Emission mitigation could benefit oceans

Chemically scrubbing a natural gas power plant’s emissions then pumping the resulting compound into the sea could benefit marine life, U.S. scientists say.

Greg Rau of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, who also works in the Carbon Management Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, conducted experiments to find out if a seawater/mineral carbonate (limestone) gas scrubber would remove enough CO2 to be effective, and whether the resulting substance — dissolved calcium bicarbonate — could then be stored in the ocean where it might also benefit marine biota, a LLNL release said Wednesday.

In addition to affecting global warming, when CO2 is released into the atmosphere, some is taken up by the ocean, making it more acidic.

This acidification has been shown to be harmful to marine life, especially corals and shellfish.

If the calcium carbonate created by the scrubbing process were released to the ocean it would add to ocean alkalinity and help buffer and offset the effects of ongoing marine acidification, Rau proposes.

In his experiments, Rau found that the scrubber removed up to 97 percent of CO2 in a simulated power plant flue gas stream, with a large fraction of the carbon ultimately converted to dissolved calcium bicarbonate.

“This approach not only mitigates CO2, but also potentially treats the effects of ocean acidification,” Rau said. “Further research at larger scales and in more realistic settings is needed to prove these dual benefits.”

UPI.com, 19 January 2011. Article.


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