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LLNL scientists to present global warming mitigation tool for ridding the atmosphere of excess carbon

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory today will present evidence that a new method for capturing carbon dioxide from power plants and placing it in the ocean has less impact on marine life than atmospheric carbon dioxide release or other global warming mitigation methods, such as direct injection and ocean fertilization.

LLNL earth scientists Greg Rau, Ken Caldeira and Kevin Knauss will showcase the research, called carbonate dissolution, today at the 2001 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The proposal would hydrate the carbon dioxide in power plant flue gas with water to produce a carbonic acid solution. This solution would be mixed with limestone -- that neutralizes the carbon dioxide by converting it to bicarbonate and then would be released in the ocean. This process occurs naturally (carbonate weathering), but at a much slower pace.

"You are altering the chemistry of the carbon dioxide that causes a less drastic change to ocean pH (acidity) and is less biologically harmful than other methods such as direct injection ocean carbon sequestration and ocean fertilization," said Rau, an LLNL guest scientist who also works as a senior researcher with the Institute for Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Whether carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere or the ocean, eventually about 80 percent of the carbon dioxide will end up in the ocean in a form that will make the ocean more acidic. While the carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, it could produce adverse climate change. When it enters the ocean, the acidification could be harmful to marine life.

"If the carbon dioxide were reacted with crushed limestone and seawater, and the resulting solution released to the ocean, the limestone would buffer the pH (acidity) of the ocean and prevent it from becoming more acidic," Caldeira said. "Furthermore, the dissolved limestone
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Contact: Anne Stark
stark8@llnl.gov
925-422-9799
DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
12-Dec-2001


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