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Prof. Olaf Schuiling has a Solution for the CO2 Problem

2009 Shell subsidized olivine test in Brennels/Flevoland [Google Maps]

Olaf Schuiling (1932) is an emeritus professor in geosciences at the university of Utrecht in the Netherlands. He has a background in petro-science and geology and has spent some time at Princeton as a NATO research fellow. Between 1972-1997 he was professor in geochemistry and experimental petrology in Utrecht.

Prof. Olaf Schuiling’s main claim to fame is that he believes that he has the solution for global warming, caused by increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, due to burning of fossil fuel: olivine:

This month, Schuiling has published his new book Olivijn, de steen der wijzen (Olivine, the stone of wisdom). Schuiling especially targets the idea of sequestring CO2 in the earth. Olivine will provide the solution for a fraction of the cost. One kilo olivine can bind 1.25 kilo CO2.

Schuiling wants to use the abundantly present mineral olivine (Mg2SiO4/Fe2SiO4) to reabsorb CO2 from the atmosphere. The idea is to grind olivine and let it react with water and CO2 from the atmosphere. The resulting bicarbonate dissolved in water will flow to the sea, where it will settle out as limestone and coral.

Schuiling proposes to pulverize an olivine mountain of 7 km3/year and spread the powder over land and beaches. When the olivine has done its work it can be plowed under and as such enhance the fertility of poor soil. Huge olivine reserves exist in China, India en Brasil. Cost 10-15 euro per ton olivine. Sequestering CO2 like was proposed and cancelled in the Netherlands in contrast costs 70-100 euro/ton CO2.

Olivine is relatively equally distributed over the earth’s crust, so there is no need for large transportation effort. All it takes is deposit a layer of 3.5 mm olivine powder on an area of 2 million km2, that’s four times France, every year, to neutralize that year’s global CO2 emissions.

Schuiling is participating in the Al Gore/Richard Branson VirginEarth Challenge, a contest for offering a solution to CO2-sourced climate change and has made it to the final 11:

[theenergycollective.com] – Virgin Earth Challenge: How Goes It?

Evaluation: what is lacking is an evaluation of the energy cost to mine, grind and disperse olivine. As far as we are concerned it seems to make more sense to get away from using fossil fuel poison first, as proposed for instance by the European Union renewable energy policy. It doesn’t make sense to ‘mop with the tap wide open’, so to speak. As a measure of last resort this kind of megalomaniac-sounding scheme could be considered to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels after the transition has been accomplished.

At [4:18] Richard Branson

[wikipedia.org] – Olivine
[nl.wikipedia.org] – Olaf Schuiling
[virginearth.com] – Smart Stones
[smartstones.nl] – Let the Earth save the Earth
[dekennisvannu.nl] – Groot plan voor de planeet
[volkskrant.nl] – Een paar km3 olivijn om het klimaat in de hand te houden
[trouw.nl] – Emeritus hoogleraar gelooft nog steeds in olivijn, een steen die CO2 slurpt
[bol.com] – Olivijn, de steen der wijzen

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