Saturday, June 11, 2016

Turning air into stone? Seriously? More magical thinking

The Economist: "Whether CarbFix-like schemes will work at the scale required for fossil-fuel power stations remains to be seen. In these, the main additional pollutant is sulphur dioxide, which has different chemical characteristics from hydrogen sulphide. Scrubbing may therefore still be needed. Another constraint is the supply of basalt. Though this rock is common, it is found predominantly on the ocean floor. Indeed, geologically speaking, Iceland itself is a piece of ocean floor; it just happens to be above sea level. There are some large basaltic regions on dry land, but they are not necessarily in convenient places.
Nevertheless, if the will were there, pipelines from industrial areas could be built to carry exhaust gases to this basalt. It has not, after all, proved hard to do the reverse—carrying natural gas by pipeline whence it is found to where it is used. It is just a question of devising suitable sticks and carrots to assist the process. How much those sticks and carrots would cost is crucial. But Dr Matter’s proof of the principle of chemical sequestration in rock suggests it would be worth finding out."
Oh my. More magical thinking. From a magazine that can tell you current-account balances all over the world, but does not know how to factor these costs into the net-energy of fossil fuels. Clean-up costs are rarely included in net-energy figures. In many cases these costs take the net-energy below zero.
That brings up the question, why would humans use energy that costs more than it yields? Answer, because costs can be deferred by allowing carbon emissions or postponed by increasing debt. What will be the result? The bill is coming due now.