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Offline Jimbee

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« on: 27/06/2009 02:34:33 »
Well, as I have already said (here: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=23393.new#new), I have some scientific theories of my own, some related to global warming. In my previous post, I have already gone into my theory of biologically engineering a super plant that processess CO2 into oxygen at a much higher rate. Some of you think this is unfeasible. So I will offer you my second theory:

Why not use chemistry itself to process CO2 into oxygen? Let me explain. There must be some simple chemical reactions that produce oxygen from carbon dioxide. It has been a while since I took a chemistry class. But I am sure it could be done. So why not just open up factories whose only function is to create oxygen this way, and also eliminate carbon dioxide in one step? Maybe they could even use chlorophyll for this purpose, I don't know.

Before I posted this message, I did some serious thinking about whether or not I should have posted this in a separate thread than the first one. I concluded I should, since it is a separate idea after all. Moderators, if I am wrong, please accept my sincere apologies and feel free to add this to my first thread.

Once again, I would love to share this idea with some scientist somewhere. And as always, I look forward to your responses :).


 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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« Reply #1 on: 27/06/2009 03:01:50 »
Because it will take energy to produce the reactants, so it will burn fossil fuels anyway.
« Last Edit: 27/06/2009 03:05:08 by Madidus_Scientia »
 

Offline witsend

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« Reply #2 on: 27/06/2009 05:03:42 »
Hi Jimbee.  I never read your previous idea that we should develop a super plant to take up carbon dioxide.  Why was that idea 'quashed'.  I think they're trying to do this in seeding the Southern oceans with some iron to encourage the growth of phytoplankton.  Not exactly a superplant but what it lacks in size it gains in number.  I think the concerns related to this are that it will encourage an explosion of animals that feed off the plankton which - in turn - will bring on a whole lot of new problems - not least of which is more animals - more carbon output.  But notwithstanding protest I believe that experiment has been done.  I seem to remember that there was an intended seeding range of roughly 200 square miles?   Not heard of any results yet.

So, in essense your idea is already being exploited.  My idea to create a super plant would be this.  The cost to Planet Earth is that every person in the world must plant a tree.  Experts choose the tree type and place to plant, and you pay for the maintenance of that tree throughout your life.  That way we might get a reasonable number of trees planted - eventually.  That's got to help.  And looked at collectively, so to speak, that's got to be a super planting - if not exactly a superplant.

Regarding the uptake of carbon from carbon dioxide.  Isn't that the holy grail of current research? The point is that carbon readily bonds with oxygen.  The trick is to store the carbon waste better.  Release it in the air and it'll stick to oxygen like velcro.  Then - because it's a gas - it stays in the atmosphere.  Plants have learned the trick of using that molecule.  So, in a sense, we animals have a symbiotic relationship with the entire plant kingdom.  They take up our waste, and we take up theirs.  Quite neat really. 

So perhaps we should get a global consensus on the price to pay for being human.  Nurture some trees.  That's got to help.  You'll probably guess I'm a tree hugger.
 

Offline Shadec

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« Reply #3 on: 27/06/2009 06:08:12 »
ok, before i continue, i am NOT saying high CO2 emmissions are a good thing, but...

that wouldnt really work, decomposition of chemicals is a lot more complex than just opening a factory to do it.

CO2 is essential, without it, plants cannot produce glucose and O2, and everything dies.
also, when you increase the reactants in a chemical reaction, the equation shifts to the right, ie. plants make more O2!

anyway, just read what other people post, and really, one of the best things you can do is plant tons of trees. :P
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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« Reply #4 on: 27/06/2009 07:36:49 »
1 tree per person is insignificant. Lock yourself in an airtight glasshouse with just you and the tree, it won't sustain your own requirements let alone that of your car, the power for your house, etc. I remember hearing that it would take a forest the size of Australia to make any significant positive impact. I'm all for filling my desert with trees if you can find a way to get enough fresh water to it all without releasing more CO2 than the trees would take up.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20071029/ai_n21075752/
Quote
"Plankton are more efficient than trees at removing CO2. It takes a 10,000 hectare forest about 20 years to sequester the same amount of carbon that a similar sized 'plankton forest' can remove in just six months," said Coleman.

The phytoplankton fertilizing is a much more feasable idea, but as already mentioned is not without its own problems.
« Last Edit: 28/06/2009 02:56:02 by Madidus_Scientia »
 

Offline witsend

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« Reply #5 on: 27/06/2009 07:55:57 »
Madidus_Scientia  - I don't mean you to plant where trees don't grow.  The experts choose the best place.  But I hear you.  If we need one forest per person then it will only work if we limit population growth to the number of trees that would be sustainable.  That's not a bad idea.  How about, people can have as many children as they like provided that they can pay that tree tax?

The question is how to impose that tax.  The families with more children could greatly outnumber those with a few and - if majority consensus carries, then the more children will eventually get the most say.  And my guess is they wont endorse the tree tax.  Pretty good argument against democracy I think.  And without democracy where would we be? 

Actually by the same token WITH democracy where are we going?  In any event it's not appropriate discussion on a science forum.

What is the 'actual trick' to photosynthesis?  Maybe Jimbee has a point.  Perhaps if we could discover this - some means to strip carbon away from two oxygen atoms - with the use of sunlight and a little bit of water?  That's got to be a winning formula.  If we could find it.
 

Offline witsend

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« Reply #6 on: 27/06/2009 08:04:28 »
also, when you increase the reactants in a chemical reaction, the equation shifts to the right, ie. plants make more O2! Shadoc

I can't understand this?  How does the equation shift to the right?
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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« Reply #7 on: 27/06/2009 08:13:44 »
Madidus_Scientia  - I don't mean you to plant where trees don't grow.  The experts choose the best place.  But I hear you.  If we need one forest per person then it will only work if we limit population growth to the number of trees that would be sustainable.  That's not a bad idea.  How about, people can have as many children as they like provided that they can pay that tree tax?

The question is how to impose that tax.  The families with more children could greatly outnumber those with a few and - if majority consensus carries, then the more children will eventually get the most say.  And my guess is they wont endorse the tree tax.  Pretty good argument against democracy I think.  And without democracy where would we be? 

Actually by the same token WITH democracy where are we going?  In any event it's not appropriate discussion on a science forum.

What is the 'actual trick' to photosynthesis?  Maybe Jimbee has a point.  Perhaps if we could discover this - some means to strip carbon away from two oxygen atoms - with the use of sunlight and a little bit of water?  That's got to be a winning formula.  If we could find it.

The best place would be where we currently grow all our food crops. Replacing food crops obviously brings problems.
Artificial photosynthesis can be done but plants are more efficient anyway.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_photosynthesis
 

Offline witsend

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« Reply #8 on: 27/06/2009 08:25:46 »
Madidus_Scientia - I read that link.  It's way too depressing.  But at least there's effort in that direction.  And who knows - perhaps they'll get an answer.  I also read the link on those companies that are hoping to  capitalise on phytoplankton blooms.  I did not realise that the actual threat was in the waste from dead plankton.  I would have thought that the actual consequences, re possible increase in methane and such like - could be established fairly quickly.  If proven to be relatively minor than I'm all for seeding the oceans.  But it's only a short term benefit.  Sooner or later we've got to solve the problem of clean energy. 
 

Offline witsend

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« Reply #9 on: 27/06/2009 08:39:25 »
Actually I've just thought of something.  You know how life began in the oceans.  Maybe it only left the oceans because of overcrowding.  In which case - the early oceans would have had a great deal of iron - being in plentiful supply in the early days of our earth before accreting into various bonded forms.  This may have resulted in the teaming fish and ocean life as well as providing surplus oxygen that we have in our atmosphere today -  which is now being exploited by land life. 

Therefore, a re-introduction of iron to the oceans may replicate the early conditions of our earth.  The resultant vastly increased plankton blooms will then add to the oxygen - strip away our surplus carbon - and get our oceans, once again, teaming with life.  Who knows?  It may be the solution. 

What I do know is that we are also systematically depleting the ocean of it's fish - as well as filling our skies with way too much waste.  Perhaps the trick IS to 'fertilise' so to speak - the oceans themselves. 
« Last Edit: 27/06/2009 08:41:35 by witsend »
 

Offline witsend

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« Reply #10 on: 27/06/2009 08:47:37 »
Apologies for a third consequetive post - but I've thought of something else.  Who monitors that iron seeding?  If the iron falls below a certain level it's not going to do any good.  They need to ensure that the iron is fine enough not to sink to the ocean floor.  I'm certain that for phytoplankton to be able to use it - it also has to be suspended at some optimum depth.  Too dark and the plankton can't get the sunlight they need.  If I were trying to buy credits for seeding I'd at least need to know this. 
 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #11 on: 27/06/2009 17:49:45 »
"There must be some simple chemical reactions that produce oxygen from carbon dioxide. "
Nope.
There are a series of quite complicated ones that do this in plants but they require lots of energy (from the sunlight) to do it.
You need to get the energy from somewhere.
 

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« Reply #12 on: 27/06/2009 22:00:44 »
That's a common hole in many 'alternative' arguments.
 

Offline Shadec

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« Reply #13 on: 30/06/2009 10:04:40 »
also, when you increase the reactants in a chemical reaction, the equation shifts to the right, ie. plants make more O2! Shadoc

I can't understand this?  How does the equation shift to the right?
its ShadEc :P

perhaps i should have worded that better...
 the reaction is as follows:
6CO2(g) + 6H2O(l) → C6H12O6(aq) + 6O2(g)
(if thats not balanced properly, its because im really tired, plus im lazy :P)

its basic chemistry, when you increase the reactants (Carbon dioxide and water), or decrease the products (glucose and oxygen), then the reaction will shift to the RIGHT (ie. produce more products - more glucose and oxygen).
similarly, if you decrease the reactants, and/or increse the products, the reaction will 'slow'.

this is more evident with equilibrium reactions (ie chemical reaction formulas with "reversible arrow" in them), as the chemicals will actually react and split to minimalise the disturbance.
eg N2(g) + 3H2(g) reversible arrow 2NH3(g) + heat
if you increase the ammonia gas, it will shift to the LEFT, ie, the ammonia will split into nitrogen and hydrogen; in the same way, if yo add more nitrogen and hydrogen, then much more ammonia will be produced. (this is an exothermic reaction, so temp also plays a part in this, but thats just makes it more complicated)

 
Apologies for a third consequetive post - but I've thought of something else.  Who monitors that iron seeding?  If the iron falls below a certain level it's not going to do any good.  They need to ensure that the iron is fine enough not to sink to the ocean floor.
iron particulates by themselves are not going to be much use, (i assume) it would have to be iron ions or salts, much like iron supplements are not ground up iron dust.
.
 

Offline Shadec

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« Reply #14 on: 30/06/2009 10:08:59 »
Actually I've just thought of something.  You know how life began in the oceans.  Maybe it only left the oceans because of overcrowding.  In which case - the early oceans would have had a great deal of iron - being in plentiful supply in the early days of our earth before accreting into various bonded forms.  This may have resulted in the teaming fish and ocean life as well as providing surplus oxygen that we have in our atmosphere today -  which is now being exploited by land life. 

Therefore, a re-introduction of iron to the oceans may replicate the early conditions of our earth.  The resultant vastly increased plankton blooms will then add to the oxygen - strip away our surplus carbon - and get our oceans, once again, teaming with life.  Who knows?  It may be the solution. 

What I do know is that we are also systematically depleting the ocean of it's fish - as well as filling our skies with way too much waste.  Perhaps the trick IS to 'fertilise' so to speak - the oceans themselves. 

why iron? what made you think of that? theres no way you just thought of it! where did you read it?
 from the assumptions etc you've been making, its clear that this just isnt your forte (absolutely no offence meant whatsoever).

this has been a common idea for a long time, and supported by MANY very influential scientists, but it just doesnt have the financial backing, nor the popularity. plus, the toxic effects and repercussions of dumping the level of iron required into the ocean are... questionable, and yet to be fully understood. Haemochromatosis (or 'Hyper-ferrism', high levels of iron ions in the blood and body) is very dangerous, only a small amount of excess iron permanently damages the heart and brain
EDIT: my apologies, i only just saw the link.
« Last Edit: 30/06/2009 10:21:22 by Shadec »
 

Offline witsend

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« Reply #15 on: 30/06/2009 11:39:23 »
why iron? what made you think of that? theres no way you just thought of it! where did you read it? Shadec

Apologies for not spelling the name right.  Iron is the single most plentiful atom - as I understood it?  Is that wrong?  If SO, then presumably there was PLENTY in the early stages of earth's development.  My proposal was simply that - if plentiful and substantially 'unbonded' - it may have been the catalyst to the growth of Phytoplanktons.  Just a thought. 

No I did not read it anywhere.  So if it's wrong - entirely my own error.

Thanks for explaning the 'right' thing.  Did not realise you were (edit) LITERALLY referring to an equation.
« Last Edit: 30/06/2009 13:21:47 by witsend »
 

Offline witsend

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« Reply #16 on: 30/06/2009 12:04:03 »
from the assumptions etc you've been making, its clear that this just isnt your forte (absolutely no offence meant whatsoever). Shadec

WHAT is not my forte?  If you're referring to my ability to make assumptions there are those who would entirely disagreee with you.  ASSUMPTIONS are my forte. It's the qualification of those assumptions that may, perhaps, be wanting.
 

Offline thebrain13

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« Reply #17 on: 15/07/2009 10:52:19 »
Seeding the oceans is a realy bad idea, and it has such an obvious logic flaw, I can't believe people do it at all. It doesn't matter that the oceans "use up" more co2. You can't "use" co2, you can merely transform it into something else, which is probably just going to turn into something that is going to turn right back into co2.

For example, plankton grows and transforms co2 into carbon and oxygen, the oxygen floats away, but the carbon turns into building blocks for its body. Whale comes along eats the plankton, bonds the carbon from the planktons body to oxygen, and viola releases it right back into the atmosphere as co2. The fact that the oceans use up more oxygen than land is irrelevant, and coming up with plants that "use up" more co2 is irrelevant. Its not about using co2, its about storing it. If something uses co2 then dies and then releases it back into the atmosphere that is a completely lateral turn of events.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #18 on: 15/07/2009 11:26:46 »
why iron? what made you think of that? theres no way you just thought of it! where did you read it? Shadec
Iron is the single most plentiful atom - as I understood it?  Is that wrong? 

No. Iron isn't that common, particularly not in seawater because that's slightly alkaline and the iron is precipitated as hydroxides.
 

Offline BenV

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« Reply #19 on: 15/07/2009 11:30:23 »
Seeding the oceans is a realy bad idea, and it has such an obvious logic flaw, I can't believe people do it at all. It doesn't matter that the oceans "use up" more co2. You can't "use" co2, you can merely transform it into something else, which is probably just going to turn into something that is going to turn right back into co2.

For example, plankton grows and transforms co2 into carbon and oxygen, the oxygen floats away, but the carbon turns into building blocks for its body. Whale comes along eats the plankton, bonds the carbon from the planktons body to oxygen, and viola releases it right back into the atmosphere as co2. The fact that the oceans use up more oxygen than land is irrelevant, and coming up with plants that "use up" more co2 is irrelevant. Its not about using co2, its about storing it. If something uses co2 then dies and then releases it back into the atmosphere that is a completely lateral turn of events.

The idea with the ocean seeding is that a significant proportion of plankton will die and sink to the ocean floor - thus trapping that carbon for an intermediate period.  It's not as good as locking it up in rock, of course, but it would be longer than the usual carbon cycle.
 

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