Empowering people and promoting markets and business partnerships to combat climate change, provide and manage water resources, and store energy: an environmental trifecta
Everyone infers George Washington Carver invented peanut butter. Fewer know the context. Carver actually discovered the benefits of crop rotation using legumes to return nitrogen to the soil. The farmers loved it, but didn’t know what to do with the waste product: peanuts. Carver found 105 markets for them.
Our mission (statement detailed below) includes finding the markets for the carbon sequestration processes and their byproducts, aligned with a recent statement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“The climate is changing and humans are contributing to these changes. We believe that there is much common ground on which all sides of this discussion could come together to address climate change with policies that are practical, flexible, predictable, and durable. We believe in a policy approach that acknowledges the costs of action and inaction and the competitiveness of the U.S. economy.
The Chamber believes that an effective climate policy should:
Leverage the power of business
It will be largely up to the business community to develop, finance, build, and operate the solutions needed to power economic growth worldwide, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and build resilient, lower-carbon infrastructure. Thousands of businesses already are taking action in their own operations and along their value chains by investing in technology solutions and enhancing their efficiency.”
Statement by U.S. Chamber of Commerce: https://www.uschamber.com/climate-change-position
Carbon Negative Water and Energy (CanWE) is a science-driven non-profit devoted to the mitigation of human induced climate change through science driven, non-political education, research, and promotion of technologies to reduce atmospheric carbon levels. Atmospheric carbon levels are part of the carbon “biogeochemical cycle” and are thus tied to other environmental sustainability issues such as freshwater and energy production. CanWe’s mission is “to promote the research, development, education, application, production, economics, marketing, and deployment of related technologies needed to realize the “CanWE Environmental Trifecta.” The CanWE environmental trifecta:
1) reduces climate change by reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere,
2) produces fresh water from desalination, and improves water quality by preventing salinization of water supplies from brine disposal and de-icing practices, as well as neutralizing acid precipitation and acid mine drainage.
3) promotes clean energy by producing energy carriers (lithium and hydrogen) for clean energy storage.
The CanWE Environmental Trifecta can be realized by combining existing processes and industries, with existing recently developed technologies, streamlined along a single, energy economic vector.
The CanWE Environmental Trifecta
With the recent development of some key technologies, existing processes and industries can be combined to solve several major environmental problems simultaneously. The effort requires the cooperation of separate businesses and industries, which requires education and communication of the benefits. The environmental issues that would be addressed fall generally into three categories (an environmental trifecta):
1) Preventing climate change by reducing GHG’s in the atmosphere (GHG sequestration), while at the same time, eliminating brine (salt) wastes associated with the production of freshwater from seawater or brine (desalination), and other brine handling processes. Instead of waste, the brine is used as a substrate to lock-up (sequester) carbon in a carbonate mineral solid (e.g. sodium bicarbonate, calcium and/or magnesium carbonates).
2) Providing fresh water from desalination while producing marketable byproducts in the process, most significantly, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), an acid neutralizer and potential road salt, applying the bicarbonate salts to a) prevent groundwater salinization by replacing chloride road salts with bicarbonate road salts, and b) neutralizing acid in groundwater and surface waters affected by acid precipitation and/or acid mine drainage.
3) Promoting clean energy by producing “energy carriers,” storing the energy that is used in certain types of remote electric applications, including lithium for lithium-battery electric cars, and hydrogen for hydrogen-fuel-cell electric cars, and other hydrogen-fuel-cell applications. Lithium is extracted from naturally occurring groundwater brines, while hydrogen is produced from the electrolysis of groundwater brines, ocean desalination brines, and industrial brines. The brine is thus properly managed with the need for waste disposal eliminated.
Technical Description of the CanWE Environmental Trifecta
A technical description of the three components of the “CNWE environmental trifecta” is as follows:
- Greenhouse gas (GHG) is reduced through the sequestration of carbon, achieved from flue stack capture (FSC), or direct air capture (DAC), of CO2, subsequently incorporated into solid carbonate mineral [MCO3 or MHCO3], or into increased naturally dissolved bicarbonate (HCO3) in groundwater, surface water, and oceans. Dissolved HCO3 can be incorporated into algae for biofuel, fertilizer, or feedstock production. The need for brine waste disposal is eliminated from both seawater and groundwater brine desalination operations. The most common technology for this step usually involves 1) the electrolysis of brine, producing a base MOH, and 2) the aeration of CO2 gas forming carbonic acid, which reacts with the base to produce a carbonate salt [MCO3 or MHCO3].
- Freshwater is produced from the desalination of brine, and is managed through the prevention of salinization from brine handling and road salting, as well as the treatment of the acidification of groundwater and surface waters resulting from acid precipitation and acid mine drainage. MHCO3, replacing MCl in road salting and fertilizer operations, provides “non-point” source application of the bicarbonate for the neutralization of acid precipitation. The elimination of MCl salts prevents the chloride salinization of groundwater and surface waters. MHCO3 can also be applied locally, providing “point” source application for the neutralization of acid mine drainage point sources.
- Clean energy is promoted through the production of energy carriers: lithium extracted from brines, and hydrogen produced from the electrolysis of brine. Other marketable byproducts are produced from the electrolysis process described above, which has existed for over a hundred years, and is already the standard means for the production of these compounds industrially. The marketable byproducts are NaHCO3 and various HxClx compounds, including H2, Cl2, HCl, and ClOx. The H2 can supplement the hydrogen economy. The Cl2 and ClOx compounds can be used in water sanitation. The HCl can be used in various waste digestion (dissolution) practices, particularly organic matter from agriculture (e.g. offal). HCl applied to native metals produces that metal’s chloride plus hydrogen gas.
[Throughout the discussion above, M is most commonly sodium, Na, when referring to univalent cations, and Ca or Mg when referring to divalent cations]