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Geoengineering Schemes Sound Too Good to be True? That's Because They Are


Yep, that pesky second law thing just won’t go away. Sort of like pieces of a collapsing building moving horizontally away. Ain’t physics phun?


I periodically post a link to the 2002 video “THE MOST IMPORTANT VIDEO YOU WILL EVER SEE”
Arithmetic, Population and Energy


But there IS enough to really screw with the climate–don’t forget coal, which is on the downslope currently just because gas and oil are temporarily cheap.


Some years ago I talked to a woman whose husband worked at a federal energy lab which was working on carbon sequestration for coal plants. She accompanied him to breakfast with his colleagues one day and quoted one saying exactly what I always suspected: the real reason for funding and exploring carbon sequestration is to have an excuse to keep mining and burning coal. The technology is not useful for allowing the burning of coal without CO2 problems at any kind of acceptable cost. It’s useful for fracking operations to get more oil out of wells, and it’s useful for PR purposes to keep the coal (and other fossil fuel) operations rolling along in the face of overwhelming evidence that this is reckless, criminal endangerment of all future generation.s Which is why they keep starting pilot projects, then abandoning them after wasting millions of dollars–they start them when they need a PR washdown, then abandon them when it seems the pressure’s off, as they’re terribly expensive and reduce the efficiency of the coal plants so they have to burn about 30% MORE coal.


This was a short article, about a critically important subject. I think everyone needs to read Clive Hamilton’s Earthmasters: the Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering, which goes into detail about different schemes and their problems, who the proponents are…I suspect that many of “our leaders” have relaxed their concern about rising emissions because they’ve had quiet talks with people eager to sell their razzle-dazzle, surefire, already patented climate fix.


That isn’t geoengineering. Geoengineering refers to a global quick fix like dispersing particulates in the upper atmosphere to reflect back sunlight across the whole (Geo) globe and not climate modification and remediation efforts. White roofs over black roofs is not geoengineering. Neither is localized weather modification whether voluntary or by chemtrails. Geoengineering is like one gigantic chemtrail that covers the whole Earth all at once.


But there are CDR systems that are not attached to power plants and therefore do not decrease the efficiency of the plant. However, as one commentor above has observed, all of these CDR schemes might very well be frauds. If they are, we are in even more trouble than I thought we were.


We must immediately insist that all combustion generating sources have CDR technology applied ASAP OS (That’s or sooner!) Whether immediately available or not, this gas will kill our planet and species if we don’t take it’s atmospheric release seriously. The only way to get RAPID, cost effective ways to eliminate it at the sources is to tax it.
We’re Apollo 13 and we need filters on the sources and then switching to non-emitting technologies.
While this energy is still relatively cheap, use it to transition and then use the remainder for making plastics.

Don’t make the engineers try to remove it from a reservoir at 400PPM! Hell No, That means you still have to pull in a million tons of air to get 400 tons of CO2 at 100% efficiency, and these processes aren’t 100% efficient. Most need heat to drive off or desorb the CO2, and where does that come from? Far better to mandate that we scrub all combustion sources, where CO2 emission are measured in percentages not fractions of a fraction of a percent (.04 of 1%)…


Carbon capture is limited to new carbon spewing as exhaust from power plants. There is no possible way to ‘filter’ the atmosphere once the gas has escaped. If they are contemplating injecting some substance into the atmosphere in truly vast quantities (if such a carbon molecule hungry atmospheric scrubber even exists) imagine how difficult that would be to accomplish. We spew out nearly 4 billion tons of additional carbon into the atmosphere every year. That’s a lot of carbon to suck up and store.

It sure sounds good though. Carbon capture!

If only…


Here’s a link to a company website that says they can extract CO2 from the air - they call it direct air capture: http://carbonengineering.com/air-capture/
Let’s hope this is not a pipe dream.


As far as I understood their spiel, the propose to use atmospheric carbon to make fuel ( they didn’t explain how) which will use fuel or energy to power the process and will (according to them) be recaptured from the air as the fuel is burned in a closed loop system but which requires a cap and trade balancing act to make it all viable (less expensive), at a cost they claim at 20% over normal fuel costs. There language is circular and tangential as well as being devoid of proof and statistics. They for example do not specify just how much fossil fuel will be required to power the system which is supposed to recapture CO2 as they create it etc. I searched for some reference to what process they were describing as ‘creating fuel’ as it seems they claim to be able to create fuel. And round and round we go!

If this worked I would be amazed. In fact I would be astounded. The picture of large fans implying that they would be sucking in large amounts of air should tell you that these folks are con artists. It isn’t a pipe dream, it is a con.

We produce nearly 4 billion tons of carbon every year. They used a device that was 12 ft. tall and 40 ft wide to capture 2 tons of carbon. They did not specify how much energy was used or its cost over the several months the process took. Now imagine what 4 billion tons would require and then think about last year’s billions of tons and the billions of tons from prior years. They also talk about sequestering or selling the pure carbon solution. I suppose there is a market for carbon but I doubt it is in short supply. All in all this was not very credible.


The link was all text and I agree it is written vaguely and raises too many questions. Here is a short video produced by the same company that at least shows actual equipment in operation. It inspires a little more confidence than does the text. They claim that the company Pres. is a Harvard engineer; if these guys are con men, they are world class con men. I really want to believe they are onto something because the alternative is somewhat depressing. http://carbonengineering.com/


The book I mentioned elsewhere, Earthmasters by Clive Hamilton, talks about these. I don’t unfortunately remember the numbers, but these struck me as absolutely insane. Boxes like half a mile long and a hundred feet wide, to capture a tiny percentage of CO2 out of the air. At least the ones affixed to power plants are capturing from the stream of concentrated CO2 that results from the burning of fossil fuels.


I think that the engineering principle is valid but unlikely due to scale. They appear to be researching a core process (a central link in a chain) which they are presenting as THE process (the chain itself). My real issues with them is that they are attempting what might be called business model science and they are functioning as salesmen. At each step in their explanation (thanks for the video btw) they skip over both economic costs both direct and collaterally as well as environmental penalties. Aside from oddly brief and casual mention of the amount of energy required from either fossil fuels, nuclear or alternatives (they do not even discuss the huge amounts of energy that would be needed continuously to power the fans (a lot of fans) and the pumps nor the economic cost of it being used nor the environmental penalties inherent in producing that added energy. They do not discuss the cost of building these huge arrays of fans sufficient in scale to have an appreciable effect on billions of tons of atmospheric carbon present in the atmosphere. Moreover there is a difference between sucking carbon from the air in relatively close proximity to your DAC plant and accessing the carbon 50 miles away. At some point they would encounter the situation where they have reduced the amount of nearby carbon but then have to expend more energy to access less convenient carbon further away. They claim a market for this much pure carbon? I find that hard to believe otherwise there would be no need to sequester it (remember they want to remove significant amounts from the atmosphere which is a lot of carbon). They claim that the manufacture of synthetic oil (or some hydrocarbon fuel) is feasible. These technologies are already known and not economically viable on a large scale. Moreover that process would use energy and produce more carbon which they claimed could be recaptured. They failed to mention scale of operation during all this.

They cited as an example the capture of CO2 produced by 300,000. Where are the figures backing this up? How much carbon from those cars? Cars driven daily for a year say 50 miles a day? We don’t know. Still it sounds good except >>>

Let’s take a hypothetical amount of atmospheric carbon. Say 100 tons. They claim that they can remove this amount given enough DAC units (how many DAC units per ton per day/per year?) but they don’t factor in the cost of building, operating and post DAC operations like manufacturing synthetic fuels etc.

Will they remove 100 tons worth of carbon as they claim or will they remove 10 tons from that 100 tons because of all the carbon that will be produced by this process that gets thrown up into the atmosphere?

Just thinking about the number of fans (plus maintenance and energy costs) necessary to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, I couldn’t help comparing the costs involved in constructing these massive Direct Air Capture units (not to mention the costs of running them 24/7) with the same amount of money, materials and effort to construct vast arrays of solar panels in the desert. You would remove far more carbon (from the amount of new carbon entering the atmosphere) by a massive switch over to solar for the same cost. You would then continue to produce carbon free energy after construction. Theoretically the 4 billion tons of carbon we produce could fall to 3 billion or 2 billion or even a billion or less new carbon produced.

That is not the business model science that is simply science. Solar is like poison to people who want to make a buck. Solar is like mother’s milk to those who want to save a buck. At the moment … they (business science advocates) will try to do anything rather than switch to a low cost energy production model. Extraction of oil or coal or gas… is profitable. Solar does not have the same appeal.

This process needs to discuss total cost of operation according to scale that includes energy costs and carbon produced as well construction and repair and replacement costs etc.

There is an old scifi motif of atmospheric generating plants built on Mars to produce breathable air. It won’t work. A biological based system (photosynthesis - an airborne version of plankton) would because of the scale necessary.

Turn on a small table fan and see how much effect that has on … cooling your neighborhood.


I don’t know if they get public money or not. The Carbon Energy company says Bill Gates is one of their investors.


I didn’t say they did get public money however they did discuss (vaguely) regulatory adjustments which can only mean tapping into the bogus cap and trade shell game. I assume the state would re-designate this process as a fuel producer etc.

Turn on a small table top fan and imagine it sucking the carbon out of the air that covers your whole neighborhood. Say 40 to 50 blocks around going up to say 20,000 feet. That would be a better percentage than these folks will be able to achieve. It is a big planet and physics is physics. The scale involved has always been the big stumbling block for air capture for CO2.

It took them months to capture 2 tons of CO2 using an installation 40 feet long and 12 feet high. Months! There are billions of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere and we produce 4 billion more tons every year. They’d need to install miles and miles of fans, power them in some way, maintain them and process the carbon. How many hundreds of miles of fans would it need to capture billions of tons?

The technology might have some small scale local use. It could be a useful thing for LA or Mexico City to use for pollution.