Seawater Can Be Turned Into Fuel, While Reducing Carbon Dioxide & This Is What All Of Us Need
With climate change as serious as it is, just trying to lower our pollution levels isn’t enough, we need to be actively fighting the damage we’ve caused.
Now, a new study shows we may actually be able to do that, with plain old seawater.
A study led by Greg Rau, from the University of California in Santa Cruz, shows that we might have a powerful tool at our disposal to scrub carbon dioxide from the air. Get this, we can do this by splitting seawater atoms and producing hydrogen gas for fuel at the same time.
Electrolysis is a process by which you use a direct electric current to force a chemical reaction in otherwise non-spontaneous chemicals. In this case, the study talks about using electrolysis to split the atoms in seawater into hydrogen gas, though with a slight difference.
One change they suggested is using special membrane filters to separate the hydrogen and hydroxide ions output during electrolysis. Adding that hydroxide to the water allows it to absorb CO2 from the air and turn it into bicarbonate. Without the filter, the presence of the hydrogen ions would instead dissolve the CO2 in the water, which is also bad.
The basic idea is that, CO2 in the atmosphere is converted into bicarbonate that goes into the ocean, which won’t harm the ecosystem in any way. On top of that, the study points out, if you use renewable energy like solar and wind to power the electrolysis, you’re effectively converting it into the hydrogen fuel.
Additionally, the researchers estimate the cost of such an operation would be between $3 (approximately Rs 200) to $161 (approximately Rs 11,000) per ton of captured CO2, depending on the kind of renewable energy used to power it. That’s cheaper even than biofuels being considered as a fossil fuel substitute today.
And it would be a pretty effective CO2 scrubber, if we could implement it on a large enough scale. Hypothetically, if every renewable energy resource in the world was devoted to this kind of plant, we could capture and eliminate twice as much carbon dioxide in a year as we emit.
Despite its narrow drawbacks (and there are a couple) the researchers argue it’s worth pursuing this idea further. After all, it might be the tool we need to save our planet from ourselves.