Monday, May 3, 2010

Carbon Neutral Energy

I wanted to find out exactly how much CO2 was in the atmosphere as these numbers would be used in the development of a global energy policy change.
  • Air pressure at sea level is about 14.5 lbs. / sq. in. or 10 metric tons / sq. m.
  • Earth's radius is 5,925km and therefore the surface area of Earth is 441 million sq. km or 441,000 billion sq. m.
Therefore the weight of the Earth's atmosphere is about 4.41 million billion metric tons.

Earth System Research Laboratory at Mauna Loa, Hawaii has stated that the atmosopheric CO2 concentration has increased by 2.02 ppm from last year. 2.02 ppm can also be expressed at 2.02 mg/kg of atmosphere or 0.000202% of the total atmospheric weight.

Therefore the weight of CO2 that was added to our atmosphere last year was 8,908,200,000 metric tons.
  • CO2 weighs about 3.67x as much as carbon or carbon is 27.3% of the total weight of CO2
Therefore, of the CO2 in the atmosphere, 2,431,938,600 metric tons of it is strictly carbon which is what we are interested in.

Vegetable oils on average have a carbon chain length of about 18 carbons with 1 double bond. This would give us a chemical equation of C18H34O2 with carbon making up 76.54% of the overall weight of the vegetable oil. This means we will need to create 1.31 metric tons of oil for each ton of carbon absorbed.

This means we would need to create 3,177,395,568 metric tons of oil to absorb the amount of carbon released to the atmosphere last year.
Each mL of vegetable oil weighs about 0.92g; taken from the Spectrum - Chemical, Safety and Laboratory Products Catalog.

Therefore the weight of oil we now have would take up about 2,923,203,923,000 liters of volume. That's almost 3 trillion liters of vegetable oil.
This would also be expressed as 772,228,780,000 gallons or 18,386,399,500 barrels of oil.
Current algae production numbers suggest that oil can be harvested at about 36,000 gallons per acre per year.

With are current technological breakthroughs in algae biotechnology, we would need to create 21,450,799 acres worth of algae farms in order to sequester the carbon the world releases to the atmosphere in the form of CO2. This is a little bit larger than the area of South Carolina. If each country were to build farms on their land based on their contribution to the CO2 increase, the United States would be building farms that would be about the size of New Jersey. As technology improves, the amount of oil harvested per acre should increase and these areas of use should come down. However this just shows how much of an impact we as humans have on our environment.

1 comment:

  1. >>...that would be about the size of New Jersey

    Fred Armisen as NY Gov David Patterson:
    "Newwww Jerrzzzzzzeyyyyy..."