About 100 such plants -- which essentially use the ocean as "a giant carbon dioxide collector" -- could cause a 15 percent reduction in emissions over many years, they say. About 700 plants could offset all CO2 emissions.
Scientists believe that excessive build-up of carbon dioxide in the air contributes to global warming. In addition to cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions by reducing the use of fossil fuels, researchers have focused on new technologies that remove the gas directly from the atmosphere.
In the new study, Kurt Zenz House and colleagues propose building hundreds of special water treatment facilities worldwide that would remove hydrochloric acid from the ocean by electrolysis and neutralize the acid through reactions with silicate minerals or rocks.
The reaction increases the alkalinity of the ocean and its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The process is similar to the natural weathering reactions that occur among silicate rocks but works at a much faster rate, the researchers say.
The journal article, "Electrochemical Acceleration of Chemical Weathering as an Energetically Feasible Approach to Mitigating Anthropogenic Climate Change," is scheduled to appear in the Dec. 15 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology.