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The production of high concentration (or pure) carbon dioxide flue gases from the calcination of limestone provides an opportunity to allow the production of biomass in arid environments.
At the same time that plants obtain carbon dioxide from the air, they lose water into the air. On a hot, dry day plants have the ‘choice’ of either going ‘thirsty’ or ‘hungry’ – if they open their stomata – the holes in their leaves that allow the diffusion of carbon dioxide into the plant – then they can obtain carbon dioxide, but they will lose water. If they close their stomata they lose less water, but cannot obtain the carbon dioxide that they need to perform photosynthesis. When water is plentiful plants are able to lose water as they obtain carbon dioxide, but when water is scarce they cannot obtain carbon dioxide. Conventionally we think of a desert as an area that is lacking in water – in reality it is the scarcity of carbon dioxide (and plants inability to ‘trade’ water for carbon dioxide) that restricts the growth of plants. By supplying carbon dioxide to plants in a desert, they can get by with far less water.
This part of the idea is less developed than the ‘adding lime to seawater’ part, but could be just as, if not more, important. Initial conversations with specialists in the areas of algae cultivation and water resource management are positive, but we need to develop this further. We are interested to hear from anyone who has worked on anything similar and to find out what are the barriers to making this work in a practical way.
If you have any experience in, or knowledge of, this area then please get in touch with us. This project cannot progress without your input.
The process will have impacts on the environment: on terrestrial systems due to mining activities, on atmospheric systems due to the calcining process, on aquatic systems due to disposal of lime into seawater. While it is important to focus on the potential harmful effects of the process, it is important to also determine the potential beneficial effects of the process: reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, mitigation of ocean acidification and production of biomass in arid environments.
- At what concentration can calcium hydroxide solution be added to seawater, so that it has a beneficial, rather than detrimental, impact on the marine environment?
If you are able to help answer any of these questions, please get in touch with us. This project cannot progress without your input.