An effort to rapidly reverse global warming is leveraging the collaborative methods of Linux and other open source software. Cquestrate aims to develop a cost-effective, “open” way to produce and introduce lime into the sea, where it will efficiently sequester dissolved CO2.
Cquestrate, the brain-child of U.K. management consultant Tim Kruger, launched its website on July 21. Kruger claims the CO2 sequestration concept “has the potential to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels.”
According to a detailed description published on the project’s website, “the process works by thermally decomposing (calcining) limestone and adding the resulting calcium oxide to seawater, thereby increasing the capacity of the oceans to act as a carbon sink, whilst at the same time mitigating ocean acidification. The carbon dioxide generated by the thermal decomposition (calcination) of limestone can be sequestered, or utilized either as the starting point for the production of fuels, or to enable biomass to be grown in arid environments, without the need for irrigation. The process thus addresses a number of environmental and social problems: climate change, ocean acidification, food shortages, fuel shortages, water shortages and soil salinification from excessive irrigation.”
Put more simply…
- “First, you heat limestone to a very high temperature, until it breaks down into lime and carbon dioxide.
- Then you put the lime into the sea, where it reacts with carbon dioxide dissolved in the seawater.
The important point is that when you put lime into seawater it absorbs almost twice as much carbon dioxide as is produced by the breaking down of the limestone in the first place. This has the effect of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It also helps to prevent ocean acidification, another problem caused by the increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”
The Cequestrate project has received seed funding from Shell’s GameChanger program. This will allow it to operate through the end of 2008, “at which point it should be possible to determine whether the concept merits further investigation,” the group says.
Leveraging “open source” methods
The Cequestrate project says it is developing the project “in an open source way.” The group’s website explains the benefits of this approach as follows:
“There are no patents involved in this process and that is the way we want to keep it. We are opening it up to everyone so that we can draw on the expertise of people who can help us to transform the idea from concept to reality.
By posting any ideas or suggestions onto this website you will be publicly disclosing that information, which will create a broad ‘anti-patent’ space. This will prevent anyone from gaining a patent that could restrict the development of this process. Every contribution will be logged and date-stamped, creating a permanent record, which can be used to challenge anyone trying to gain patents in this area.
By using an open source approach no-one can restrict anyone else from developing this process.
Open source has been successfully used to develop Wikipedia and software such as Linux. As far as we are aware this is the first time it has been used to try to tackle an issue such as climate change.”
The Cequestrate project invites the public to join its efforts. “We know that it works in theory — we need to understand how we can make it work in practice,” the group states.
“There are many questions that we still need to answer and we are appealing to anyone who can help us develop this project further,” continues the group.
For further details, visit the Cquestrate project’s website.