"We all know that carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by burning
fossil fuels, and it can be removed by growing trees and other plants. But the
Earth also has other natural processes (called "carbon sinks") that remove
carbon from the air.
The natural weathering process is an important carbon sink because a chemical
reaction occurs that removes CO2 from the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide from the air collects in rainwater, in the form of carbonic
acid. When it rains, the carbonic acid dissolves minerals that are commonly
found in rocks on the Earth's surface. This produces calcium ions, bicarbonate,
and other compounds that rinse into rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
There, those compounds are digested by marine organisms and incorporated into
their shells and bones as calcium carbonate. Once the marine animals die and
settle on the seafloor, the carbon is sequestered for billions of years. What's
more, the carbonates that form raise the alkalinity of the oceans, allowing
even more CO2 to be absorbed directly by the sea from the atmosphere.
But while CO2 is being pumped into the air at a record pace, this offsetting
process can take millions of years – and planet Earth isn't feeling very
patient these days. So, researchers want to speed up this natural phenomenon by
applying massive amounts of finely ground, carbon-dissolving minerals across
beaches or agricultural land.
Project Vesta plans to leverage the ability of minerals, such as the green
igneous rock olivine, to absorb greenhouse gases as it dissolves. Later this
year, they'll apply a one-centimeter layer of olivine sand to the Caribbean
beach, creating the first real-world test of enhanced mineral weathering to
combat climate change."
Via Robert Sanscartier.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics