Understanding Global Carbon Cycles

In order to understand the potential of our technologies in the fight against rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2, one must first have a basic understanding of the global carbon cycle.  Essentially, two cycles exist.  The first cycle refers to the long-term (measured in terms of millions of years) cycle that includes trapped carbon that is released via out-gassing of CO2 associated with volcanic activity as well as the metamorphic weathering of limestone (calcium carbonate) rocks. The second carbon cycle, the fast carbon cycle (measured in minutes to hundreds of years), involves the biological conversion of CO2 to organic matter and the subsequent oxidation of the organic matter by respiration.  Only a tiny fraction of organic carbon escapes respiratory oxidation and is incorporated into the lithosphere forming fossil fuels. This process transfers carbon from the fast, biologically driven cycle to the slow, tectonically driven cycle. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels accelerates the long-term cycle, releasing trapped CO2 into the fast cycle much more quickly than under natural conditions.

Sequestration

Sequestration techniques refer to those methods that seek to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere, lowering concentrations, and storing it into geological reservoirs. The optimal sequestration method should ideally satisfy three main criteria.  The method should be effective in that CO2 is sequestered for long periods of time, equivalent to the long-term carbon cycle.  Furthermore, the method should be safe and cost effective.  Various sequestration approaches have been developed over the years, including a number of methodologies that involve reforestation and aforestation and storing CO2 in the earth’s cavities. GEA@275 Carbon Dioxide removal technology will replicate nature’s own way of storing carbon in the long-term carbon cycle.  

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