back to article Ex-squeeze me? Baking soda? Boffins claim it safely sucks CO2 out of the air

A team of scientists believe they have made a "significant advance" capturing carbon dioxide with a little bit of help from one of the main ingredients in baking soda. They developed microcapsules made up of "a highly permeable polymer shell" and a fluid composed of sodium carbonate solution* to suck out carbon dioxide from …

  1. Martin-73 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Umm, so not baking soda then?

    Baking soda is sodium hydrogencarbonate (aka Sodium Bicarbonate)

    Sodium carbonate is WASHING soda

    Please remind me not to eat cakes cooked by El Reg journalists <grin>

    1. JassMan Silver badge

      Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

      I think it not the elReg journalist but the "scientist". If you look at other versions of the story on the web, it appears to be the spokesman for the lab who repeatedly uses "baking soda" in his explanation in place of washing soda.

      I think most people agree that the recipes produced by other elRegers are usually quite palatable.

      1. Chris Miller
        Joke

        Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

        Presumably the spokesman is a chemist, so probably doesn't do much baking. Or washing.

        1. Chemist

          Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

          "the spokesman is a chemist, so probably doesn't do much baking. Or washing""

          Well I am a chemist, I had a shower this evening and then baked bread ( wholemeal + brown Country Grain) but I do agree the standards have slipped

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

            "Well I am a chemist, I had a shower this evening and then baked bread ( wholemeal + brown Country Grain) but I do agree the standards have slipped"

            A proper chemist wears a lab coat with many and varied stains, has acid-eaten holes and is likely to spontaneously combust at any moment. Or maybe even explode if thrown too hard onto the back of a chair.

            1. Chemist

              Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

              "explode if thrown too hard onto the back of a chair."

              Well I carry a scar on my thumb from a flying bit of glass from an explosion ( it was ricochet that bounced around the safety-screen and went through a thick glove) Scary thing was it was only about 5 g of material that exploded. Will that do ?

              1. Wommit

                Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

                You're not really trying are you?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

                  @Chemist: Not if you've still got the finger...... unless you also managed to damage the lab, taking a wall down for example........

                  1. Chemist

                    Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

                    No, but I do know someone ( in fact i chaired the inquiry) who had an explosion where a glass thermometer was ejected with such force that a remenant punched through a glass window 20 feet away just missing the 'owner' of the explosion.

            2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

              "A proper chemist wears a lab coat with many and varied stains"

              There is a debate, howewer, whether a true master should be able to identify all those stains. Some claim that only an apprentice will keep track of the stains, and to the master it matters not. Others claim that you cannot be a master unless you truly know all the substances around you.

              /btw, icon represents a dilemma, not stains!/

    2. JamesTQuirk

      Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

      Reminds me of the "air scrubbers" problem, in Stargate Universe, in 1st episode ...

      I think grinding up Cars with internal combustion engines, into iron fillings, tipping into ocean for plankton to eat, suck carbon from atmosphere may work also, after all CARs & idiot owners caused a lot of the problem ...

      However, with the methane release issue currently, maybe firing a missile full of, maybe, Aluminum Powder, in a spray between Earth & Sun, thats drifts in same orbit may help to cool polar regions, like a pair of sunglasses, BUT I believe it's too late, because PEOPLE, while the world drowns in the results of their muck, are watching a whale on WIDE SCREEN Home Theatre in Airconditioned Comfort, B4 driving round corner to shops in a V8, to get Macca's or KFC, in ad break.....

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Umm, so not baking soda then?

      If it absorbs CO2 then it will become baking soda.

      Reminder: When heated, baking soda emits CO2 and becomes washing soda - which is why there's a fine line between what works in a cake and what tastes foul.

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Baking soda gives off CO2

    So must be Washing Soda?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      If you take baking soda and ,,,bake it, it gives off CO2 hence it's use as a raising agent, after it has released the CO2 whot is left in the cake is Sodium Carbonate, washing soda. Schoolboy chemistry!

      I find it difficult to buy washing soda where I live so I do bake Bicarb in a baking tray to get washing soda so that I can clean my thermos flask of tea stains.

      The article is reporting it backwards, one would use Na2CO3 to capture CO2 which will then become sodium bicarbonate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Chris G

        Your last paragraph is correct, your first one is not entirely- when sodium bicarbonate is heated it gives off water and carbon dioxide, and in the absence of anything else you would indeed get sodium carbonate. But what is usually sold as baking powder is actually sodium bicarbonate plus tartaric acid. This is so that the reaction when they get damp gives off twice as much carbon dioxide and the sodium ends up as sodium tartrate, which doesn't taste as nasty as sodium carbonate. Sodium bicarbonate on its own is quite good at removing tea stains, especially if it is added to the thermos followed by boiling water. I've never needed to oven bake bicarbonate.

        Of course the difficulty with this LL wheeze is that having converted the carbonate to bicarbonate, you are still left with the question how to recover the carbonate for re-use - which means you still have to deal with the carbon dioxide. You have got it out of the process gas stream, now what are you going to do with it? Convert all the world's limestone to bicarbonate?

        1. Steve Knox Silver badge

          Re: @Chris G

          @Arnaut the less

          Chris G is correct, because he says baking soda.

          Anyone who does even a smattering of baking can tell you that baking soda and baking powder are two different things, not to be confused under any circumstances.

          1. Cliff

            Re: @Chris G

            Some countries just don't sell baking soda, only baking powder, probably causing the confusion.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Chris G - @Steve Knox

            You were in such a hurry to prove me wrong you didn't read my post very carefully. He referred in the same para to "raising agents".

            Straight sodium bicarbonate (known in some places as "baking soda" but the box in my kitchen is labelled "Bicarbonate of soda") is used in cooking where there will be an acid present to complete the reaction, for instance lactic acid in yoghurt. "Baking powder" is used in neutral environments and contains its own acid. In neither case is thermal decomposition of sodium bicarbonate to sodium carbonate desirable because it tastes nasty. That was why I was trying to clarify because many people are confused by the terminology "baking soda". My mother was for one.

      2. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
        Trollface

        @Chris G

        >>I find it difficult to buy washing soda where I live so I do bake Bicarb in a baking tray to get washing soda so that I can clean my thermos flask of tea stains.

        And what is your tip for cleaning anoraks?

        1. JamesTQuirk

          Re: @Chris G

          Get mum to do it ...

  3. DougS Silver badge

    Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

    It is a very slow process for the Earth so it can't keep up with our use of fossil fuels, of course.

    If this really worked on a large scale so we could greatly reduce the amount of CO2 we're putting in the atmosphere by removing it at the source. Not that this would resolve the issue, even if we captured all the CO2 we emitted from fossil fuel use (net; by capturing some from the atmosphere or oceans to balance that which is emitted and not captured) I'm sure there would still be a certain segment of people calling for an end to fossil fuel use. They'd just come up with another reason why.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

      And reason #1 will be, "OK, you've captured all this CO2. Where do you plan to put it all?" And trees aren't a wholesale option since they can only absorb so much at a time, so most of any you release in a forest stays in the air where it can affect fauna (in our terms, 2% concentration starts to affects us and gets worse from there).

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

        "Where do you plan to put it all?""

        Under a mountain of ice?

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

        Well.. there's a lot of abandoned/closed open pit mines. Bury it there maybe?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

          The biggest issue with that aspect of carbon sequestration is ensuring these mines are gas-tight. Otherwise, the gas will just seep back out and you're back to square one.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

          Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the concept of open pit? Hint the clue is in the name.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

            I'm very familiar.... use the landfill concept. Put in the used capsules, cover with dirt that was was removed from the mine (and it's mostly dirt). Repeat until full.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2 - "Put in the used capsules"

              So, let me get this clear, you are planning to fill disused mines with capsules containing huge amounts (billions of tonnes a year) of capsules containing a soluble and relatively unstable bicarbonate? We're going to have the problem of finding disused mines where it never rains and which are a long way away from any water table, and transport the stuff there.

            2. ravenviz Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

              There's a big hole. That'll probably do.

        3. Thorne

          Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

          "Well.. there's a lot of abandoned/closed open pit mines. Bury it there maybe?"

          A total waste of time and money. The tech might have a use for low cost scrubbers for space or diving but cleaning up coal is the most retarded idea in existence.

          Plants clean up CO2. Ploughing fast growing crops into the soil traps carbon and improves the soil. Growing trees to use for housing traps carbon.

          Plenty of ways which are far easier to clean up CO2 than burying a chemical mess.

      3. Doctor_Wibble

        Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

        Damn. This inconvenient limited absorption thing scuppers my favourite of piping power station exhaust through huge forests... obviously all completely sustainable because you chop them down periodically in batches and bury them deep under a desert somewhere, some of it rots thus magically generating mud where stuff can grow and if you wait a few million years the deep stuff will have turned into coal and you can start the whole cycle again. Hurrah!

        All makes perfect sense as long as you don't look too closely. The real trick is to sell enough copies of the book before anyone spots it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

          And just forget that the rotting vegetation creates methane and other gasses that are way worse than CO2.

          1. Jim Birch

            Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

            "And just forget that the rotting vegetation creates methane and other gasses that are way worse than CO2"

            You are missing some key science: Methane doesn't last that long in the atmosphere - order of a year - it is actually unstable and oxidises. OTOH carbon dioxide is very stable - for practical purposes you could say it lasts indefinitely.

            Unlike methane, CO2 won't disappear in the atmosphere. It remains in the atmosphere until removed by some other process, like photosynthesis or absorption by the ocean.

            1. Vic

              Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

              Methane doesn't last that long in the atmosphere - order of a year - it is actually unstable and oxidises

              OK, so methane sits around doing its greenhouse-effect thing for a year or so. And then it oxidises.

              Into ... ?

              Vic.

              1. JamesTQuirk

                Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

                COP20: Global Arctic Methane Emergency #2 (12-5-2014 in Lima Peru)

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQkNxuQ0DoI

                Dr Jennifer Francis - Arctic Sea Ice, Jet Stream & Climate Change

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAiA-_iQjdU

                A little from column A & a little from Column B, Personally I think it's rising methane disrupting Gulf Stream ....

      4. John Tserkezis

        Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

        "Where do you plan to put it all?"

        Australian polititians were touting a great idea they were given. Dump all the CO2 underground in unused mining tunnels. After all, there's a few of those in Australia that are filling with water causing sink holes and otherwise making a nuisance of themselves.

        Now you know why we make fun of them. (the polititians, not the holes)

      5. Red Bren
        Joke

        Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

        >Where do you plan to put it all?

        Bury it in a tectonic subduction zone and let it sink to the centre of the earth, You'll never see it again...

      6. Jtom Bronze badge

        Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

        What garbage. Exhaled air is 4% CO2, so by your book, CPR would be harmful to the recipient. As long as the oxygen content remains high enough, CO2 levels pretty much doesn't matter - the lungs won't absorb it. Some complain of a headache if exposed to several percent of CO2 for hours, but that may be due do other contaminates in the air. Only when CO2 displaces O2 is there a real problem - but that would be true of ANYTHING.

        If you did (needlessly) capture CO2, where to put it is obvious - backfill the coal mines where you extracted it to begin with.

        1. Chemist

          Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

          "Evidence shows, however, that CO2 does create an immediate threat to life at a concentration of only 15% in air due to the toxicological impact it has on the body when inhaled at this concentration"

          "Depending on the CO2 concentration inhaled and exposure duration, toxicological symptoms in humans range from headaches (in the order of 3% for 1 hour), increased respiratory and heart rate, dizziness, muscle twitching, confusion, unconsciousness, coma and death (in the order of >15% for 1 minute)."

          http://www.hse.gov.uk/carboncapture/assets/docs/major-hazard-potential-carbon-dioxide.pdf

        2. Vic

          Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

          As long as the oxygen content remains high enough, CO2 levels pretty much doesn't matter - the lungs won't absorb it.

          That's completely untrue. CO2 in the inspired gas *will* be absorbed - or at least it will prevent CO2 from the body being expelled. It's just that hypercapnia is a prefeable condition to hypoxia.

          Some complain of a headache if exposed to several percent of CO2 for hours, but that may be due do other contaminates in the air

          No - hypercapnia is an issue. It leads to an assortment of symptoms - the worst, IMO, being panic in hyperbaric situations. This has undoubtedly led to the deaths of quite a few divers.

          Only when CO2 displaces O2 is there a real problem - but that would be true of ANYTHING.

          Again - untrue. Try breathing a normoxic O2/CO2 mixture. You'll only take a couple of breaths before you get into respiratory distress[1]. It's a horrible thing to go through.

          backfill the coal mines where you extracted it to begin with.

          And what form are you going to use to store it? Something soluble? That'll be nice for your water table.

          Vic.

          [1] The urge to breathe in just about everyone[2] is driven by blood pH. CO2 in your body dissolves in the blood, leading to carbonic acid, which lowers that pH. The lower the pH, the greater the urge to breathe. Carbon dioxide is an active chemical in our lives; it would be an enormous mistake to consider it an inert gas.

          [2] There are, apparently, a (very) few chronic CO2 retainers whose ability to determine blood pH has failed. I'm fairly sceptical of this, but I've not bothered to research it in detail, as it's not going to apply in the environment[3] in which I'm going to be involved...

          [3] Diving :-)

      7. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: "OK, you've captured all this CO2. Where do you plan to put it all?"

        How about we hydrogenise it and turn it into a black sticky tar that we can safely store a few miles underground?

    2. James Loughner

      Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

      Hummmm

      So how many tones per year of Washing soda is needed to balance the co2 emissions??

      Also how much energy is need to make it via the Solvay process+the encapsulation process???

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

        Depends. I hear the stuff is reusable, meaning it captures the CO2, then you process it back into sodium bicarbonate, releasing the CO2 in a controlled setting where it can be collected, and so on.

    3. Ilmarinen
      Thumb Down

      Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

      Can't remember the exact figure, but the anthprogenic CO2 flux is small compared with the natural CO2 cycle. Ergo, "can't keep up" is improbable.

      IMO Carbon Capture seems to be an expensive business desperatly looking for taxpayer subsidy. And it involves basicly the same processes as that nasty "Fracking". If it does ever go ahead large scale I hope the CO2 stays captured - a large scale leak under a populated area could asphixiate thousands.

      BTW, have a look at Murray Salby's work, suggesting that CO2 emmisions are a function of temperature, rather than the IPCC story of "CO2 causes Global Warming". The ice cores do show CO2 lags temperature...

      1. oolor
        Holmes

        Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

        >The ice cores do show CO2 lags temperature...

        Until you whack them enough times with a hockey stick...

    4. The Axe

      Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2

      What uses CO2 to live?

      Plants!

      The excess CO2 in the atmosphere will cause more plants to grow. So global warming is a good thing (except for those who get drowned) as the rest of us will get more food to eat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Carbonates are how the Earth deals with excess CO2 - plants

        You do know that many plant species are temperature sensitive, and that changes in climate are already causing ranges to shift? Raising the temperature will push wheat growing north where there is less sunlight, lowering yields.

        And plants have evolved to cope with current levels of CO2. Raising them will inevitably affect leaf pH and so affect gas interchange efficiency. Adding more of something doesn't always make it better.

        On one hand I agree that change in climate is inevitable. However, doing a big experiment to see just how fast we can raise CO2 levels without causing major ecological change is...typical of human beings. We nearly went extinct without our help once, in the Mesolithic when the Sun dimmed a bit. We may be more successful this time round.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If this works, will the 2000's be known as the great starvation years, as food crops are reduced through lack of CO2?

    1. Big John Silver badge

      No they won't. Large scale sequestration is never going to happen, just as reduced fossil fuel burning won't happen, and the same with catastrophic climate change (except for big glaciers maybe).

      Sequestration tech is like big renewable energy systems; they only exist because taxpayer monies are being shoveled into them, and the moment the money stops, they will grind to a halt.

    2. Dave Bell

      Here in Europe we grow about three times as much wheat per hectare as the Americans. That's enough to swamp the free markets, cause a price collapse, and bankrupt the farmers.

      It's not atmospheric CO2 that does that. We're using a lot of energy to produce nitrogen fertilisers, as Europeans have been doing for a century or so. For the last half-century or so we have been using pesticides to control weeds (taking nutrients from the soil) and plant diseases. All these things cost the farmer money, and excess use hits diminishing returns. Mr. Worrall can tell you all about that.

      We stopped burning wheat straw in the field about a quarter-century ago. It gets cultivated into the soil and slowly rots, so it isn't good at locking up CO2. But it helps stop soil erosion from wind and rain. Some bright and fast-talking city type have bought the site of a disused sugar factory in these parts and are building a straw-fired power station. but that will take phosphates away from a farm, and they're not something you can easily synthesize. You can get phosphates in sewage sludge, but the heavy metal contamination is a problem, and the supermarkets scream and run away from food grown with that nutrient source.

      Industry in general has been dumping toxic waste for centuries. And some of those things don't go away of their own accord. The North Sea is littered with reefs and sandbanks of sewage sludge contaminated by heavy metals. Compared to that, CO2 is easy to get at.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "disused sugar factory in these parts and are building a straw-fired power station."

        an interesting juxtaposition as one of the processes in a beet sugar factory is the burning of limestone with fossil fuel to produce large amounts of CO2. Said CO2 is then recombined with the burnt lime to clean up the extracted sugar. Except there's still a fair old release of CO2 into atmosphere. In Norfolk they use it to grow tomatoes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The down vote is curious. Given that 1) carbonatation is well documented and 2) you can buy the tomatoes in Tesco, I guess someone didn't find it an interesting juxtaposition.

          Is the fact that a beet sugar factory's largest effluent is H2O any more interesting? No, didn't think so.

  5. Chris Gray 1
    FAIL

    Limited use solution

    The title, the subtitle, and part of the quotes are misleading. This quote in the article is important:

    "Putting the carbonate solution inside of the capsules allows it to be used for CO2 capture without making direct contact with the surface of equipment in the power plant, as well as being able to move it between absorption and release towers easily, even when it absorbs so much CO2 that it solidifies."

    So, this technique helps some factories and power plants that have to deal with CO2, by having a CO2 handling system that is much easier to work with. In such factories, the CO2 "captured" in one part of the factory is then released in another part - a different "tower".

    Absolutely nothing to do with reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Limited use solution

      If that's all there is to it, why bother. One would think (but not like a boffin or a politician) that the second "tower" would have some sort of capture mechanism for this.. Or maybe some majik to break the CO2 back into lumps of carbon and free oxygen... but since there's no majik for this....

      1. Big John Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Limited use solution

        "Or maybe some majik to break the CO2 back into lumps of carbon and free oxygen... but since there's no majik for this...."

        Ah, but there is! A magic substance exists that can do precisely what you want and it's solar-powered too. The best part is, it's everywhere! It's called 'chlorophyll...'

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CO2 – a greenhouse gas that traps heat and makes the planet warmer

    Er no. CO2 – a gas described as a greenhouse gas that is alleged traps heat and makes the planet possibly insignificantly warmer

    1. John Tserkezis

      "Er no. CO2 – a gas described as a greenhouse gas that is alleged traps heat and makes the planet possibly insignificantly warmer"

      I bet you're one of those weirdos that doesn't immunise their kids either? Yeah, let's not listen to real scientists and medical practitioners, they don't know anything.

      Don't call me if you get an infection that's going to kill you, I can't help.

      1. The Axe

        Actual research has shown that the people who believe in the MMR/Autism link are also the ones who believe that global warming is a major problem and that the world will end if we don't stop burning hydrocarbons.

        1. catprog

          Can you post a link to the study or are you just making it up?

          1. Jtom Bronze badge

            I've seen that study somewhere, too, but you can google for it as easily as I.

            Consider that the largest unvaccinated areas in the US are affluent pockets in California that vote heavily liberal and Democratic. They strongly believe in global warming.

            1. catprog

              Ah I see. Your saying people who believe in not vaccinating also believe in global warming. You are not saying anything about the majority of people who believe in global warming.

              1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        2. Sarah Balfour

          Really…?! So the Tea Party are just really, really, REALLY good bullshitters…? My own observational research says that anti-vaxxers are also climate change deniers, birthers, and creationists.

          Coz, if one aspect of science is bollocks, it's ALL bollocks. Tea Party/GOP/mostbRepublicans/Kippers tend to write their own science.

          Remember, vaccines will cause horrendous neurological disorders. IF YOU LOVE YOUR CHILDREN, WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO POISON THEM…?! God will protect them from all disease but, if your child suffers brain damage from contracting measles, that's God's punishment for their lack of faith. - Tea Party/GOP Logic

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You're quite wrong! @Sarah Balfour

            The largest repository of anti vaxxers is in California starting with Jenny McCarthy and her followers. If that's too hard for you to grasp then you need to get out more. The whole state is liberal.

            Blaming the Republicans for measles is NOT GOING TO WORK HERE.

            You can correlate the existince of a measles outbreak by looking where there was a "Whole Foods store" and sure enough right in the demographics YOU are denying.

            What are the demographics of Marin County? Rich, white, liberal left leaning Democrats for sure.

            Here's are a few I found you'll deny.

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/01/22/vaccine-deniers-stick-together-and-now-theyre-ruining-things-for-everyone/

            http://www.npr.org/2015/01/24/379632098/measles-outbreak-linked-to-disneyland-hits-over-70-cases

            http://www.ibtimes.com/marin-county-californias-measles-outbreak-look-epicenter-anti-vaccination-trend-1808182

            http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/March-2014/Why-Is-Vaccine-Refusal-More-Prevalent-Among-the-Affluent/

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely the carbon could be used for something? Though chemistry is not my strong suit so I don't know if could be done safely or economically. Industrial diamonds? Carbon fiber? Carbon Nanotubes? Graphene? Though the latter is probably not in high demand since we haven't fully mastered it's use in chip processes afaik. Don't suppose it's that easy though.

    1. Chemist

      "chemistry is not my strong suit "

      I'm afraid it isn't !

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        "I'm afraid it isn't !"

        Good thing you pointed it out - at least now I know why the OP is horribly wrong.

        1. Chemist

          "Good thing you pointed it out - at least now I know why the OP is horribly wrong"

          It was a wry comment. Unfortunately if one had to point out to a lot of posters ( who feel the need to comment on something they obviously know nothing about regardless of the fact that they could find out easily enough ) the error in their suppositions then one would be at it rather a lot.

    2. John Tserkezis

      "Surely the carbon could be used for something?"

      It is for largly industrial requriements, but it's nowhere near enough to scratch the surface of what's being created.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Surely the carbon could be used for something?"

      Well, yes, if Carbon is what it was all about. But the media and politicians keep wittering on about "carbon capture" and/or "carbon sequestration" when they really mean "Carbon Dioxide" It's just a lazy short-hand which mis-leads many people who don't really understand what they are being told.

      Of course, you can split the Carbon and the Oxygen, but that takes a lot of energy too and if the doom sayers are to be believed about the volumes of CO2, converting all that into pure C and O2 is likely to raise the O2 levels too high and we'll all burn to death in a high Oxygen atmosphere. Or something. Crap. Now we need Oxygen sequestration too. But at least we have mountains of black Carbon dust. We could compress that into briquettes for our BBQs. Everyone wins.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Lol sorry for not spelling it out but, yes, I was inferring splitting the CO2. It figures that it's too costly to split. Wasn't fully awake when I wrote that. But then again that's only true as of now. Who's to say we won't figure out a way to do it?

        Well, we never quite get it right when we meddle with nature. What is often overlooked in these discussions of doom and gloom is our ability to adapt.

      2. catprog

        Of course the oxygen in CO2 was originaly atmospheric oxygen. (One of the pieces of evidence for fossil carbon being turned into atmospheric CO2 is a drop in oxygen levels. Nothing to worry about though. The CO2 levels will be too high before oxygen runs out)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Of course the oxygen in CO2 was originaly atmospheric oxygen."

          Isn't there evidence of the reverse being true, that atmospheric oxygen began as CO2? And before you say chicken and egg, note that Venus and Mars both have CO2-dominant atmospheres.

  8. Vic

    Is this the right way round?

    When I'm doing CO2 capture, we start with hydroxide ions and produce carbonates as the waste product.

    Can anyone point me to a primer on how carbonates absorb CO2?

    Ta!

    Vic.

    1. Chemist

      Re: Is this the right way round?

      Vic,

      CO3(2-) + H20 +CO2 -> 2HCO3-

      It's an easily reversible process and it's why carbonate rock dissolves in rainwater

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonate for info.

      1. Vic

        Re: Is this the right way round?

        It's an easily reversible process

        Ah. That'll be why we don't want it in a breathing loop, then :-)

        Thanks, Mr. C!

        Vic.

  9. CanadianMacFan

    Easier solution

    Wouldn't it be just easier to generate the electricity without burning fossil fuels and then you wouldn't have to worry about capturing the CO2? Especially since the current methods of sequestration use up about 40% of the electricity generated.

    1. Thought About IT

      Re: Easier solution

      Have you no sympathy for the devastation that would cause to the fossil fuel industries? To protect their meagre profits, they might have to start a propaganda campaign against the need for renewable sources of energy ... oh, wait!

  10. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Given...

    ...that the scare about CO2 emissions is a scam, and that the new OCO-2 satellite has shown that human emissions are not able to be measured compared to the HUGE output from areas like the South American rain forest - why are we wasting time and money on this?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Given...

      Couldn't those have as a result of fires, such as from slash-and-burn agriculture which is also common in rainforests?

      1. Fluffy Bunny
        Holmes

        Re: Given...

        "Couldn't those have as a result of fires, such as from slash-and-burn agriculture which is also common in rainforests?"

        Ooh, nicely played game of pop-up-a-mole. Now the skeptics (which means thinkers as opposed to the true believers of climate warming faith) will waste days finding evidence that there are no forest fires there. Whack.

        1. NomNomNom

          Re: Given...

          actually the answer is that the OCO-2 satellite doesn't show absorption of CO2 and therefore the "thinkers" who imagine it shows the CO2 all comes from the rainforest aren't seeing a greater amount of CO2 being sunk into the biosphere and oceans elsewhere. The human emission being the breaking point that is causing CO2 levels to rise. Whack.

  11. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Patents and royalties?

    So this breakthrough is so needed that it will all be in the public domain so even poorer countries can get started with it, yes?

    Or, the more likely scenario, the patents were already applied for before the paper was published.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not a chemist either

    So we have stuff that we dig out on the ground and burn to give us some energy.

    This degrades the stuff from the ground and gives us CO2 which we don't like.

    Is there not a way of shoving energy into the CO2 so that it either produces fuel (ie charges the battery) or produces something useful like carbon or plastic?

    The obvious source of the energy required would be the natural sources of wind power etc that has a too lumpy delivery to be much use as a primary electric power source.

  13. tempemeaty
    Alien

    Good solution if it's adopted

    I wonder if the Corp Heads will reject this safer cleaner method and continue to favor use of more caustic solutions.

  14. crayon

    "Er no. CO2 – a gas described as a greenhouse gas that is alleged traps heat and makes the planet possibly insignificantly warmer"

    Maybe you should go a live on Venus, then tell us whether it's "insignificantly warmer".

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Then explain Mars, which also has a CO2-dominant atmosphere yet is beastly cold even in the summer.

      Proximity and atmospheric density may be factors, though.

      1. NomNomNom

        venus absorbs less sunlight than Earth

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          But Venus TRAPS more of what it absorbs. Plus since its atmosphere is so dense, it can retain more of it.

          1. NomNomNom

            In the vacuum of space the only insulator is that which can block radiation from escaping, ie greenhouse gases like CO2. Mars has a very thin atmosphere so even though CO2 dominates, it has less CO2 than Earth. The heat on venus cannot be explained other than through the greenhouse effect

  15. Fluffy Bunny

    Why bother?

    Why would you bother? It has already been demonstrated, very effectively, that the world is not warming from CO2 emissions. It can't, CO2 has a tiny effect on keeping warmth in the atmosphere. A much bigger impact is the upwards convection of warm air at the equators taking heat away and allowing it to cool in the upper atmosphere.

    1. JamesTQuirk

      Re: Why bother?

      or Maybe it's the results of Artic Methane Gas release rising in atmosphere, causing the turbulence via convection, that's disrupting Gulf Stream patterns ...

    2. NomNomNom

      Re: Why bother?

      yet the world continues to heat up.

      "A much bigger impact is the upwards convection of warm air at the equators taking heat away and allowing it to cool in the upper atmosphere"

      That would cool, not warm the surface. The greenhouse effect which CO2 contributes to is why the Earth isn't covered in ice.

  16. dncnvncd

    A solution not a solution

    Following the links it appears baking soda is one ingredient in a solution containing three different carbonates and a zinc compound along with other ingredients encapsulated in a permeable polymer shell made blue by the use of thymol blue. Baking soda's ability to absorb and release CO2 would be it's contribution, but the limiting factor will be the sustained permeability of the blue polymer shell in an industrial environment. This appears similar to gas diffusion membranes that need replaced periodically. The zinc compound looks similar to one used in various engine oil treatments that greatly enhances lubricity and absorbs combustion by-products. The zinc may be the catalyst and the real reason for it's effectiveness rathe than baking soda.

  17. phil8192
    FAIL

    Carrying coal to Newcastle

    Why does the expression, "carrying coal to Newcastle" come to mind when I read articles such as this?

  18. oneSTARman

    Global CO2 Capture

    What we NEED is some sort of Self-Replicating Machine that can be Introduced all over the Planet to remove CO2 from the Atmosphere and convert it into Carbon Based solids and also release O2 as a 'waste' product. They are called TREES

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Global CO2 Capture

      "What we NEED is some sort of Self-Replicating Machine that can be Introduced all over the Planet to remove CO2 from the Atmosphere and convert it into Carbon Based solids and also release O2 as a 'waste' product. They are called TREES"

      Tragically, they are slow, both in terms of reproduction and in terms of CO2 absorption, and rather space-inefficient. Not to mention prone to fires which can easily undo all the hard work you put into them absorbing the stuff. Plus they can't grow everywhere and the ones that can deal with extreme temperatures tend to either limit their utility or require certain environmental conditions that are uncomfortable to humans.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019