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Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/17/2011 7:47 PM

What would be the effects of injecting Carbon Monoxide into the soil, at a dept of 16 to 24 inches?Would it decompose into carbon and oxygen,or maintain it's chemistry and eventually percolate into the atmosphere? I suspect that soil Ph would have an effect, as well as soil structure,chemistry, and moisture content.Any chemists that would like to speculate on this, or is there any reference material?

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#1

Re: Effect of injecting CO into soil

07/17/2011 7:54 PM

Would you do this over 1 square foot, one square mile or one state?

How would you do it? Why would you do it?

Who pays?

Where would you get the CO?

Is there a CO injection infrastructure in place, or will it have to be built?

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Effect of injecting CO into soil

07/17/2011 8:30 PM

Multiple reasons:

1. Carbon sequestration from agricultural equipment.

2. Possible pesticide for soil pests like nematodes using shallow injection.

3. Deeper injection, as with a modified sub-soiler could capture the carbon long term, depending on soil type, etc.

4. The CO would come from the ag equipment itself, most of which are Diesel powered.I am sure a pump would be needed to prevent excessive back pressure on the exhaust system.

5. Carbon credits could help pay for the device, as well the potential use as a low cost pesticide.

6. There would be very little additional fuel costs associated with this as it could be done in parallel with regular tillage.

Too bad I do not have the money to patent this concept and associated devices.

Anyone want to put up some investment capital?

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#3

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/17/2011 8:41 PM

I think this would have an adverse and long term effect on the crops above and groundwater supplies below, one that may create more problems than its use would solve.

That's my feeling anyway. Can any chemists comment?

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#4

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/17/2011 11:18 PM

Question is OK, but there are som ebasics that you seem to have not understood.

Agricultural equipment when running properly would make negligible CO as that represetns incomplete combustion and significant loss of power. Output from those machines is more CO2.

Soil injection of gasses for pest control is common practice. Cotton farmers inject anhydrous Amonia to sterilise soil and also act as a high Nitrogen fertiliser. Nitrogen is readily absorbed by plant from soil moisture. Carbon (from my understaning) however is seldom absorbed from the soil, but rather from the atmosphere, so soil injection of CO or even CO2 would be pointless from that perspective.

The pH effect of injecting CO (or CO2) into moist soil would lower the pH (make it acidic) and depending on the transition caused would change teh availability of other nutrients in the soil chemistry.

In normal farming practice, the mass of exhaust gas (including CO2) produced per square meter covered (Even if it were beneficial) would be negligible relative to normal fertilizer application rates. (Our braodacre farm used 200L of diesel to cultivate around 100 Ha of area. Our annual process would be one pass to kill weeds, one pass to plant the crop, one pass to harvest and one pass to incorporate the stubble into the soil.)

The additional drag created by any soil injection process would increase fuel demand with no additional yield to the farmers.

There's just a little speculation on this. Don't stop asking the questions.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/18/2011 9:48 AM

.........and CO2 capture in soils happens already from that absorbed which falls as "acid rain".

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#6

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/18/2011 10:34 PM

I have found some info on using soil to sequester carbon for long periods of time.It mainly refers to organic matter, but it should work just a well for any type of carbon.

Link below:

http://www.agiweb.org/geotimes/jan02/feature_carbon.html

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#7

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/18/2011 10:54 PM

Hey mate!

Handling CO (as in carbon monoxid) gets you dead, I mean dead before finishing these exchanges!!! Nasty stuff, roughly 50 times harder sticking to your red blood cells, and not letting go. No oxygen transport, you suffocate. Hospitals take it bloody serious. Plants suffer from it for the same reason. They take up CO2 and release O2 in daytime, but at night they consume O2 like animals. The Co2 / O2 exchange is based on rather delicate partial pressure balance. That is killed in plants as well.

In so many words, a bloody bad idea.

Burying CO2? What the heck you think your plant are doing?!? Feed them better, water them a bit better, and they will do wonderful compared to your amateurish meddling.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 1:59 AM

Please read the info at the link provided, then reply with your opinion.

My method would inject the CO below the range of the plant root system,and in certain clay type soils, it could remain captive for hundreds of years.

This idea would not make a great difference, but every little bit helps.

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#9
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Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 3:23 AM

Hytekred,

This is a profoundly interesting and valid topic. However, I believe it was not openned up in the best way. One reason is the loose association between betweem CO and CO2 by the originator of the topic. The two are very different !

Lets get this point out of the way first. If you are refering to CO2 then you are onto the subject of Carbon Sequestration, for which there may be benefits in the form of credits, etc. The CO2 sequestration debate is well documented. On the other hand, if you are referring to CO (Carbon Monoxide) then we have a problem. CO is a combustible gas. There is still considerable heating value left in it. Why would anyone want to dump a valuable fuel resource into the environment (albeit of low heating value). To inform you, there are synthetic fuel companies (e.g. SASOL in South Africa) that use CO as a feedstock to their Fischer-Tropsch process. The other component required is Hydrogen. Fro these two they easily derive Hydrocarbons.

Hence, by sequestering CO you would be dumping a valuable resource. In any case the environmental dept in your country would fine you rather than reward you with Carbon Credits. And quite rightly so : The Greenhouse gases listed in oder of their offensive status are : Methane, CO and then CO2. Each of these have a CO2 equivalent when you do the Carbon Footprint Calculation. Methane, for example can have a CO2 equivalent of 15-20 times that of CO2. Similarly, CO will have a CO2 equivalent of several times that of CO.

It appears to me that you use CO and CO2 in the same context. Note that the conversion of CO into hydrocarbons or the straight-forward combustion of CO to CO2 are both pretty standard commercial processes. The 2nd case is commonly used in in industries that have this as a side-stream. They will derive energy from it. Alternatively, others simply flare the CO gas. The 1st case is less common as there are not a great many Synfuels companies in the world. They commonly obtain the CO through (partial) gasification of coal [a CTL Process] or (partial) combustion of natural gas [a GTL process].

In fact, in these efforts, one may go to great lengths to obtain CO in the first place. Apart from starting with Coal or natural gas a s a feedstock for CO there is even a clever way to start with CO2 as the raw material. The route to attain this is the reverse water gas shift reaction. Of course, we know, this does require enormous amounts of energy. We don't want to get into this too deeply here as this is part of yet another discussion/ debate.

If you are referring to CO2 as the material to be sequestered in the soil then we might take up the debate in a more realistic way. I am not an expert on what happens in soil and wrt crops. [so not sure about this one]. If the CO2 is sequestered in geological environments I believe that there are certain mechanisms whereby the CO2 is converted to possibly Carbonates for example. Not sure as to the effectiveness of this, but I have seen published articles in Geological magazines.

Nature itself is the (current) master at CO2 conversion through photosynthesis where trees and plants (typically those with leaves) will convert CO2 and consume the carbon. Sunlight, of course, is used as the energy source. There are efforts underway to mimic what nature does in this regard. This would be called artificial Photosynthesis. I use the word current master as it could well be (in the future) that humans will attain the capability to commercially carry out the same process. This would, of course, be tantamount to the holy grail of energy !

Do not waste your CO ! It can also be used in the process to generate Hydrogen through the water gas shift reaction. This is indeed what these Synfuels companies commonly do. This is the reaction CO(g) + H2O(v) → CO2(g) + H2(g).

Let's continue this interesting topic but let's make an effort to adhere closely to the science. Too often these topics become watered down or confused in other fourumns where it can often be ill-flavoured by politics or economics.

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#12
In reply to #9

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 7:08 AM

Another take on sinking CO (or CO2) into Soils

Not wanting to knock out the topic of CO into Soil altogether, there is mention in the literature of the role of Microorganisms in removal of trace gases [CO, CH4, NOx, H2, etc] from the atmosphere. I would imagine that this happens at relatively small rates in nature because of the low mass transfer between air and soil. It may well be that injection of gases into the soil could result in reductions/ consumptions by certain microorganisms as the article by Ralph Conrad suggests. But at which rates? And what would be the limits? Would it be possible to sequestrate CO or any of these gases [meaning on industrial levels]? And if so, how would it affect the soil? Personally, I don't believe that sinking CO or even CO2 into agricultural soils on an industrial scale is viable. But let's get some replies from people who know a bit more.

Again, I would think that sinking CO gas into soils is not a good idea because of its energy and commercial value and because of the sheer volumes involved. For small scale CO gas emissions I would try to capture the CO and then sell it to companies that use it commercially. Now when we are talking CO2 (carbon dioxide) then it becomes worthwhile as there are tons of it available and the owner might even pay you to take it off their hands. For those that are interested, soil monitoring of soil CO2 is described in an article by Russo and Abney (http://www.lane-ag.org/pubs/soil%20gasses/111292-RUSSO.pdf). (Sorry! Link no longer available.)

Alternatively you could receive benefits through carbon-credits for your CO2 sink or CO2 capture efforts. The literature often used the term Carbon Sink and as this reference explains, it has to do with CO2 (carbon Dioxide and not with CO). To be fair to the debate, there is reference to a bacteria that is capable of transforming CO into Hydrocarbons as reported by Lee, Hu and Rubbe (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/219na2.pdf) (Sorry! Link no longer available.) They state that scientists discovered an enzyme found in a common soil bacterium that can do just this. So it is possible in practice. Bit is it possible commercially and will it work on a large scale and in agricultural environments? We must remember that these ideas are all still in the research phase and only on the lab scale.

It could well be worthwhile for R&D outfits to follow up further from Lee, Hu and Rubbe but with regard to application of these microbes and the said enzymes in highly controlled environments in biochemical industrial plants as opposed to (uncontrolled) soil in open nature.

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#17
In reply to #8

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 5:57 PM

No problem HiTek.

Inyecting CO gas into deep soil, and making it stick there centuries. Yeah, right. What professor said that, without experiencing it for himself??

And you are right. Darwin's law have to work somewhere, after all.

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#10

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 6:48 AM

Hello HiTekRedNek,

Indeed there is research deat out there, much of it appears to be lab based scale and therefore not enormously pertinent to answering your query.

Carbon monoxide is a strong reducing agent and can be considered as a fuel gas in its own right as 'Producer gas' it can combust or be catalysed toto carbon dioxide.

It is known that the soil is proactive in processing vast amounts of CO already and predominantly the action converts the Co to carbon dioxide (suggested conversion c500Tg/year).

The issues seem to involve the effects of the CO on the resident population of microbial organisms which are resident in the soil stratum into which you propose to inject the CO as there are both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria present. We are talking about 'soil respiration' and the migration of gases into and out of the stratum will strongly influence the development of the organisms.

Clearly at the depth you suggest there could be water table influences as well as root activity, therefore the process could well transit several phases in the course of a year.

Trying to create a uniform gas concentration over a sizeable acreage would be quite a challenge and the performance of such an investment would difficult to predict.

You can read about the subject in the ''Applied & Environmental Microbiology'' Conrad and Seile Sept 1980 p 437-445.

Good luck,

Massey.

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#11

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 6:51 AM

I used to hook a hose up to the exhaust pipe of my tractor and run it down holes made by Woodchucks (Ground Hogs) under my barn. Did a great job of eradicating them! I assume they decompose and become fertilizer!

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#13

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 10:09 AM

Thanks for all of the valuable feedback from everyone.The intent was to capture the exhaust from agricultural machinery instead of spewing it into the atmosphere.

I was not speaking of a commercial scale operation.

I was under the mistaken idea that the exhaust was primarily CO, but have since learned that it is mostly co2 instead, unless the engine is poorly tuned.

Dr Rice, in my offered link, speaks of the ability of certain soils to capture and hold co2 for hundreds of years.I realize that he is speaking of co2 from organic sources,such as decaying plant material, but would this work for gaseous co2 injected into the same type soil?

This is probably just a wild-hair brained idea, I know, but it may be food for thought for others more knowledgeable in this area.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 11:49 AM

No problem with wild-card ideas. Sometimes great, novel technologies or applications can spring from these. And as a previous discussion of a few days ago highlighted : There is no such thing as something that cannot be done. I for one welcome crazy ideas. But once identifying an idea, the next step is to see whether it works. Then to scale it up. Then to see whether it is feasible ito economics. In the case of this idea, there is lab-demonstration of parts of the idea. But so far no scale-up to pilot plant level can be seen in the literature. Great that you have seen the distinction between CO and CO2. I presume we can now concentrate on CO2 in the rest of the discussion.

This discussion did bring out the role that microbes can play in new solutions of this nature. All development work in this area appears still to be on a lab scale. Nevertheless, this does represent another branch of potential routes wrt carbon reduction. This route cannot be written off as yet. It still needs to be explored further. I personally have looked at other routes in the whole effort at Carbon Reduction. Could others perhaps elaborate on their ideas at Carbon Reduction Systems that utilize the CO2 as opposed to simply sinking it. In this way Carbon Dioxide can be seen as a raw material. While it lacks energy content ito combustion, things change when we consider different ways to add energy to the CO2. For those people that are exploring the application of these enzymes and bacteria in this application, I would think it is a good avenue to explore.

Please do consider what alternative methods may be possible (apart from the good old methods used by nature - Photosynthesis). A working commercial solution to converting carbon dioxide into some form of usable energy (e.g. hydrocarbons) does in fact translate to the holy grail of energy ito transportation fuels. These days there is talk of artificial photosynthesis. I have not explored any of this. On paper at least, I have looked at a method involving energy addition to the CO2.

I dont want to go to deeply into this area in this place as it is probably deserves a discussion in its own right. Topic would be : Production of Synthetic Fuels from Carbon Dioxide (CO2) this time. And not Carbon Monoxide (CO), which is already done commercially as pointed out earlier above.

Please do give some feed-back on this as a Topic for discussion.

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#15
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Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 1:32 PM

Production of Synthetic Fuels from Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

We do that by using one of several plant species, depending on what additional work we want to do (like absorbing radioactive Cesium from contaminated soil) to concentrate the Carbon Dioxide as a mix of various polysaccharides and oligosaccharides through photosynthesis. We then use a multi-microbe cocktail to break the complex sugars down to their 5- and 6-carbon simple sugars, use another cocktail to ferment the simple sugars to fuel ethanol and Carbon Dioxide, which is sold as a refrigerant. Pollutants (like Cesium, in this case) are sealed in cement and shielded in lead for deep ocean or solar launch disposal. There may be alternative solutions.

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/19/2011 2:45 PM

I knew the difference between co and co2, but I was under the misunderstanding that diesel engines pumped out a lot of CO, by virtue of looking at the black color of their exhaust, which to me indicated incomplete combustion.I was not pursuing a commercial scale enterprise of capturing CO, but merely a cheap way to capture some of it at the source.I was anticipating a cost-neutral or minimal cost method of accomplishing this goal. In view of the feedback I have received, it may not be possible.The reason for posting this question was to examine the feasibility of the idea.

Thanks to all who contributed.

I will now move on to my next endeavor, which has a better chance of succeeding:

Peace in the middle east.

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#18
In reply to #16

Re: Effect of Injecting CO into Soil

07/20/2011 11:05 AM

Diesels also produce significant levels of NOx's, which would cause other problems along with the other trace elements of diesel combustion (it is dirtier than gasoline combustion).

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