Sunday, March 21, 2010

Basketball and Carbon Dioxide Sequestration

For reasons that I can’t fathom, I watched the final minutes of the Pitt-Xavier basketball game. I lost what little interest I had in that game, though, after seeing an ExxonMobil commercial talking about how they are working to remove CO2 from natural gas and sequester it so that it doesn’t get into the atmosphere.

Sound good? Well, first consider that natural gas is almost all methane and other low molecular weight hydrocarbons. That means that, when you burn them, you get one or more molecules of CO2 from each molecule of natural gas burned.

Virtually all of it is released to the atmosphere. So the vast majority of CO2 emissions from natural gas come from burning it. Plus, I looked it up, and the CO2 content of natural gas ranges from 0-8%, and only 1/3 of the US natural gas reserves contain the 2% or more of CO2 that requires that it be purified prior to use. So sequestering the CO2 from natural gas purification stands to have a negligible effect on CO2 release to the atmosphere.

But not only is ExxonMobil spending $100 million on a demonstration plant to remove CO2 from natural gas, they’re spending an unknown amount of money advertising it on TV.

I’ve gotta get more interested in basketball.


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