Carbon Sequestration through Sustainably Sourced Algal Fertilizer: Deep Ocean Water.
Abstract:Drawing down carbon from the atmosphere happens in the oceans when marine plants are growing due to the use of carbon dioxide for biological processes and by raising the pH of the water. Macro- and microscopic marine photosynthesizers are limited in their growth by the availability of light and nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, iron, etc.) Deep ocean water (DOW), oceanic water from bellow about 1000m, is a natural medium for marine algae, which contains all (except in rare circumstances) necessary components for algal growth and represents over 90% of the volume of the ocean. The introduction of DOW to a tropical or summer sea can increase chlorophyll from near zero to 60 mg per M3 or more.
The form of the utilization infrastructure for DOW can roughly be divided into two effective types; the unconstrained release and the open pond system. Unconstrained release has the advantage of having relatively low infrastructure investment and is available to any area of the ocean. The open pond system has high infrastructure costs but enables intensive use of DOW for harvesting macro- and microalgae and sustainable mariculture. It also enables greater concomitant production of DOW's other potential products such as electricity or potable water. However, unlike an unconstrained release the open pond system can capture much of the biomaterial from the water and limits the impact to the surrounding ecosystem.
The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System (TIESystem), is an open pond that is to be constructed on a continental shelf. It harnesses the tidal flux to pump DOW into the pond on the rising tide and then uses the falling tide to pump biologically rich material out of the pond. This biomaterial represents fixed CO2 and can be used for biofuel or fertilizers. The TIESystem benefits from an economy of scale that increases at a rate that is roughly equal to the relationship of the circumference of a circle (the barrier that creates the open pond) to the area of the pond multiplied by the tidal flux on that particular area of the continental shelf. Despite the large construction costs of artificial islands and structures robust enough to withstand the conditions of the continental shelf, the system will become economic as it grows in size. However, extensive research will be required to maximize the output of each subsystem and minimize the risk of pollution.