Directly Making Carbon from CO2

Imagine a device floating on our oceans, it is a square box, and it has a high yield solar panel on the top and some air inlets on the side. From the bottom there is a constant precipitate of pure carbon, C. The device is made on an industrial scale and put out to see to just capture carbon and evolve oxygen. As far as I know it can be done.

The CO2 molecule has two double bonds, it is super strong!

Picking CO2 from the air is not hard. So you can concentrate pure CO2 in a space. This requires energy of course but CO2 scrubbing is nothing new. But the step from CO2 to Carbon is hard. Chemically the CO2 bond is super strong, which is why we use it to burn and generate heat. Solar processes to split CO2 into CO and O2 are known, there are several cathalysts and new methods are being developed every day.

Splitting CO2 in CO and O2 is not hard, but look at the CO molecule.. Three bonds!

As you can see above however, splitting CO2 in CO and O2 leaves you with CO which has three bonds and is highly reactive. It is in smoke if you burn wood (because of too little oxygen), and we all know that smoke itself burns quite nicely and can even explode. So how are we going to get around this obstacle. The answer is to change the space the CO2 molecules exist in, so by applying an electric field.

CO2 gas in an electric field gets distorted and starts behaving differently

When an electric field is applied in a space where CO2 is floating around the shape of the CO2 molecule changes, as do the orbital configuration of its electrons, meaning the distribution of electron density over the nuclei if you where able to measure or image them. An electric field exists between to electrodes which have opposite charge.

An electric field is created between a needle and a plate, this allows the CO2 to break down and Carbon to be deposited.

As the bonds between Carbon and Oxygen exist because the electrons want to get closer to the positively charged nucleus, so it is charge driven, an electric field can simply rip the bonds apart. This leaves you with two O’s and one C, and the O’s can quickly become O2 and the C can find other C’s to form a structure with (there are many options). As a result the Carbon is deposited, mixed with some oxygen. The oxygen can probably be removed using a membrane that only lets smaller molecules through.

Dots of carbon and rows of them on a silicon substrate below.

The depositing can be done with a needle or with a mask of needles, so basically a bed of nails, so that larger amounts of carbon can be deposited at once. This is at room temperature and not even using ludicrous voltages (mainly because the voltage gets concentrated by the points.)

Two graphes where vertical is the height of the carbon deposit, horizontal is time of field or intensity of field

More voltage means more carbon, longer deposit times means more carbon

This seems to be a technology that can be scaled up and be made autonomous to operate in the way described above, depositing carbon below while catching sunlight above. There are challenges, like removing the carbon from the substrate, but this would in my opinion be a great device to make, and also make at scale. The trouble with CO2 in our atmosphere is that it is everywhere in it, so up to 16 km high, while we and carbon capturing plants only occupy the lower 100 meter or so. We will therefore need to use large surfaces to recapture CO2, and we can if we do it with automated systems at scale using low abundant materials. This is a typical Roboeconomic solution.

Source Nanopatterning of carbonaceous structures by field-induced carbon dioxide splitting with a force microscope

Resource Awareness in the Roboeconomy

Today we know very little about the essentials of our existence. We treat them as an animal treats nature : We use what is there without wondering or worrying much. This is a luxury, to not have to worry about things. There’s actually two levels of worry possible : One is you worry if you can pay for food and comfort (which some people do), the other is that you worry whether there is food or comfort for sale when you can pay (which almost nobody does). It is time to start worrying more.

Wealth = Energy x Materials x Skills

For all the Dick Cheneys stating that nobody will screw with our “Way of life” our way of life is badly protected. A simple strike of fuel trucks or a blockade in the Mediterranean means no gasoline at the pumps. Life would grind to a halt. With the increasing droughts farmers go bankrupt. Many have in Australia but in Holland fruit producers see their apples burned in the sun and then destroyed by a hailstorm. These are the sources of what stocks our supermarket, and if they are not there our supermarket will have nothing.

There is a so called carbon budget, which is supposed to be the amount of CO2 we can emit before we reach 1,5 degrees, that limit has been shot through, because we are still stuck with the fossil credit economy. We can barely identify parameters to watch. One thing we should not watch is the price, because price signals are not an indication of scarcity. For instance if you have four countries wanting to buy grain on the global market, but they don’t have USD currency to do so, the price of grain may drop while demand is high and supply is high. On the other hand if the US pays higher prices for grain and prices go up as a result, poor countries can no longer afford to buy as much or buy at all, and the amount available will never be known.

Whould you not want an indicator of reliability of the supply of goods? With food the reliability is low. With water its also low. How about plastic? The economy is assumed to fix shortages but in reality it is not always possible, the simple test is “Can you do it all with fossil fuels?” then the economy will fix it (as long as the fossil fuels are there). If the answer to the question “Do you rely on external factors you can’t control” then the economy will usually just leave it. Especially when a natural resource is depleted. No more Dodo’s, move on! No more Tuna? (the day will come), tough shit! This could be called basic economism which has a scorched earth mentality. The fraud involved in any system to control it can be surprising, like fishermen first (falsely) reporting more catch to keep quota’s high and not alert anyone and then (falsely) report small catches to pretend to comply.

Especially for the basic needs of people a calculation could be made for the entire population based on age, weight, certainly income to ensure the basic needs are met. This is not happening at all right now because of one big distorting force in the market : Banks need for cashflow. Banks are organizations that want to create credit and handle money for others, and this is their only means to control their utility. Money can exist for a long time in circulation and this is a threat to them. They need a way to “mop up” money from circulation and there are two main ways : interest and fossil fuel cost. We explain this in other posts, but basically fossil fuel companies don’t like to spend their profit, becuase the likelyhood of it being spend on fossil fuels (again) is high. The result of this is that banks restrict our freedom to organize (by minimizing the money supply) or if they are generous, make sure the money goes into fossil fuels or gets absorbed by debts.

The desire to see cashflow (which is expressed in insiting on debt payments and financing) by banks means the proces that generates it can not stop. So when fishermen buy a large ship, the bank expects more cashflow from fish and debt payments on the investment. It does not care if the fish gets depleted in fact it explicitely bows out of this kind of concern, the typical “You figure it out” mentality we always get from the bank lakeys on the right. “We have what we need, not you go do what you need to do!”. This however means that fishermen have to be bought out to protect fish stocks (meaning the banks get what they want at the cost of the community), or they will just continue fishing whatever is alive. At the same time the boats will get bigger because banks want larger cashflow generators.

The big lie of economics is that wealth is created. This is not true if you count all the wealth, which includes oil and gas. Wealth is consumed, and natural resources, trees are consumed with help of oil and gas, mechanically at an incredible speed. If all that wealth was quantified and monitored we’d see the world running out of wealth in a frantic hurry. This however is not what banks are interested in, and as we give them control over our activity (we submit to the need for money) they call the shots! They even tell us to help them more by making “the economy” a topic, where a booming economy means banks see more cashflow and a tanking economy the opposite. Who gives a fuck if we run out of resources we need to survive (which includes a climate fit for food production).

We are facing a world that basically is not fit for humanity anymore. Life is opportunistic, it can’t exist where it is not invited. Consciousness has evolved on Earth and changed the rules a little, meaning that we as humans (and many animals) can model the world, imagine outcomes and choose one that keeps us safe. So amazingly we allowed assholes to put us in major trouble, but we have hands and feet and can build machines, and the energy we need to fight climate change is abundant, so we can work our way out of this scenario. Not by complaining about it, not by brainwashing ourselves what is wrong or what will go wrong, but by doing different things than we are today. One of them should be to start generating wealth without consuming it, so wealth is not defined as its consumption, but its existence. Another is to map the wealth we have today and map routes towards increasing it, which should of course include ways to reduce the CO2 trapping gas accumulation in our “room” the atmosphere.

We should also try to minimize cashflow for banks in ways that also maximize wealth. The most effective way to do it is to build renewable energy sources that are fully owned, so not financed. This is becoming more easy every day. Cities and countries should create zones that are not “Zero emissions” but fully RE powered. The priority should be given to those companies and industry that is not fossil dependent, that increases wealth and wellbeing. As soon as banks can be forced to comply (which they will try to avoid by pretending there are economic problems etc.) they need to be directed to increase wealth, not destroy it.

Roboeconomic Money

Right now money is carboncredit, it buys us fossil fuels and this is the reason it has value. Try in your mind to imagine if you pay for something, like an airline ticket or Ikea furniture and the money can’t buy fossil fuels. That doesn’t work. In the Roboeconomy money can not be carboncredit, there will be no carbon/fossil fuels in use. Still the economy will happen, people will be producing, but now all with renewables. The credit creation process (how money starts to exist) has to reflect that.

Economists have been wondering about how much money should exist and how it should be created for a century now, but in the fossil economy it is really simple : If you create more money than is needed to buy the fossil fuels to produce stuff you cause inflation. If you increase the amount by extending credit, production will ramp up, eventually more production capacity will be added, but if the cost of fossil fuels remains about the same, prices can be stabile. If you try to buy something with very little automation or fossil fuel input its a totally different story. Say you spend 1000 euro on man made wood carved panels, and you get 20, then if you want to spend 2000 on the same you may not get 40, because there needs to be an artisan capable of carving the panels. Renewables are a bit like that.

If you want to create credit to spend in the economy, and it only uses renewable energy (RE), the production is limited to the RE capacity. If one wind turbine produces 5 MW on a windy night, and you have credit that buys 5MW, nobody else can buy those megawatts anymore. With fossil fuels lying in storage this kind of inflexibility does not exist. You can fix this with storage in batteries, but for the forseeable future all RE will be spoken for. This has another important consequence : If you suddenly drop 1 billion credits in the economy, probably NOTHING changes on the production side.

Credit/Money creation in a RE powered economy needs to be a carefull process. Today banks and gas companies try to push Hydrogen as a new clean fuel, mainly because they don’t want anything to change to their business. Banks want credit to be thought of independently of resources because if you start doing that you start to worry. You need to exactly do that in a RE powered economy. It is not complicated though, you create a unit of energylike a kWh, and a kWh credit. The issue is where to allow that credit to be allocated.

Say you buy sneakers in Holland, made in China. That won’t be likely in the Roboeconomy but ok. So your kWh credits need to be usable in China, where there are machines stamping plastic, maybe there is methane plant where the gas is turned into plastic. That plant may be for a large part running on local renewables, so quite cheaply. The plant owner may own RE sources. Your credit should then go towards what? Probaly towards public service RE sources used by the truck that moves the sneakers to the port. There needs to be a RE producer that accepts the credit and this needs to be of use to the producer or the whole idea of paying makes no sense.

With fossil fuels in the economy there is a product that has to be everywhere all the other products are too. Every truck contains diesel, every ship and plane contain fossil fuels, its a constant compagnion and it needs to be delivered and made available through a complex logistics chain. With RE you don’t need that, but you will find RE sources along the former fossil distribution network more readily because that’s where most of the people are who need them. The question is : Why would anyone of these accept your kWh credit ?

It seems there need to be a global ownere of RE sources, or at least some alliance, so that credit created in one place can be used in another, but that raises other questions, for instance how much credit can we create if it gets used elsewhere. We are interested in your thoughts.

Do Banks Own All the Land (part 2)

Make a simple assumption : The economic system is a one way ticket to climate hell. Then the question becomes : How do we escape it. The answer is : Make sure you don’t need its money.

The economy is a system of trade, it assumes we all participate and contribute something of value to others, which we can then exchange using the money/currency available. The economy assumes that people will find and offer for sale the raw materials, half products, products and lots of other things because opportunites are visible, money can be made and money can buy anything.

This all works fine if you don’t think beyond how to make money and what you want to buy. If your mind is that limited you are the perfect consumer. If you think beyond that for instance about the long term effects of using natural resources you run into a problem because depletion of those resources is unavoidable and you can’t really prevent it. As a participant in the economy you find the economic machine is completely without brakes or controls. At least so it seams..

There is control in the system, and it comes from banks. Strangely banks control trade in nearly every square km of the planet, simply because we use the currency they create. In countries like Holland it is especially clear banks control the price and trade of land for agriculture and housing. You can not build a cheap home in Holland, you have to price it against the market price. Why? To protect the average home ‘value’. The home owning public largely supports this, but for those that rent or simply don’t have enough money it becomes a real nightmare. Everyone will fight you building for a lower price, even the builders. If you do it yourself you find a home never has to cost much more than 100.000 Euro.

So in Holland, how come banks have all this power and how do you break through it. After all we are all born naked and without any property. There is no immortal banker, these guys are just trying to make a living, yet the system is rigged so that more money is better, and this puts pressure on everybody without a real benefit. The system does not optimize the right to a place to live, instead it reduces building, it creates expesive homes and also reduces the reserve of cheaper homes and appartments for rent. All to sell more mortgages at the highest price.

This pressure by itself is enough of a problem, but because of it the methods used are not easy to change. Banks don’t like disruptions, innovations that alter cashflow. This means that fossil using technology is fine and centralized energy generation without storage (batteries) as well, just as long as money flows through the banks when the resources and technologies are used. Ones that do not generate cashflow, like off grid solar powered mining for example, make banks obsolete.

The influence of financed building for profit..

So we are captured in a system that wants to be cashflow intensive, and therefore fossil fuel or centralized energy intensive. We are stuck in this system everywhere we go, because the money is used everywhere and all land is priced in Euro’s and sold through bank-allied brokers. The resources that the economy makes available to us are enormous, but the cost is equally gigantic and tragic, we sacrifice humanity.

The opposition to this would have to come from people that own land without debt. Suprisingly it can also come from people that own renewable energy sources without debt. The challenge is often to pay annual cost to the municipality or state, and those costs are usually adapted to the exitence and use of banks. A home owner pays a home tax that is proportional to the estimated market value of the home. This continues even if the home is payed off.

What is needed is a group of owners of land, resources, production installations, to team up and protect each others ownership as well as use their own currency in their own territory. The catch is that whoever manages that currency does not allow it to be exchanged into the wider economy nor be used to buy or trade fossil fuels or nuclear energy. The idea is that you only use the currency between the members of the group or to pay people that work for the group. Of course those people would have to spend the money in the territory of the group.

The amount of money should be proportional to the actual primary resources that can be purchased with them, so food, energy, water. If that is the case you can hand out a salary to all workers from the central bank, and then tax the producers for the full amount after salaries. This is not a problem because a producer of a primary resource does not have to pay anybody to produce. The actual mechanism of payment and taxation is complex, because you want to avoid concentratio of power yet allow people to live and thrive and enjoy benefit from their efforts..

DIY Car Ventilation System

My car gets really hot in the sun. It’s a problem for stuff inside. Eventually I want a car that cools itself even when it is not driving. It turns out its pretty hard to find an AC unit for 12 volt with a small form factor. This would be combined with a roof cover that keeps the heat out. In the mean time this is what I came up with: a small solar panel and a ventilator.

The white strip with letterbox ventilator opening, pannel mounted on the roof

I created a mount out of board, this could also be some metal material. The ventilator is not optimal. Strangely there is no opening in the chassis to let air out, I’d have to drill or cut a hole somewhere to be able to constantly ventilate. The only way to get air in (besides hacking the normal cooled air ventilation which is a todo) is to open a window. With some board its easy to create a removable panel with a letterbox slit, the ventilator (typical fan) is mouted horizonatlly on top, and blows air out.

PC ventilator

Having electricity in the car is a bonus, it can charge the laptop, phone it can run a small refrigerator. All it takes is a theft proof way to mount it on the car, which is a challenge. Because the roof catches a lot of sun it would be smart to make it reflective or double layer. Again the challenge is with mounting and stuff blowing off the roof while driving.

Because this design still pulls on the materials in a bad way, it expects the ventilator to be horizontal but gravity will pull it downwards, and the tape will eventually give, I made a next version.

New ventilator holder

the idea is to distribute the vertical forces over a larger area. Also used a bit thicker foam (which was lying around).

Looks more offical
A breeze through a letterbox..