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12 Ocean storage 12.1 Introduction

As described in Chapter 2, the world’s oceans contain an estimated 39,000 Gt-C (143,000Gt-CO2), 50 times more than the atmospheric inventory, and are estimated to have taken up almost 38% (500Gt-CO2) of the 1300Gt of anthropogenic CO2 emissions over the past two centuries.

Options that have been investigated to store carbon by increasing the oce­ anic inventory are described in this chapter, including biological (fertilization), chemical (reduction of ocean acidity, accelerated limestone weathering), and physical methods (CO2 dissolution, supercritical CO2 pools in the deep ocean).

12.2 Physical, chemical, and biological fundamentals

12.2.1 Physical properties of CO2 in seawater

The behavior of CO2 released directly into seawater will depend primarily on the pressure (i.e., depth) and temperature of the water into which it is released. The key properties are:

l

l

l

The liquefaction pressure at a given temperature: the point at which with increasing pressure, gaseous CO2 will liquefy

The variation of CO2 liquid density with pressure, which determines its buoyancy relative to seawater

The depth and temperature at which CO2 hydrates will form

Saturation pressure

At temperatures of 0–10°C, CO2 will liquefy at pressures of 4–5MPa, corre­ sponding to water depths of ~400–500 m, with a liquid density of 860 kg per m3 at 10°C and 920kg per m3 at 0°C. At this depth liquid CO2 will therefore be positively buoyant, and free liquid droplets will rise and evaporate into gas bubbles as pressure drops below the saturation pressure.

Buoyancy

Figure 12.1 shows the densities of CO2 and seawater versus depth for a range of ocean conditions. Liquid CO2 is more compressible than water and becomes

© 2010 Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved. Doi:10.1016/B978-1-85617-636-1.00012-2.

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