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New Solutions to Oil Problems

While Congress was debating whether or not to drill for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, NASA scientists have discovered that the Earth?s crust contains enough hydrogen to end the world?s energy problems.

Professor Friedemann Freund, of the Ames Research Center in California, says the hydrogen is produced when water molecules break down inside molten rock. His team has evidence that there may be over 85 gallons of hydrogen trapped in each cubic foot of some rocks. The daily energy needs of England could be supplied by the hydrogen trapped in just a cubic mile of rock. However, extracting the hydrogen would be extremely difficult.

The team made the discovery when they were testing various rocks, trying to find out how bacteria live miles below the Earth?s surface. Freund says, ?In the top [10 miles] of the Earth?s crust, the conditions are right to produce a nearly inexhaustible supply of hydrogen.? The most promising source of the gas may be geological ?traps? similar to areas drilled for natural gas.

Dr. Geoff Dutton of the UK Energy Research Unit says, ?The key factor is whether the energy in the mined hydrogen would ever outweigh the energy required to extract it.?

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Meanwhile, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy?s Los Alamos National Laboratory are studying a simple, cost effective method of extracting carbon dioxide directly from the air. If this could be done, we could continue to burn fossil fuels while avoiding global climate change.

The method would allow researchers to harvest carbon dioxide from the air, reducing buildup of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. They could then convert the CO2 into fuel.

?Fossil fuel supplies are plentiful, and what will limit the usage of fossil fuels is the potential climatic and ecosystem changes you may see as a result of rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere,? says Los Alamos researcher Manvendra Dubey. ?If you can capture atmospheric carbon dioxide, then you limit the environmental impact of fossil fuels and you can continue to use them. We have come up with a way to capture and sequester the carbon dioxide that we are putting in the atmosphere. Our approach is particularly well suited to capturing CO2 from numerous small sources such as automobiles that are largely being ignored.?

His team?s method uses the wind and natural atmospheric mixing to transport CO2 to a removal site, and it is the only means available to capture CO2 generated from the cars, trucks and buses that account for nearly half of all carbon dioxide emissions. As the exhaust passes over the extraction agent, such as solution of quicklime (the active agent in some cement), the carbon dioxide in the air reacts with the quicklime and changes into calcium carbonate (limestone), a solid that forms and falls to the bottom of the extractor. The calcium carbonate is then heated to produce pure carbon dioxide and quicklime, which is recycled back into the extractor. The purified and liberated carbon dioxide can then be isolated as a gas by injecting it into the ground or it could be combined with minerals to form a solid. Carbon dioxide gas also can be sold commercially to the petrochemical industry, which uses large quantities of it to extract fossil fuels.

This method can be used anywhere?not just near sources of CO2 pollution. It can capture the carbon dioxide being emitted from all sources, as long as it?s released into the air. ?The carbon dioxide comes to the facility on its own,? Dubey says. ?And because treated air is discharged, the overall concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere gradually decreases over time. Using this method on a large enough scale, it may be possible to return atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to pre-Industrial-Age concentrations. Given the possibility our climate system can change abruptly, this possibility is very exciting.?

The cost of the entire process is equivalent to about 20 cents per gallon of gasoline. Extraction facilities could be located in gas stations, so you would extract, then fill ?er up.

Find out what greenhouse gases are doing to our world?and why global warming is not ?our fault,? by reading ?The Coming Global Superstorm? by Art Bell & Whitley Strieber, now only $9.95 for a hardcover autographed by Whitley, click here.

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