would convert to low grade sulphuric acid and treat the resting (and compacted) cellulose, resulting in synthetic 'coal'.

In both cases the sulphur is recovered and either reused or stored. Reclaimed sulphur has use in batteries as well, so no real waste if an optimal recovery process is used.

This method for carbon sequestration is globally portable, and may be implemented anywhere cellulose waste is produced. The process may also be monetized by industry once international carbon trading credits (fiat carbon credits) are agreed.

In addition to pitting carbon, it may also be ground onto a slurry paste and pumped as a fluid onto spent oil wells. That makes it an opportunity for existing fossil fuel companies to profit from carbon capture, using existing slurry pump technology. Fossil fuel companies could easily transition from taking carbon out of the ground to putting it back in. This would provide transition employment to fossil fuel workers with a reduction in necessary operational training. The fluid-solid carbon slurry is also more stable and physically less likely to change states. Unlike pumped liquid CO2 which could just escape from a capped drill site after storage.

This type of carbon capture is also a commodity opportunity for global agriculture. Bulk carbon sequestration feedstocks may be grown by farmers anywhere, and sold at carbon commodity values by the tonne. This provides an opportunity for not only expansion of pay product for global farmers and foresters, but also as a technological opportunity for the development of more efficient means of agriculture.

Efficient cellulose production would require development of effective carbon feed crops, reduction transport through development of on-site processing technology, and back-channels for byproducts. Many additional technological developments can come from development of this simple, transferrable, system.

The development of efficient, enclosed, automated, and self sufficient agriculture also assists the development of human space exploration. People in space will need food and oxygen producing plants and growing systems. By creating high efficiency, modular, portable, growing and production systems, the problems of remote food and water systems may be resolved.

This type of carbon production also lends itself to carbon materials production. Fullerine tube production and carbon web may be done near carbon capture sties. The localization of carbon strand production allows for carbon composite cable manufacture suitable for space elevators and other required industrials.

Have fun everyone. Let's fix the planet. Go bears!, Yay!


  • peterwillispeterwillis Ideas Guy Posts: 6
    edited February 9
    O.K.. After reading, I think I'd better follow the instructions.

    First, my team is every human, animal, and plant on this planet.
    money isn't any use to anyone if we're all baked in 50 years. Just sayin'.

    The directions read as follows, I will interleave my process into the instruction steps:

    "A working carbon removal prototype that can be rigorously validated and capable of removing at least 1 ton per day."

    Landfills have already been validated for many purposes including, household waste, sewage, mine waste, etc..

    Cellulose is approximately 40% carbon by dry weight. 4 tonnes of cellulose materials is approximately 1.6 tonnes of carbon.

    Peat bogs work in a similar way. In this case the bog will be sealed from the top. So, unlike a peat bog, the carbon (peat) cannot oxidize and, methane production is unlikely.

    "The team’s ability to demonstrate to the judges that their solution can economically scale to the gigaton level."

    So, here's the thing about 10 G Tonnes globally per year. There are 195 countries in the world. If only 70% participate in carbon capture it only requires the sequestration of about 74K tonnes of carbon for each country per year. Some countries will be able to do more, some less.

    The U.S.A. produces about 350M tonnes of grains per year, resulting in some 150M tonnes of straw as a byproduct. That's just straw. So U.S.A. could accomplish 10 times the goal of 74K tonnes per year just using half of the existing available grain straw byproduct.

    To accomplish the proof of concept it will, in my opinion, be necessary to overachieve. A plot will be selected for a demo landfill. An excavator will be leased to dig a graded pit. Bentonite will be ordered for the pit lining. The pit will be lined.
    To demonstrate sequestration, two tonnes of straw bales will be ordered. Also an order of an additional two tonnes of wood chips. Maybe a tad of waste paper. These four tonnes of material will be pitted in a single day, treated with sublimed sulphur, and capped with a double thick sealing layer of bentonite. The top seal will be capped with a membrane and a layer of pea gravel to provide mass.
    A sump will be drilled or built into the centre of the pit to allow for sampling and drainage of trapped effluent.

    In this way 4 tonnes of carbon bearing material will be sequestered in a single day.

    "The main metric for this competition is fully considered cost per ton, inclusive of whatever considerations are necessary for environmental benefit, permanence, any value-added products"

    Waste cellulose is easy to find. The main cost is shipping, however, if you dehydrate near existing landfills, or some kind of transport hub, costs go down. Cellulose can also be pumped down pipelines to processing. most infrastructure probably already exists; Just needs to be refactored for this use.

    Space for landfills will be required. These were suggested in my previous post. We could even use road beds as landfills, progressively packing bentonite embedded, or even vitrified carbon, under road grades as a fill. The advantage to road grades is the available controlled drainage paradigm as well as the shared public acreage currently utilized by roads. Vitrified sequestered carbon may also be used in the road surface as a component of concrete or asphalt, even pelletized as a gravel aggregate. We have space.

    Raw sulphur is a product we currently have an over abundance of. We have more than enough to remove carbon from the atmosphere back to 1700ce levels.

    "The final criteria is the length of time that the removed carbon is locked up for. A minimum goal of 100 years is desired."

    It's solid. It's back in the ground. It's there forever.
    Just keep growing more and burying it. It's easy. Let's not outsmart ourselves by over engineering things. That will. just take too long. This is simply reversing the process that caused to problem in. the first place. Put the carbonized plants back into the ground. With a shovel. For money. In 100 years the problem will be fixed, provided everyone either does their bit, or buys some sequestration on the open market.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    Thank you for your interest in the prize competition, @peterwillis! Registration will open on April 22. At that point, you'll be able to register and submit your proposal.

    In the meantime, please feel free to debate here. Others can provide feedback on your ideas, and you should feel free to join any of the active discussions in the community!

    If you have questions or need help, take a look at the FAQ or just contact me.
  • peterwillispeterwillis Ideas Guy Posts: 6
    edited February 10
    The 74K tonnes (above) is an error. It is actually 740K tonnes per participating country per year average, making the U.S. annual feedstock ~1.9 times the per country average. The current available fuel biomass globally would only provide ~2.5 % of the 10 G tonne per year goal if the top ten global grain producers participated. This means that biomass production would need to ramp up globally to meet demand for feed stocks. This may outwardly appear too be an issue, however, we need to remember that we only have 20% of the worlds forests left. This would mean, planting some faster growing species in the interim to capture as much atmospheric carbon as possible.

    We can also harvest and treat sargassum as a feed stock. This means we don't need to specifically focus on one or two sources of industrial cellulose. There are also untapped resources that have increased in availability as a result of ocean acidification and warming.
    Sargassum represents 20 M tonnes of available biomass .
  • peterwillispeterwillis Ideas Guy Posts: 6
    10 G tonnes goal assumes we want to continue to burn fossil fuels at the same rate we are now. The real goal should be to eliminate the need for fossil fuels completely. If we reduce consumption of fossil fuels to less than the 2.5% we can currently accomplish, we will begin to draw down atmospheric carbon.
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