Friday, January 22, 2021

"Elon Musk to offer $100 million prize for 'best' carbon capture tech"

Carbon capture is an approach the Norwegians among others are exploring but it is not easy. Because the concentrations of CO2 in air are so low, ~415 parts per million, you have to move a lot of air through your systems to get meaningful amounts of CO2 to sequester.

The other reasons are ideological. A lot of folks in the authoritarian crowd don't like it because it means that things don't have to change as much as they would like things to change. Wealth transferers don't like carbon capture because it directly attacks their rationalization for "climate reparations", always set with a starting point far enough back in time so that only Northern Hemisphere and in particular, western, countries owe x-number of trillions of dollars to southern and eastern countries. And then there are the....

Yeah, I've been doing this a long time.

Putting all that aside, prizes are good, a very efficient way to mobilize talent and creativity in a focused pursuit. I may even see if I can recruit a team of folks smarter than I to claim Elon's money.

Here's Reuters with the headline story:

Tesla Inc chief and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on Thursday took to Twitter to promise a $100 million prize for development of the “best” technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions.

Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check, but very little progress has been made on the technology to date, with efforts focused on cutting emissions rather than taking carbon out of the air.

The International Energy Agency said late last year that a sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture technology was needed if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets.

“Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology,” Musk wrote in a tweet, followed by a second tweet that promised “Details next week.”

Tesla officials did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.

Musk, who co-founded and sold Internet payments company PayPal Holdings Inc, now leads some of the most futuristic companies in the world....


Some of the hundreds of posts we have on carbon capture and storage:

Whale Poo and You, Redux

October 2020 "Breakingviews - Stored carbon could morph into investment gold"
Our preferred end-product* has always been some sort of solid binding the carbon, calcium carbonate (pearls, marble) being one example, or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) but sadly the cost for this more secure option is still out of reach. So it is gaseous CO2 that gets the focus despite the risk of carbon dioxide burps that could release an awful lot of the stuff if there are any flaws in the engineering.
July 2019 "A (Very) Close Look at Carbon Capture and Storage"
I too have heard the siren song of carbon capture and storage.
There are two ways to use carbon once it is captured (still theoretical because of price but the cost is dropping, see below), either sequester it and remove it from the carbon cycle or reuse it in a closed loop hydrocarbon fuel infrastructure.

From 2007: "Can baking soda curb global warming?":

I have a fascination with calcium carbonate. But, being flexible, I am willing to consider the bicarbonate of various metals.
Some scientists have proposed compressing carbon dioxide and sticking it in underground caves as a way to cut down on greenhouse gases. Joe David Jones wants to make baking soda out of it.
Jones, the founder and CEO of Skyonic, has come up with an industrial process called SkyMine that captures 90 percent of the carbon dioxide coming out of smoke stacks and mixes it with sodium hydroxide to make sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. The energy required for the reaction to turn the chemicals into baking soda comes from the waste heat from the factory.
"It is cleaner than food-grade (baking soda)," he said.
The system also removes 97 percent of the heavy metals, as well as most of the sulfur and nitrogen compounds, Jones said.
And a few months earlier:
... Right now I'm looking at calcium carbonate. Literally. Got a hunk of limestone. CaCO3. That's sequestered carbon, right?. Hmmm.
Make a green pitch, wrap it in recycled fiberboard; et voila! Return of the Pet Rock, eco-version! And seashells, same stuff, calcite. There's the hook! Mom, you're going to Miami Beach.

And many, many more. Use the 'search blog' box if interested.
Here's another approach to capture, from IEEE Spectrum:
A material called ZIF-8 swells up when carbon dioxide molecules are trapped inside, new images reveal....