Removal of CO2 from the terrestrial atmosphere to curtail global warming: From methodology to laboratory prototype

Andrea E Orton, Purdue University


This research has focused on the initial phase of required investigations in pursuit of a global scale methodology for reduction of CO 2 in terrestrial air for the purpose of curtailment of global warming. This methodology was initially presented by Agee, Orton, and Rogers (2013), and has provided the basis for pursuing this thesis research. The first objective of the research project was to design and build a laboratory prototype system, capable of depleting CO2 from terrestrial air at 1 bar of pressure through LN2 refrigeration. Design considerations included a 26.5L cylindrical Pyrex glass sequestration chamber, a container to hold a reservoir of LN2 and an interface between the two to allow for cooling and instrumentation ports for measurements inside the sequestration chamber. Further, consideration was given to the need for appropriate insulating material to enclose the assembled apparatus to help achieve efficient cooling and the threshold depositional temperature of 135 K. The Amy Facility in the Department of Chemistry provided critical expertise to machine the apparatus to specifications, especially the stainless steel interface plate. Research into available insulating materials resulted in the adaption of TRYMER ® 2500 Polyisocyanurate, effective down to 90 K. The above described DAC prototype designed for CO2 sequestration accomplished two of the initial research objectives investigated: 1) conduct refrigeration experiments to achieve CO2 terrestrial deposition temperature of 135 K (uniformly) and 2) deplete CO2 from the chamber air at 1 bar of pressure, documented by appropriate measurements. It took approximately 5.5 hours for the chamber to be completely uniform in temperature of 135 K (and below) through the use of LN2 poured into the container sitting on an aluminum interface on top of the sequestration Pyrex chamber. As expected, Rayleigh-Taylor instability (more dense fluid over less dense fluid) was observed through the duration of the experiments, which helped to achieve approximate uniform temperature within the sequestration chamber. The lowest temperature achieved in any experiment was 125 K. Using ambient laboratory air to fill the chamber naturally, CO2 depletion was observed to be 90% with residual CO2 contained in air that was pulled through the leaks into the sequestration chamber. CO2 values were taken from 440-500 ppmv down to 30-50 ppmv, in the series of experiments executed. An appropriate new consideration for the sequestration process is to determine how the CO2 is being deposited within the chamber, i.e. on the base of the aluminum plate (and possibly the side walls of the chamber) in the form of frost, or as a CO2 cloud of suspended dry ice particles through deposition of CO2 gas onto Ice Nuclei (IN), or by a combination of both processes. Although this was an early envisioned research goal, such was not pursued in this M.S. thesis research. Further, CO2 snow would only be expected if large amounts of CO2 gas were sequestered, producing a precipitating cloud.




Agee, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Atmospheric sciences

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