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Notes from the lab

Researchers ponder ocean disposal of CO2

The ability to capture and dispose of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by electric power plants could make continued use of fossil fuels possible even if global warming proves a serious threat. Technology exists for capturing CO2, but disposing of it remains a problem.

In DOE-supported work, MIT researchers have been examining one option for large-scale CO2 disposal: injection into the ocean. Using computer models, they have calculated how injected CO2 would change the acidity of the seawater around the injection point and how those changes would affect marine organisms nearby. Their analyses show that the quantity of CO2 injected is critical: twice as much CO2 generally kills more than twice as many organisms. However, certain methods of injection make the CO2 sufficiently dilute that the biological impacts are negligible.

The analytical technique used should also be of interest for assessing the biological impacts of other discharges and could provide a new method of setting emission standards. The researchers are led by Dr. Howard Herzog, a principal research engineer in the Energy Laboratory, and E. Eric Adams, a senior research engineer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. From September 9-11, the Energy Lab hosted the Third International Conference on CO2 Removal. For more information, go to . (Source: Nancy Stauffer, e-lab newsletter)

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 11, 1996.

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