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Saving the Planet, v2.0 by Planet Physicians

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Interested in air CO2 removal, carbon-negative fuel, saving the ocean, and redrawing the global energy map? Read further.



Regardless of our CO2 emissions, Nature eventually will return global CO2 to pre-human levels primarily via base (carbonate and silicate) rock weathering (1). Nature’s 100,000 year time frame for this process, however, means that unless we quickly intervene, the earth will unacceptably fry and acidify in the interim.  Thus, it is of interest to consider building on and accelerating this proven, global scale geochemical CO2 mitigation process while we also strive to transition from our carbon-positive energy existence. We propose to research a process that simultaneously addresses both of these issues by merging rock weathering and renewable energy in a novel electrochemical process.

It has been demonstrated (2-5) that strategically placing common rock minerals around the acidic anode of a standard, functioning saline water electrolysis cell not only produces H2, and O2 or Cl2, but also generates a solution that is strongly absorptive of air CO2. This spontaneously converts the CO2 to stable bicarbonates and/or carbonates in solution.

The preceding points the way toward employing common rock minerals, salt solutions (seawater, brines), and renewable energy (e.g., wind, solar, ocean, geothermal) in a system that can remove CO2 from air while also generating a carbon-negative fuel, H2.  The global abundance of these reactants and energy sources suggest that the process could be conducted at a significant scale. Furthermore, as in natural rock weathering, the (bi)carbonates added to the ocean by the process will help to chemically offset the effects of CO2-induced ocean acidification (6-8). 

It is proposed that the cost-effectiveness, capacity, environmental impact/benefit, social desirability, and geopolitical implications of this novel, carbon negative fuel production method be evaluated by an international team of scientists, engineers, and environmental, legal, and social experts. 

Category of the action


What actions do you propose?

Who will take these actions?

Where will these actions be taken?

What are other key benefits?

Key benefits:

1) Ocean/air CO2 removal

2) Carbon-negative H2 production

    a) with further CO2 emissions avoidance via:

         i) substitution for carbon-positive H2 production

         ii) substitution for fossil transportation fuel

         iii) utilization as a hydrogen source for synthetic, renewable,  hydrocarbon fuel production

   b) followed by carbon-negative freshwater and electricity production via fuel cell oxidation of the H2

 3) Environmentally benign/useful hydroxide, salt, and/or dissolved (bi)carbonate production

e.g., addition of:

   a) hydroxide to the ocean stabilizes/reduces ocean acidity

   b) hydroxide to the ocean consumes excess ocean CO2 and reduces natural ocean CO2 flux to air

   c) salt to the ocean stabilizes/increases ocean alkalinity, depending on specific salt added

   d) dissolved (bi)carbonate to the ocean stabilizes/increases carbonate saturation state

thus countering excess ocean CO2, acidity, and/or their negative effects on marine chemistry and ecosystems

What are the proposal’s costs?

5 year R&D. estimated $2M

Time line

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