Saturday, February 17, 2024

This Seems Like a Stupid Project

WUWT, Scientists Look to Fight Climate Change by Dumping 6,000 Gallons of Chemicals into Ocean Near Martha’s Vineyard

A team of scientists is looking to dump chemicals into waters off the coast of Massachusetts this summer to research whether doing so could be an effective counter to ocean acidification and climate change, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The project would see researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) pour approximately 6,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide — a component of lye — into waters ten miles away from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in August 2024, according to the WSJ. The research project, estimated to cost about $10 million in total, will receive taxpayer funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signs off on releasing the chemicals.

The underlying concept is to see if the basic sodium hydroxide can reduce the acidity of ocean waters and make those waters more efficient repositories of carbon dioxide, according to the WSJ. Sodium hydroxide is a common ingredient in soaps and cleaning solutions, and it can be harmful to humans in high concentrations, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

Of course you can make seawater more basic by adding sodium hydroxide to it. Water chemistry at that level is very well established. How much depended on how much seawater it's mixed with. I have have one warning. It's a damn big ocean. You may be able to raise the pH of the water by adding lye, but seawater is constantly moving around and mixing, and the effect will soon be diluted away.

Pure sodium hydroxide solutions are great at scavenging CO2 from the atmosphere without mixing it with seawater first. Why dilute it with seawater first, if grabbing CO2 is your goal?

And do you know how sodium hydroxide is manufactured commercially? By electrolyzing water (with salt in it to make it conductive, and provide the sodium ions). Just where do you think the electricity comes from? In most cases, of course, fossil fuels. So, you're burning fossil fuels to make a substance to extract the by product of fossil fuels from the atmosphere? Makes sense. 

1 comment:

  1. It's used as drain cleaner, if your average citizen needs a reference point. Sounds like a good way to poison a small part of the ocean for a short period of time.

    It may be an interesting experiment scientifically, but as an engineer, it sounds pretty stupid. There is no way this could ever be used on a scale to make a real impact, assuming the carbon dioxide is even much of a threat to the climate. Which I highly doubt.