Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, August 9, 2022

LLNL Could Reverse Ocean Acidification 

<img style="float: left;" src="http://media2.hpcwire.com/dmr/800px-El_Porto_California_(5802224463).jpg" alt="" width="95" height="64" border="0" />Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have not only found but demonstrated a new technique that allows them to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide. Their system also produces carbon-negative hydrogen and alkalinity, the latter of which can be used to counterbalance ocean acidification.

Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have not only found but demonstrated a new technique that allows them to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide.  Their system also produces carbon-negative hydrogen and alkalinity, the latter of which can be used to counterbalance ocean acidification.

In their laboratory they were able to demonstrate a system that used the normal amount of acidity found in saline water electrolysis to accelerate silicate mineral dissolution.  And perhaps even better, they were able to produce hydrogen fuel and other gases as well through the same process. 

In the final result, the electrolyte solution that was created was shown to be significantly elevated in hydroxide concentration.  This, in turn, was shown to be strongly absorptive and retentive of atmospheric CO2 

On top of the promising applications of H2 for alternative, clean fuel, the researchers believe that the carbonate and bicarbonate produced could be used to alleviate the acidification of the oceans.  

Greg Rau, a Lawrence Livermore visiting scientist and senior scientist at UC Santa Cruz, stated, "We not only found a way to remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing valuable H2, we also suggest that we can help save marine ecosystems with this new technique.” 

The ocean becomes more acidic when carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.  A decent portion of that CO2 is taken up by the ocean and forms carbonic acid.  This acid is harmful to the many different species living in the ocean, most notably, corals and shellfish. 

The oceans are expected to see a more than 60 percent increase in acidity by the middle of the century.  This will be caused by global warming and the acidification of the ocean will be even more harmful than it already is.

However, the alkaline solution created by the new technique could be added to the ocean to counterbalance the increased amount of acid.  The authors identified that further research is needed, though.

Greg Rau stated, "When powered by renewable electricity and consuming globally abundant minerals and saline solutions, such systems at scale might provide a relatively efficient, high-capacity means to consume and store excess atmospheric CO2 as environmentally beneficial seawater bicarbonate or carbonate.  But the process also would produce a carbon-negative 'super green' fuel or chemical feedstock in the form of hydrogen."

The team concluded that more research is needed to figure out the best operating procedures, cost-effectiveness, and the impact that this will all have on the environment.

 

Full story at Phys.org.

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