The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System

renewable energy, carbon dioxide sink, biodiesel, and food from the ocean

Carbon Dioxide Sink

Martin on Apr 18th 2008

It is now common knowledge that the world is beginning to feel the effects of global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels. The greenhouse gases will eventually return to normal if we can find alternative ways of generating energy. Finding alternative, renewable ways of generating energy can be considered a secondary reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide as opposed to a scheme which directly reduces it by capturing and storing the carbon dioxide. A TIE system achieves both forms of carbon dioxide reduction. The secondary reduction is obvious because the Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System can produce power in the terawatt range but a TIE System is also capable of directly reducing carbon dioxide by growing marine plants.

Marine plants, like all plants, use carbon dioxide to make food and to grow their bodies. Of course, plants require more than just carbon dioxide to grow. Sunlight, water, fixed nitrogen and other minerals and compounds like phosphorus are essential components of plant growth. Sunlight and water are at their maximum in the ocean, as is dissolved carbon dioxide (the ocean and atmosphere are in a state of equilibrium) but the other components are in short supply. Nutrient leaching due to thermoclines is best described in the demo but suffice to say that this is the reason that the tropical oceans are not teeming with life.

A TIE System brings up deep ocean water (DOW) into a lagoon. DOW is the perfect fertilizer for marine plants – and marine plants reproduce and grow far more quickly than land plants. Estimates vary but a conservative approximation suggests that each hectare of ocean inside the lagoon will produce 30 times more biomass than the most productive terrestrial farm land.

Any bringing of DOW to the surface will release a small amount of carbon dioxide as the water from the deep comes under reduced pressure but this will be more than compensated for by the fixing of carbon dioxide due to the growth of the marine plants in the lagoon. If these plants are converted to biofuels then the carbon dioxide that was locked up in their bodies will be released. However not all of the carbon dioxide that has been absorbed by the biomass in the lagoon will be capturable. Bacteriophages, bits of DNA and other cell detritus will slip through the best filtration systems and emerge from the lagoon on the outflow of the tide. This organic matter will eventually settle on the bottom of the ocean and be locked away as shales and carbonate rocks for geologic time.