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Giant kelp farms to save the world!


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#1 Eclipse

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Posted 7 January 2017 - 10:21 PM

Tim Flannery talks about using 9% of the world's oceans to farm kelp to sequester 40 Gigatons of carbon emissions annually, or roughly 2ppm CO2 per year. goo.gl/n6iFdG

Seaweed farming is already an established industry in many countries, but this project would be expanding it by 20,000 times.
https://en.wikipedia...Seaweed_farming
 
Thoughts:-
 
* SYNGAS FROM SEAWEED TO BACKUP ALL RENEWABLES WORLDWIDE! A ton of CO2 concentrated into biomass is about a ton of wood. 40 Gigatons would 40 cubic kilometres of woody waste to dispose of each year. We already know how to biochar any dried biomass waste. 40 cubic kilometres into a biochar unit could produce maybe 20 cubic km of biochar and 20 cubic km of synthetic gas to replace petroleum and natural gas? Wow that's a lot. That's vastly more than the 'cubic mile of oil' we use a year (or 1.6 cubic km). That kind of syngas is ... truly unimaginable. An energy baron's dream. Surely that makes backing up renewables possible. Solar & wind during the day, seaweed syngas at night. Done!
 
* CURRENTLY we farm nearly 2.5 million tons of seaweed. http://www.un.org/de.../Chapter_14.pdf
 
* COWS: Seaweed can be fed to cows, just to supplement their diet a little, which has been shown to reduce their methane burps close to zero  https://goo.gl/J27gw0
 
* SEQUESTERING LONG TERM: First, once we've switched to a CO2 neutral energy system like renewables + seaweed syngas as backup, we could use just a fraction of the 20 cubic km as biochar for soil remediation. Biochar in the soil is great, but tends to break down in a half life cycle of about 80 years. But there's a lot of soil that needs repair. But we're producing a LOT of biochar ! So once we've thoroughly rehabilitated ALL our farmland soils with biochar, and maybe some pasturelands as well (35% of the non-ice surface of the earth), what do we do with the rest to sequester it? Use industrial presses to crush it into bricks, maybe with a biomimicry agent to cement it, and then start rebuilding those coal-topped mountains with it? We've got to get rid of 20 cubic km's a year! Crush it into bricks and drop in the deep ocean? How does biochar interact with sea microorganisms: would it be better to powder it into the ocean to stimulate other systems?

 


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#2 Moontanman

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Posted 8 January 2017 - 02:59 AM

Interesting, can we eat sea weed too? 


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#3 Danijel Gorupec

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Posted 8 January 2017 - 01:42 PM

Producing more sea weed is probably a good idea... Although using 9% of world oceans seems quite unrealistic to me. (In fact, I think and I hope that we will not choose any one single megalomaniac idea to pursue, but we will purse hundred of them in parallel in order to 'save the world').

 

But the very first step, I would say, must be to un-shrink that cubic mile back to its 4.1 cubic km value :)


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#4 Essay

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 12:01 AM

 

Tim Flannery talks about using 9% of the world's oceans to farm kelp to sequester 40 Gigatons of carbon emissions annually, or roughly 2ppm CO2 per year. goo.gl/n6iFdG

Seaweed farming is already an established industry in many countries, but this project would be expanding it by 20,000 times.
https://en.wikipedia...Seaweed_farming
 
Thoughts:-
 
* SYNGAS FROM SEAWEED TO BACKUP ALL RENEWABLES WORLDWIDE! A ton of CO2 concentrated into biomass is about a ton of wood. 40 Gigatons would 40 cubic kilometres of woody waste to dispose of each year. We already know how to biochar any dried biomass waste. 40 cubic kilometres into a biochar unit could produce maybe 20 cubic km of biochar and 20 cubic km of synthetic gas to replace petroleum and natural gas? Wow that's a lot. That's vastly more than the 'cubic mile of oil' we use a year (or 1.6 cubic km). That kind of syngas is ... truly unimaginable. An energy baron's dream. Surely that makes backing up renewables possible. Solar & wind during the day, seaweed syngas at night. Done!
 
* CURRENTLY we farm nearly 2.5 million tons of seaweed. http://www.un.org/de.../Chapter_14.pdf
 
* COWS: Seaweed can be fed to cows, just to supplement their diet a little, which has been shown to reduce their methane burps close to zero  https://goo.gl/J27gw0
 
* SEQUESTERING LONG TERM: First, once we've switched to a CO2 neutral energy system like renewables + seaweed syngas as backup, we could use just a fraction of the 20 cubic km as biochar for soil remediation. Biochar in the soil is great, but tends to break down in a half life cycle of about 80 years. But there's a lot of soil that needs repair. But we're producing a LOT of biochar ! So once we've thoroughly rehabilitated ALL our farmland soils with biochar, and maybe some pasturelands as well (35% of the non-ice surface of the earth), what do we do with the rest to sequester it? Use industrial presses to crush it into bricks, maybe with a biomimicry agent to cement it, and then start rebuilding those coal-topped mountains with it? We've got to get rid of 20 cubic km's a year! Crush it into bricks and drop in the deep ocean? How does biochar interact with sea microorganisms: would it be better to powder it into the ocean to stimulate other systems?

 

 

...hopefully, by the time we need to think about excess biochar, our carbon emissions will be much lower and the critical balances restored,

so the program could be scaled back to some "maintenance" level.  But....

 

 

This is the sort of "geoengineering" we need to be doing!

 

It can help undo several of the hazardous geo-changes that civilization has already engineered, increasingly, over the past several millennia*, centuries, and decades.

 

Restoring our croplands and rangelands, as well as restoring the CO2 balance, is key to sustainably feeding billions of people as this century unfolds.  

It is like biomimicry, or maybe that should be called "ecomimicry," in that this sounds like geoengineering that helps restore the base of the food chain.

~

 

*per Ruddiman hypothesis


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#5 Ken Fabian

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 11:15 PM

Unless sequestering CO2 is a low cost consequence of profitable kelp farming for other reasons it's no more than one more thought bubble. There may be sound reasons for activities that increase biosequestration - increased soil carbon, re-forestation - but I can't see how they can put enough Carbon back into sinks and stores to replace what clearing and agriculture took out let alone all the extra from excessive fossil fuel burning. That we are failing to do so in a prompt and adequate manner doesn't alter the clear imperative to drastically reduce that rate of burning and if we continue to fail no amount of kelp farming or biochar will prevent serious and irreversible climate change.

Edited by Ken Fabian, 10 January 2017 - 11:16 PM.

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#6 EdEarl

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 12:27 AM

Unless sequestering CO2 is a low cost consequence of profitable kelp farming for other reasons it's no more than one more thought bubble. There may be sound reasons for activities that increase biosequestration - increased soil carbon, re-forestation - but I can't see how they can put enough Carbon back into sinks and stores to replace what clearing and agriculture took out let alone all the extra from excessive fossil fuel burning. That we are failing to do so in a prompt and adequate manner doesn't alter the clear imperative to drastically reduce that rate of burning and if we continue to fail no amount of kelp farming or biochar will prevent serious and irreversible climate change.

As robots take our jobs, they can recycle and restore the environment. It's just a mater of robots making robots until there are enough to restore the environment. It may take 100 years or more, and maybe it will be a continuing effort forever. Our current ideas about economics will be obsolete soon.


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#7 Ken Fabian

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 05:19 AM

EdEarl, I think that without the low emissions energy technologies underpinning their production and use, robots will just add to rather than reduce the emissions problems. Automation/robotics will undoubtedly play a role in making those improved energy techologies at the scales needed but the emissions problem will only be solved by addressing the emissions problem, not by cleaning up the mess it makes afterwards.
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#8 EdEarl

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 05:44 AM

I believe batteries will be powerful enough to make electric airplanes, cars, trucks, and heavy equipment in little over five years, which means solar PV, now the least expensive power, and batteries are beginning to replace oil and coal. It will take more than 20 years for the replacement to be complete, and there will be lots of clean up to do. Low emissions technology is assured. Oil and coal are on their last legs as major power sources.


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#9 Ken Fabian

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 11:05 PM

I believe batteries will be powerful enough to make electric airplanes, cars, trucks, and heavy equipment in little over five years, which means solar PV, now the least expensive power, and batteries are beginning to replace oil and coal. It will take more than 20 years for the replacement to be complete, and there will be lots of clean up to do. Low emissions technology is assured. Oil and coal are on their last legs as major power sources.

 

I would like to believe we have that kind of battery technology in the near future and I can see it's heading in the right direction. I'm not convinced it is truly assured any time soon at the scales and relative costs needed, especially not without firm, appropriate energy policy applied with great conviction - or the absence of inappropriate energy policy applied with great conviction.  Nor do I think massive growth of robotics can occur without adding it's own environmental and economic burdens; they may have some potential to tackle some difficult problems but too many of the most critical problems are not presenting themselves as profit making opportunities. The political fallout of ever greater loss of employment opportunities to automation might be ever greater support flowing to the kinds of populist political opportunism that prevents foresight and planning being applied in a thoughtful and far-sighted manner.


Edited by Ken Fabian, 11 January 2017 - 11:06 PM.

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#10 EdEarl

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 11:28 PM

According to Elon Musk, batteries are improving about 5% /yr, which means about 5 years to make NY-LA flights possible, unless I made a mistake.

 

Industrial robot arms are about $20K and up, with prices falling. My guess may be a bit too aggressive, but I think in five years we will see reasonably priced household robots. At the same time, jobs will be disappearing.

 

I believe whatever rate you envision would be easier on everyone; I hope you are right.


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#11 Ken Fabian

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 12:27 AM

EdEarl, although I am very optimistic that crucial limitations of energy storage can be overcome I'm a bit wary of predictions of rates of battery improvements - it's going to be dependent on the actual tech developments feeding into the commercialisation pipeline rather than extrapolation based on observed rates of change. Some costs can be expected to come down in the near term due to improvements in manufacturing methods and economies of scale, including because of automation and I think we can see that with Tesla. These tend to be improvements that reduce the costs of existing and incrementally improving technologies but I suspect there will be diminishing returns over time; the most significant innovations, the real game changers - such as major improvements in energy density that commercial electric aircraft would require - are going to remain unpredictable.


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