Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Last Resort for the Future?

Not surprisingly based on its description, global warming is a global problem where decisions made in a given region or even in a single country over the long-term can have profound negative consequence to others. Unfortunately while the major players recognize that global warming is a problem there appears to be little diplomatic urgency to create a globally recognized system to address the mitigation of CO2 as well as any future CO2 remediation or adaptation strategies to diminish the detrimental outcomes that are already occurring. This lack of progress creates a unique, but onerous decision-making environment for parties who have behaved or are now behaving responsibly with regards to CO2 emissions.

Consider the following example: in a neighborhood lives family A, family B and family C. All three families share the same water supply. Family A does not produce a lot of waste and/or acts appropriately when disposing of the waste they create during the course of their day. Family B does well enough with disposal, but still has moments where waste disposal is improperly performed. Family C does not properly dispose of their waste and is slowly contaminating the water supply. Family A has asked family C numerous times to either properly dispose of their waste or to create less waste citing the moral obligations of all three families to maintain the purity of their communal water supply. Despite this reasonable and appropriate prodding family C has refused to change their waste management behavior.

Unfortunately for family A they cannot contact the police because while family C is engaging in reckless behavior practically and morally their behavior is not recognized as illegal. In addition family A is unable to move to a different location due to a lack of available funds. Based on this scenario family A appears to have two responses: do nothing and eventually wait to die from a water-borne disease/dehydration or forcefully prevent family C from continuing to contaminate the communal water supply.

The above analogy describes the global community as it stands with regards to CO2 emissions. Family A represents groups like the European Union, Maldives, New Zealand, etc. Family B represents groups like Brazil, Australia, Canada, etc. Family C represents groups like the China, United States, India, Japan and Russia. With the aforementioned failure of international treaties and a disregard for morality both of others and the future, can it be morally justified for a group of significant military might like the European Union to declare war against a nation like China on the pretense that their actions will definitively result in the eventual destruction of the European Union?

Some would argue that the European Union declaring war on a nation like China would be counter-productive for both sides due to the monetary investments in the war, which could be better applied to carbon mitigation and the additional carbon emissions that would be released by the machines of war and the destruction they would cause. This reservation is understandable, but is flawed. While the money could be utilized for carbon mitigation the motivating factor for declaring and executing the war in the first place is that the money is not being used for carbon mitigation fast enough. The carbon emissions arising from the aggressive action can be thought of as a preventative action reducing the total amount of carbon by ‘motivating’ these family C entities to hasten their emission reduction even if it costs percentage points in their GDP.

While some individuals like to portray nations like China ‘green’ because of their investment in solar and wind energy, these investments are not replacing fossil fuel energy sources, but are augmenting them. Even conservative estimates have China emissions peaking at 2025 and most of this increase will be driven by further investment in a fossil fuel energy infrastructure.1 This investment will result in a slow decrease from that peak further increasing probability for climate reaction detriment. Other nations, like the United States, are reducing emissions due to slower growth in cooperation with small improvements in efficiency and non-fossil fuel energy generation, but are increasing coal exports to other nations. Also they are increasing natural gas production, which when including fracking elements shows only a slight emission profile improvement over coal in the safety quality scenarios and worse emission profiles in scenarios lacking safety diligence, which are much more common.2

It is important to note that the execution of the war would not be of the ‘total war’ variety, but would be surgical strikes against large carbon emitting structures like coal and natural gas power plants, cement factories, aluminum and other metal factories, etc. However, it stands to reason that there will be collateral damage from both the strikes themselves (due to shift workers at the facilities and flying debris nearby areas) and loss of services provided by the destroyed facilities.

It is reasonable to assume that the populous of the attacked country will not understand the reasoning behind the attack and will demand their country strike back in a fit of enhanced nationalistic fervor. The biggest question in this reaction is the type of attack strategy utilized in the counter-attack. Would the counter-attack involve a reciprocation of targets (large carbon emitting structures and/or power generating facilities) or would it have no focus and regress to total war? Due to the nature of modern warfare the only effective means to counter-attack for most of the ‘family C’ nations would involve an aerial assault.

A counter-attack utilizing direct payload transport could be defended against rather routinely with proper preparation. Therefore, a manned flight or drone-based counter-attack should not be a concern. The chief counter-attack concern should be ballistic missile either nuclear or non-nuclear. Despite an expected bout of nationalism from the population, leaders of the attacked country would be hard-pressed to justify a nuclear derived assault to other bystander nations. The simple fact is that mutual assured destruction (MAD) has always been in effect and will always be in effect, thus a nuclear assault is almost impossible to consider. Even without MAD a nuclear assault falls under the same purview as CO2 emissions in that the nuclear material will not remain localized and only affect local regions. No organized nation would risk the blowback from using nuclear weapons on either a diplomatic or environmental level, thus the only reasonable counter-attack to fear is a non-nuclear ballistic missile.

Another strategy could be declaring war against a ‘family B’ who is aiding the waste created by family C. For example in the real world the European Union could declare war on Australia who exports large amounts of coal to China, Japan and India. This strategy may evade the potential problematic nationalistic elements that would aggravate the war strategy with counter-attacks. Also most of the supplier countries have less developed militaries than the heavier emitters making them, for lack of a better term, easier targets with less collateral damage potential while still producing significant emission reduction results.

It is understandable that some would believe a declaration of war strategy to be too aggressive and would instead support international sanctions against these suppliers. Certainty coal export sanctions against a country like Australia would be a smoother strategy for reducing exports to China and India versus conducting military action. While theoretically correct it would take significant international cooperation to make such sanctions work, cooperation similar to that required for a carbon mitigation climate treaty, cooperation that does not appear to be forthcoming.

For example consider that lack of cooperation regarding sanctions of Iran. Russia and Iran have a trade relationship worth 3.7 billion dollars3 and China and Iran have a trade relationship worth almost 50 billion dollars, which prevents either from getting behind economic sanctions.4 Australia exports 40 - 70 billion dollars of coal (obviously the price fluctuates) annually with about 23.5 – 41.1 billion going to China, India and Japan.5 Think China, India or Japan is getting on board with economic sanctions of Australia? It stands to reason that they could significantly dent any economic sanctions by absorbing most, if not all, of the export losses Australia would incur to participating sanctioning nations while maintaining coal purchases.

Another important aspect to consider is the element of global economic disruption. Forcefully reducing carbon emissions will result in a disrupted supply chain from the affected country. This disruption will lead to price increases for those countries that receive exports. However, such a strategy can also produce opportunities for new businesses within those export affected regions. Proper preparations must be made to directly address these potential disruptions. To this point it must be asked what is more important: an individual allowing his/her grandchild the opportunity to live long enough to have his/her own children or the ability to purchase the next model of the iPhone at a 100 dollar discount or some other material object at a small discount?

Overall the idea discussed above is one of last resort, but disturbingly enough is becoming more and more relevant with each passing year of limited action on reducing carbon emissions. Climate negotiations have failed numerous times to produce any global emission reduction strategy that is not entirely voluntary. Superficial goals like reducing carbon intensity will not stop the threat to the global environment. Time is of the essence as the global environment is responding more negatively and more quickly than previously thought to the increased carbon emissions in the atmosphere and oceans. Can rational people allow the desires of a small group of individuals to not only endanger their own future, but the future of everyone else living on the planet even if the only response left is violence?

Citations –

1. Zhou, N, et Al. “China’s Energy and Carbon Emissions Outlook to 2050.” China Energy Group Energy Analysis Department Environmental Energy Technologies Division Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 2011.

2. Howarth, R, Santoro, R, and Ingraffea, A. “Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations.” Climatic Change. DOI 10.1007/s10584-011-0061-5.


4. Payvand Iran News,


Monday, October 22, 2012

Legitimizing the Modern Presidential Debate

Modern debates have become akin to campaign stump speeches with the sole purpose of stating talking points to ensure seal-clapping approval from one’s base while staying board as possible to avoid direct criticism from opponents. Unfortunately the revive the debates of Douglas-Lincoln is not feasible any longer because candidates no longer have the intelligence to express ideas in such a detailed manner or the guts to expose themselves and their ideas in bare-naked specifics. Therefore, to lament days long gone is a needless exercise which wastes time. However, simply because society cannot return to the past does not mean it must settle for the sham confrontational pageantry and typical hollow words associated with modern debates.

A better debate format would consist of a broad overarching topic (economics, environment, foreign policy, education, energy, etc.) with four separate and unique questions pertaining to that topic. The moderator would write the questions prior to the debate. The goal of debate is to convince others of the superiority of a certain position and the failures of other contrasting positions. Superiority of a given position over others can only be genuinely adjudicated by understanding the differences between those positions and how those differences would theoretically interact with the boundary conditions and variables presented by society in reality. This debate format would require sufficient time to explain these differences.

Candidates would have a total talk time of fifteen minutes for each question with a two-minute utilization minimum during each speaking session with no ceiling. Basically a candidate could talk for fifteen minutes straight, but would have to talk for at least two minutes. When a candidate has less than two minutes of talk time remaining he/she must use at least 25% of the available time. To ensure efficiency and accuracy offline electronic screens will be available on the podiums of each candidate that will track the question and how much time each candidate has remaining. These devices would behave like electronic chess clocks where after a candidate stopped speaking he/she would push a button that would stop the current clock and start his/her opponent’s clock.

The question of whether or not the candidates should be informed of the questions before the debate is an interesting one. Initially it stands to reason that making the questions available is appropriate. Most problems faced by a President are long-term that have been developing over years rather than short-term that materialize in a given moment. With this point and the point of debate itself in mind regarding solutions, choosing a President is not about determining who can think quickest on one’s feet and how much information can be memorized, but to discuss hypotheses and identify the best ideas to solve a particular problem for foreign and domestically. Finally advanced knowledge of the questions will increase the probability that candidates have greater detail in their answers making it easier to differentiate between the core ideas associated in those answers.

However, there is one major concern with letting the candidates know the questions beforehand, the issue of authenticity. With foreknowledge of the questions there is a higher probability that candidates simply regurgitate talking points and stump speeches. Basically there is less honesty in the answers because those answers are too polished, or for lack of a better word too inoffensive. In the heat of the moment when put on the spot there is higher likelihood of a candidate revealing his/her biases. This bias may reveal contradictions between stated ideas during the debate and the personal characteristics and beliefs of the candidate. Fortunately the timing format limits the efficacy of such a strategy because to talk in such board terms will not impress viewers, especially if other candidates demand and demonstrate greater details in their answers.

A secondary more minor problem is that while stated above that most problems are long-term, there are some instances where quick decision-making is required and it is important for voters to see how candidates go through a thought process to solve new and immediate problems. Therefore, it seems appropriate that the moderator should reveal three of the four questions to the candidates at least one week prior to the debate and the fourth question should be concealed until it is asked during the debate.

One of the critical elements of a debate is candidate interaction. Debates in which candidates are not allowed to pose questions to other candidates do not accomplish the intended purpose of a debate because idea exchange and challenged validity are limited. Candidates should be able to 'poke' holes in the answer of another candidate to test the validity and effectiveness of a given idea or solution. Based on the time restrictions placing a cap on the number of questions a candidate can ask seems appropriate. Initially allowing six total questions over the entire debate with no more than two per question is a good place to start. While it may be difficult to impose a limit on question asking, both time limits and the need to reduce the probability that one candidate obfuscates flaws in his/her answer(s) by reducing talk time through forcing the opponent(s) to answer numerous questions supercede any restriction concerns.

Candidates would be allowed the create written documents prior to the debate (notes) to use in the debate, but all electronic devices would be disallowed for concern about unethical behavior such as communicating with another party or performing research while other candidates are speaking. Candidate order would be determined by a coin flip after the moderator determines the order of the questions with the winner either selecting to answer questions 1 and 3 first or questions 2 and 4 first.

Finally another element of this debate format could include the moderator at the conclusion of the fourth question fact checking a single statement made by each candidate and asking candidates to clarify their statements within three minutes using the accurate information. Reasonably there should be little reason to reject such an option, but there may be concern that numerous media outlets may detract from the overall debate by focusing on moderator bias instead. However, despite this minor concern moderator fact checking at the conclusion of the debate with rebuttal opportunity is appropriate.

The way debates are currently conducted in modern society, evading legitimate discovery of meaningful solutions for so many existing and new problems in the global environment, is shameful and should not be tolerated. The above debate design is one way to ensuring that voters better understand how candidates would manage a large number of problems in numerous different fields. Clarification of these ideas is important for determining viable solutions as well as creating a more defined character regarding what the United States wants to be as a country instead of this uncertain ‘all political parties are the same, everyone is equal unless they aren’t, melting pot, but not really, government out of my life unless I need its help’ type of contradictory mantra that a large number of voters seem to possess. Overall the public needs to demonstrate that they realize debates are not pageants where the winners are those who are more confident, good-looking and empathetic, but intellectual competitions where the winners are those who present the best ideas for solving a given problem in the context of reality. If that is not the case then why continue to waste time with a debate at all and simply give each candidate 20-30 minutes of national television time to stump.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Investigating a New Means for Carbon Remediation – Freezing CO2

The inability of global society to modify energy and transportation infrastructures to mitigate the release of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions has lead to a steady increase in atmospheric concentrations of these elements resulting in a steady increase in global surface and ocean temperatures. Unfortunately the existing temperature rise is not representative of the additional carbon emissions that have been released because temperature follows CO2 in two separate feedback systems, slow and fast. The temperature increases to date are representative of the fast feedback, more temperature increases will occur even if emissions are balanced again natural carbon sinks tomorrow due to the slow feedback element.1 Therefore, it is difficult to rationally argue that humans need only to mitigate carbon emissions to avoid significant detrimental long-term damage to the environment; humans must also devise a means to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. If one could be confident that the global community would cease excess carbon emissions in the very near-future then slower more natural means of carbon remediation, like planting trees and restoring peat/swamp lands would be appropriate, but existing human behavior indicates that such a condition is not forthcoming; therefore, faster means of atmospheric carbon remediation utilizing technology will be required.

Numerous methods to accomplish this accelerated remediation have been proposed ranging from enhancing mineral weathering and extracting CO2 from the atmosphere with sorbents/amines to oceanic iron fertilization and biochar expansion from feedstocks, all of which have been discussed at one point or another on this blog. A new option was recently proposed involving the extraction of CO2 by freezing it.2 Basically the idea is to install gigantic freezers on Antarctica to solidify CO2 separating it from the atmosphere and then storing that CO2 underground. The selection of Antarctica is practical for two obvious reasons: first the naturally cold temperatures reduce the energy demands associated with freezing the CO2 reducing costs, time and infrastructure and second there is little competitive interaction. Competitive interaction relates to the fact that very little can be done on Antarctica so building this freezer infrastructure will not deprive resources from other human endeavors (no food growth, no settlement, no mineral acquisition, no alternative power infrastructure for normal operation, etc.).

While the general physics and thermodynamics of this process do not raise any significant concerns, there are two major issues that need further evaluation. First, the lead author of this proposal, Professor Ernest Agee, believes that using wind power from a fleet of 16 1.2 GW wind farms will be sufficient to address the necessary energy requirements. The first concern with this plan is that an efficiency of 100% is assumed for these wind farms, which is not appropriate. While wind energy is ‘free’ and the intermittency is less of a problem due to separation from societal necessity, including this intermittency is still important to understand the time requirements associated with annual CO2 extracted. Included in this concern is the imbalance of the intermittency. If a wind farm produces an annual power output of 1.2 GW that output is rarely evenly spaced. Some days will produce 10 MW and other days will produce 0 MW, but not all of that excess MW may be utilized by the freezers. Therefore, without storage or some other means to address this overflow there will be additional non-use that must be considered beyond the normal capacity factor when calculating CO2 extraction.

The second concern with using wind power is that the temperature, which was a boon to reducing the energy requirement for solidifying CO2, but will more than likely also reduce the energy provided. There is a lack of extensive studies regarding how wind turbines are able to function in cold conditions and almost none regarding how they function in extremely cold conditions and the results from those that exist do not provide confidence in ensuring the theoretical outcomes.

Cold weather can influence wind power generation in one of three major ways: 1) the low temperatures affecting the physical properties of the materials; 2) ice accumulation on physical structures/surfaces themselves; 3) the presence of snow in the vicinity of the turbine.3 Of these three issues low temperatures is the largest concern. Both the steel and various composite materials used in turbine construction are negatively influenced by cold; steel becomes more brittle, which reduces their ability to absorb energy and resist deformations before failure.3,4 Composite materials suffer from unequal shrinkage creating greater levels of residual stress which leads to microcracking which results in faster deterioration of the material.4,5 Generators, yaw drive motors, transformers and other electrical devices can also respond negatively to the cold largely due to thermal shocks between down-time and operational-time.

Another problem is cold temperatures increasing viscosity for various lubricants and hydraulic fluids making these beneficial elements more detrimental. When oil is thick and unable to circulate effectively it dramatically increases the probability of damage to gears and other moving parts. Loss of lubrication can also maintain higher internal friction reducing power transmission levels for gearboxes and other elements. Finally small connectors and supports like seals and cushions can loose flexibility and result in more inefficiency.6,7 These failures also are problematic because the composite materials that would be useful for cold weather turbines, those with similar thermal coefficients, are not mass produced thus when developed would cost significantly more money because they would be more unique composites (if they exist at all) and they would not be mass-produced eliminating scale-up savings.3

Not surprisingly the biggest problem with addressing the problems caused by low temperatures result in sacrificed efficiency. The probability of thermal shocks can be reduced by placing heaters inside the nacelle to create lead-time for increasing temperatures during start-up.3 However, these heating elements must be powered, which requires batteries and/or storage systems. Lower viscosity lubricants can be used to aid cold starts and maintain some fluidity, but the drop in viscosity will reduce its protective ability at normal operating temperature increasing the probability of mechanical erosion and damage.3,6 Changes in drive-train activation could be applied avoid full torque until a safe temperature is reached, but such a start-up methodology is not currently applied in moderate temperature turbines and would also reduce electricity generation.3,4

The second problem is with the accumulation of ice on various portions of the turbine most notably on the blades. There are two major forms of ice that can form on turbine blades: glaze and rime. Glaze forms through the typical process when liquid precipitation strikes a surface at the temperature below the freezing point. Basically glaze is similar to the ice that forms on objects and plants during ice storms, hard and transparent (you can clearly see the object encased). Rime forms when surfaces are below the freezing point and are exposed to clouds or fog with supercooled water droplets.5 Rime ice is white and opaque due to the presence of trapped air bubbles. The probability of rime ice formation increases with increasing elevation, thus rime ice formation could be a significant problem for wind turbines built in Antarctica. The potential problem of rime ice could be extended in determining whether or not it will be hard rime ice or soft rime ice. This is an important distinction due to large relative differences in density, which could adjust the strategy used to address its formation and accumulation.

Both forms of ice can form on the rotating and non-rotating surfaces of the turbine. The largest problems are associated with icing of the rotor due to operational interference of speed limiting devices like flaps and blade tips, increases in static load, changes in dynamic balance accelerating fatigue, reduction of energy capture due to changes in the aerodynamic profile of the rotor reducing lifespan and simple weight increases leading to tower collapse.3,5 Other problems stemming from ice accumulation are increases in static loading and wind loading because of increases in surface area (especially for rime ice).

A significant problem with both the ice and general cold temperatures is that due to the consistency of these temperatures and the location of Antarctica, maintenance of these turbines will be a complete nightmare. Icing on Antarctica is also concerning because it will significantly tax normal de-icing strategies. The most common method of de-icing is to apply an anti-adhesive coating, like Teflon, on the turbine blade. However, without frequent application this method will fail quickly on Antarctica. Active de-icing methods could be applied using thermal de-icing from heating units, but once again such a design requires energy and some of that energy may need to come from a non-wind source due to temperatures and wind intermittence. Some estimate that the total energy requirement for thermal active de-icing is between 6 – 12% of the output energy,7 but this estimate should be increased significantly due to the longer operational times that will be suspected for the original estimate only deal with temporary freezing conditions not consistent ones. Black coated blades will probably not work in Antarctica because there really is no opportunity to absorb heat over a long enough period of prep time, but they might as well be utilized due to no real detriment in their use.

Problems related to snow will be largely based on where the wind turbines are built. On the coast wind farms have a significant advantage in their ability to better harness the strong katabatic winds, which have reduced potency more inland. Note that due to its elevation moving inland will still produce higher wind profiles than a vast majority of locations on the other six continents. As a whole Antarctica is basically a frozen desert receiving less than 200 mm of precipitation on its coasts and less than 50 mm inland. Therefore, coast-based wind farms will have to deal with much higher rates of precipitation, usually in the form of snow, whereas inland the concern of snow is almost non-existent. The important aspect of this precipitation is its annual amount is generally divided into waves of large activity and almost no activity. This behavior could increase the probability of damage due to large volumes of precipitation limiting recovery time and overwhelming preventative measures. However, despite these possibilities overall snow is a limited concern regarding its potential negative impact on the efficiency of a wind farm.

The second important issue that must be addressed for this proposed method is how to manage the CO2 once it has been solidified. The overall idea desires to store the solidified CO2 (in snow form) in an insulated specialize ‘landfill’ of sorts with five being constructed for the initial design.2 The concern with this strategy relates back to the energy supply issue because in order to maintain the solidification of the CO2 this landfill will have to be cooled like a larger version of the freezers that created the solidification in the first place. As discussed above there are numerous reasons to anticipate wind power not being consistently supplied due to its natural intermittency as well as efficiency and maintenance problems brought on by weather conditions, thus storage in an extend landfill freezer may not be a sustainable idea because if the CO2 reverts to a liquid or gas the entire project fails.

Transferring the CO2 to pressure-sustaining containers for storage in effort to manage them after state changes from sold to liquid will probably not be economically effective because of the number of materials involved. There will be a storage ceiling regarding the concentration of CO2 that can be stored in a given pressure-sustaining container more than likely forcing the construction of numerous smaller volume containers, which will create logistical and space problems.

Another possibility for CO2 storage would be to inject it into the deep ocean where due to the low temperature/high pressure environment of the deep ocean the CO2 would react with water forming a solid hydrate. This CO2 hydrate is denser than seawater so it should remain at the bottom of the ocean sequestering it from the geochemical cycle.8 However, the process is exothermic, which will release heat and reject salt. These reaction bi-products could create localized instabilities on biological life in the environment. This effect should be limited because of eventual mixing due to ocean circulation, but there may be a scale problem if the CO2 is deposited in a single place over a consistent time period. There is some concern that this immediate release of CO2 before formation to hydrate could damage local biosphere largely due to low metabolic tolerance of CO2 and its resultant excess proton damage.9,10

There are two methods that could be applied for deep ocean storage. In the first method the logistics for a deep ocean storage methodology would require a long pipeline to transfer the CO2 to sufficient depth because if the CO2 is released at too shallow a depth the hydrate formation reaction is not fast enough to mitigate the density difference between the CO2 and the seawater, thus the CO2 would rise to the surface creating large inefficiencies in hydrate formation.8 The general floor depth for ensuring efficiency is about 2600 meters. Note that for this method the CO2 would have to move from a solid state to a liquid one, which is not an issue.

The second method could use a mini-refrigerator that would store the solidified CO2 maintaining its state while the CO2 was transferred to the appropriate depth before it was released. Upon release the CO2 will more than likely move from a solid state to a liquid state, but the added time as a solid will increase the efficiency of the hydrate reaction relative to the depth of the CO2. This method could create more radical shifts in localized environments because it would entail larger concentrations of CO2 over shorter time frames versus the first method, which releases smaller concentrations over longer more consistent time frames.

Overall the value of this idea is predicated on its economic viability relative to other carbon remediation techniques. This blog has discussed numerous times that there is an economic separation between remediation and mitigation techniques because both will be required to evade the more significant detrimental consequences of global warming. The chief advantage of the technique discussed above is that it does not require the use of water. Almost every other legitimate remediation technique requires significant amounts of water be it direct air capture, enhanced weathering, biochar synthesis (the process of growing the feedstock because relying on residue is not an effective strategy) to even growing trees. The chief disadvantage of this technique is supplying the power for the process.

Unfortunately as it stands currently wind power does not appear to be able to supply consistent power to this process due to the extreme cold temperatures reducing efficiencies and increasing probabilities for maintenance, low consistency and lack of cost-effective storage options (no pumped hydro). There has been some discussion regarding the creation of a very low temperature wind turbine, but this design is in the kW range not the MW range which is required for GW sized wind farms.11 Also there are some questions to whether this design could survive wind speeds above 60 m/s, which leads to questions for larger wind turbines as well. Storage is not a big specialized concern because it will be an issue for all non-biological (trees/biochar) carbon remediation methods.

The advantage of not having to use additional supplies of water makes this method quite attractive because water will have multiple elements vying for its dwindling supplies in the future. However, due to the remote location of Antarctica, powering this system is difficult. Solar will not be efficient due to long stretches of no sunlight, tidal power is too expensive and cannot produce nearly enough energy, geothermal is a non-starter for obvious reasons and using any type of significant carbon emission technology will defeat the purpose of this carbon remediation method. As outlined above there appear to be significant issues with using wind power, which makes its inclusion questionable. Therefore, powering this method may rely on the use of small modular nuclear breeder reactors. Note that consistent power is important for scale because unless this system is taking in a significant amount (at least 1 billion tons of CO2 per year) it loses significant economic value versus using those funds on other strategies like direct air capture or enhanced weathering. Overall if the power issue can be addressed this method is actually a welcome possibility to the range of options for carbon remediation and should be pursued barring any negative surprises.


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3. Lacroix, A and Manwell, J. “Wind Energy: Cold Weather Issues.” Renewable Energy Research Laboratory. 2000.

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