Why Solar: New idea holds potential for carbon dioxide crisis

The IPCC is the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC’s released their report for 2018 on Oct. 7. The report concludes humanity has a very short period, estimated as a brief 12 years, in which to address the world’s carbon dioxide output. Failing this objective will burden the world’s inhabitants with extreme weather in the form of droughts, typhoons / hurricanes, crop failures and water shortages the likes of which have never been recorded by modern Homo sapiens.

Typhoons in the Pacific Ocean affect the weather in North America.

Warmer drier summers begat the conditions for replicating the devastating forest fires such as those endured this summer.

As the Pacific’s waters warm, typhoons form, and disrupt weather patterns.

Canada will not be unscathed as an increase in unstable weather is not particularly conducive to crop production, quality, or yield.

The report strongly recommends that coal consumption must be reduced by one-third and direct carbon capture and removal technologies should be significantly scaled up.

Renewables have to supply 70 – 80 per cent of the needed electrical power by 2050 in order to reduce the intensity of the changing climate.

The nations of the world with the highest output of GHG’S are not going to meet their requirements. In the US, POTUS is opting out of its Paris accord commitments.

In Brazil’s upcoming election, the leading presidential candidate threatens to follow suit. Carbon dioxide mitigation does not seem likely in those countries.

Carbon recovery technologies like CCS, the manufacture of concrete and carbon fibre materials, the use of CO2 as a fuel source now have another bench tested process to add to their curriculum vitae.

MIT is now working on lithium-carbon dioxide battery that uses CO2 mixed with a water–based amine, (2-ethoxyethlamine), combined with a non-aqueous liquid electrolyte.

As the battery is discharged the carbon dioxide is converted to a carbonate which collects on the cathode.

Team lead, Professor Beta Gallant, believes the technology can be used in two ways. One would be in typical

batteries that would operate until the electrolyte is spent, the second idea would see it utilized in a power plant, continuously absorbing CO2 into its electrolyte.

As the current carbon capture technologies utilized by these facilities consume enormous amounts of electrical energy, this new process would generate salable quantities as it consumes carbon from the exhaust.

The carbonate collected from the anodes would be repurposed in other carbon sequestering methods.

With bench testing indicating that lithium carbon batteries output is comparable to the current lithium gas cell we are all so familiar with, the technology definitely looks promising.

There are still hurdles to clear before this knowledge is commercialized as a better understanding of the process is needed and its short life cycle is addressed.

With the amount of coal being burned in our country, and the amount of carbon dioxide reaching dangerous levels in our atmosphere, it would seem that this new idea holds potential for aiding mitigation of the UN IPCC’s concerns.

Lorne Oja can be reached at lorne@carbon2solar.com

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