Co2 to Coal

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm new here and I'm in no way a Science person or a Eco person. The fact is that I'm an Accounting major with an idea.

Would it be possible to take CO2, remove the oxygen and concentrate the Carbon into coal?

I got this idea while watching part of a "green" show. They were showing how this group of people where pumping CO2 into the ground. I just thought it would be neat to see if this was possible.

Like I said, I haven't taken Chemistry since High School and while in college I took Earth Science.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Ygggdrasil
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It is possible, but you need to consider the thermodynamics. Chemistry is not like accounting where you can convert your money into stocks then convert the stocks into money and come out with a profit. Any chemical conversion involves a net loss of usable energy. Therefore, it would take more energy to convert CO2 into coal than the energy you could generate from burning that same amount of coal (or else you would essentially have a perpetual motion machine, breaking the 2nd law of thermodynamics).
 
  • #3
OmCheeto
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I'm new here and I'm in no way a Science person or a Eco person. The fact is that I'm an Accounting major with an idea.

Would it be possible to take CO2, remove the oxygen and concentrate the Carbon into coal?

I got this idea while watching part of a "green" show. They were showing how this group of people where pumping CO2 into the ground. I just thought it would be neat to see if this was possible.

Like I said, I haven't taken Chemistry since High School and while in college I took Earth Science.
I don't know too much about the chemical structure of coal, but I would imagine it would be much easier just to plant a bunch trees.

Though people are working similar ideas to your own:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16621-sunpowered-device-converts-co2-into-fuel.html"
18 February 2009

The energy provided by the sunlight transformed the carbon dioxide and water vapour into methane and related organic compounds, such as ethane and propane, at rates as high as 160 microlitres an hour per gram of nanotubes.
though he goes on to say:

"If you tried to build a commercial system using what we have accomplished to date, you'd go broke," admits Grimes. But he is confident that commercially viable results are possible.
As an accountant, you should well know that if your expenses exceed your profits, then there's no private industry in the world that is going to fund your idea.

Hence, just spit apple seeds all over your yard. It's cheap, and does the same thing. Personally, I've got bing cherry trees all over my property. When they get too tall, I chop them down, burn them in the wood stove, and plant more seeds.

And I should point out that https://courseware.e-education.psu.edu/courses/egee101/L03_coal/L03_coal_origins2.html" [Broken].

And burning wood isn't all that horrific in terms of energy per pound as compared to coal:

http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/wcee/keep/Mod1/Whatis/energyresourcetables.htm" [Broken]
1 ton coal = 16,200,000 to 26,000,000 Btu
1 ton wood = 9,000,000 to 17,000,000 Btu
Especially considering the cost. If you're a seed spitter that is.
 
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  • #4
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I don't know too much about the chemical structure of coal, but I would imagine it would be much easier just to plant a bunch trees.
Planting trees is certainly easy. Whether it's cheaper than direct CO2 to coal conversion using solar power, that remains to be seen. Trees grow extremely slowly, it can take 20 years to grow a decent size tree from seed. You have to set aside a piece of land that could've otherwise used to generate profit, either by building a house, a road, using it to grow foodstuffs, laying solar panels or building wind turbines. Trees may need to be irrigated.

And the worst thing about trees vs. coal, is that coal is a relatively inert substance, and trees easily decay. Dead leaves will decay within a year or two, releasing 100% of captured carbon back into the atmosphere. Tree trunks take longer, but they too will release carbon, making the entire exercise futile - unless you go to extreme pains to protect them from decay, perhaps by burying them in abandoned mines and then sealing them with concrete.
 
  • #5
OmCheeto
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Planting trees is certainly easy. Whether it's cheaper than direct CO2 to coal conversion using solar power, that remains to be seen.
That's some fancy economic theory you've got going on there if you can tell me how popping a cherry seed onto the ground cost me anything.
Trees grow extremely slowly, it can take 20 years to grow a decent size tree from seed.
Yup. No more "flip that house".
You have to set aside a piece of land that could've otherwise used to generate profit, either by building a house, a road, using it to grow foodstuffs, laying solar panels or building wind turbines.
I've over 50 tree's on my 6000 ft lot. Two are in my way: Firewood for next winter!
And you're right about foodstuffs. Two cherry trees were encroaching on my garden, so I chopped them down and turned them into tomato trellises.
Trees may need to be irrigated.
Bwah. hahahahahahaha!
The only reason I've ever watered a tree was because I was bored.
Indigenous tree's do not need to be watered.
And the worst thing about trees vs. coal, is that coal is a relatively inert substance, and trees easily decay. Dead leaves will decay within a year or two, releasing 100% of captured carbon back into the atmosphere. Tree trunks take longer, but they too will release carbon, making the entire exercise futile - unless you go to extreme pains to protect them from decay, perhaps by burying them in abandoned mines and then sealing them with concrete.
Concrete? When did tree's become the equivalent of plutonium waste?
Let them rot?!
What part of using them as a replaceable fuel did you not understand?

Let's start over:

1. spit seed
2. tree grows and converts CO2 into coal precursor.
3. tree gets too big and is converted to fuel, replacing non-carbon neutral oil, gas, and coal.
4. repeat
 
  • #6
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That's some fancy economic theory you've got going on there if you can tell me how popping a cherry seed onto the ground cost me anything.
It did not cost you anything, because you weren't utilizing that land properly to begin with. You also didn't gain anything (not right away). If we want to talk about large-scale carbon sequestration, cost of land is a factor to be considered.


I've over 50 tree's on my 6000 ft lot.
They must be really small. A single fully grown oak tree can have the canopy 6000 sq ft. in area.

The only reason I've ever watered a tree was because I was bored.
Indigenous tree's do not need to be watered.
Depends on where you live. In much of the United States you can go around spitting cherry seeds all day and nothing's going to happen. Freeway 35 is the approximate western boundary of the part of the country where trees grow naturally without irrigation. Further west, there are no "indigenous" trees, just yucca and various kinds of cactuses.

Concrete? When did tree's become the equivalent of plutonium waste?
Let them rot?!
What part of using them as a replaceable fuel did you not understand?
There was nothing about using them as a replaceable fuel in the original proposal. We were talking about carbon sequestration by the means of tying atmospheric CO2 in some form.
 
  • #7
OmCheeto
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There was nothing about using them as a replaceable fuel in the original proposal. We were talking about carbon sequestration by the means of tying atmospheric CO2 in some form.
Oh. Why didn't they say so. I'd have just told them to plant some trees. It's free and requires no maintenance.

I guess I couldn't imagine turning CO2 into coal for sequestration on the one hand, and mining it in the next county to run your electric plants. It simply doesn't make sense.
 
  • #8
I was just asking a question and didn't appreciate the patronizing about me being an accounting major. Like I said I am not a science nerd and I was just curious. I just wanted to know if it was possible. I knew there would be some time of loss. I wasn't sure.

I was wondering not for profit, but because I am always hearing about the tons of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. I thought that if there was a way of concentrating it would make it better for the environment.

I might be an accounting major and not a science nerd, but I don't think like an accountant all the time. Thanks, I won't be back.
 
  • #9
SpectraCat
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I was just asking a question and didn't appreciate the patronizing about me being an accounting major. Like I said I am not a science nerd and I was just curious. I just wanted to know if it was possible. I knew there would be some time of loss. I wasn't sure.

I was wondering not for profit, but because I am always hearing about the tons of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. I thought that if there was a way of concentrating it would make it better for the environment.

I might be an accounting major and not a science nerd, but I don't think like an accountant all the time. Thanks, I won't be back.
Sorry to hear that you feel that way, but for what it's worth, none of the answers in this thread were patronizing in the least. Only the first two replies were specifically in response to your questions, and the posters simply stated facts or opinions in an attempt to give you the answer you were seeking. From my point of view, the posters were doing their best to put concepts from chemistry (a subject you indicated you were unfamiliar with) into an economic context that might make them easier for you to understand.

As you can see from their responses, you are in fact correct about your idea, and people are working on exactly the sort of ideas you proposed, but none of them are close to being economically viable. The posts were to the point and informative ... I guess I don't understand why you felt they were patronizing you.
 
  • #10
chemisttree
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Here is a http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/jom/0802/neelameggham-0802.html" [Broken] arranged around just your idea.
 
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