De Richter and Petersen plan. to spray iron salt aerosols into the air, where it will oxidize excess methane. Paul Beckwith calls this process “methane scrubbing.”
Summary 246 Scrubbing Methane from the Air
Renaud de Richter, Oswald Petersen, Paul Bcckwith, Metta Spencer
Metta Spencer is joined by Renaud de Richter from the University of Montpelier and Oswald Petersen, both involved in research and a pilot project using iron salts aerosol to oxidize methane in the atmosphere.
Petersen introduces AMR.Earth, a company he co-founded with de Richter and others, aiming to implement atmospheric methane removal. The team plans to inject iron salt aerosol, or ISA (FeCl3), into the atmosphere using a large tower to reach a height of 400 meters. This technique mimics a natural process where iron in dust reacts with seawater to produce iron trichloride, a catalyst facilitating methane oxidation. Enhancing this natural method, they plan to convert harmful methane into CO2, which, although a greenhouse gas, is less detrimental than methane.
While initially Spencer hoped for this method to be used in the Arctic, where methane emissions are particularly concentrated, Petersen explains that their plan requires a location with high solar energy, abundant in the equator region. Moreover, they prefer any residual product of the process to fall into the ocean rather than on land. Hence, the Arctic seems an unlikely location for this technique.
Theirs is a method to combat methane emissions, aiming to extract the methane from the atmosphere and neutralize its harmful effects. This approach involves dispersing iron aerosols at a height of between 500 and 1000 meters, to catalyze a chemical reaction that breaks down methane. Petersen emphasizes that methane concentrations are fairly uniform globally, negating the need for localized deployment. He also explains that the effectiveness of this method depends on the aerosol particle size and the duration they remain airborne, with smaller particles offering the most prolonged effect.
Renaud de Richter explains that the iron aerosols act as a catalyst in conjunction with UV light to remove hydrogen from the methane, producing hydrochloric acid, a process that naturally occurs in the environment. This acid then reacts with other elements to regenerate the catalyst, allowing the cycle to continue. He also addresses concerns about increased acidity in the environment, stating that their process doesn’t produce more acidity, but rather uses the existing acidity in the atmosphere and oceans.
Metta expresses concern about the project’s inability to quickly fix the Arctic’s climate situation, as current proposals aim to reduce methane concentration in places with abundant sunlight, which the Arctic lacks. Paul suggests a strategy to cool ocean currents that transport heat to the Arctic, like the Gulf Stream.
Oswald explains a proposed technique known as Enhanced Atmospheric Methane Oxidation (EMO). The process involves increasing the rate of natural methane oxidation through an aerosol catalyst called Iron Salt Aerosol (ISA), which will be released in the atmosphere from large towers. This process intends to halve the life of methane from the current 12.4 years to 6.2 years, thus reducing methane content in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels.
Paul raises concerns about the global average lifespan of methane, as concentrations and conditions vary across different latitudes. Oswald clarifies that they plan to place the towers near the equator for optimal sunlight and proximity to the ocean, allowing the ISA to fall into the ocean rather than on land.
They also discuss potential public backlash to such initiatives, highlighting the term “geoengineering” as a trigger for public fear. Instead, they propose using terms like “global climate management” or “climate restoration.”
Finally, Renaud mentions working on devices to address local, concentrated sources of methane, including abandoned gas or oil wells and underground coal mines. Paul notes that while flaring is currently the best method to manage methane, methane itself can be valuable and can be harnessed for positive use.
Oswald Petersen talks about the necessary balance of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is beneficial to plant life but has detrimental effects when present in excess. He suggests we need to manage the balance of gases in our atmosphere.
Paul Beckwith compares the reduction of methane to the successful reduction of acid rain problems, which was achieved through scrubbers, like electrostatic scrubbers on smokestacks.
Petersen explains that this new project is funded by friends, family, and a small amount of investment. Their plan involves building a tower to test their technology. The tower, after testing, will be transported to a Pacific Island for onsite tests. Their goal is to prove that their method can effectively reduce atmospheric methane. Once proven, they aim to secure the funds needed to construct a larger tower. Eventually, they plan to construct 20 of these towers near the equator.
Metta Spencer asks about the impact these towers will have on other greenhouse gases. Petersen replies that while this solution won’t solve the entire problem, it could potentially halt global temperature rise for 10 to 20 years, buying us time to transition away from CO2 dependence.
When questioned about potential negative side effects, Petersen mentions that some argue the project could lead to excessive ocean fertilization. However, Petersen counters that they will maintain a low concentration that will actually be beneficial to the ocean.
Paul Beckwith suggests comparing the iron levels from their project to the iron that naturally goes into the ocean from the Sahara Desert to alleviate concerns.
Beckwith suggests that the natural gas industry might be interested in funding this research. Oswald Petersen ends the conversation by expressing optimism about the future, echoing Barack Obama’s phrase: “Yes, we can.”
**This is a machine-generated transcript that may contain errors. Do not cite it without checking for yourself by watching the video and catching any obvious errors.**
Metta Spencer 0:00
Hi I’m Metta Spencer. Now, this could be the most important show that I’ve ever done. I don’t want to predict that it will be but I’ll tell you this : aerosols are the thing that I am pinning most of my big hopes on to save the world this project is called Project save the world which is a bit ambitious, but I do entertain people who have ideas about how to save the world from various global threats. In my opinion, the worst global threat was imminent — a catastrophic threat that the world faces right now ==methane clathrates and menthane hydrates and permafrost in the Arctic. and so we could do something about that. and there are not many people who have any ideas about what to do. But I have two men who are with me who think they know what may work and that’s what we’re going to talk about today iron salt aerosol and in the University of Montpelier in southern France. We have Renaud de Richter. hello, Renaud.
Renaud de Richter: Hello. Good to see you.
Metta Spencer: Great. and someplace in Switzerland we have Oswald Peterson. Where are you? Oswald forgotten your city?
Oswald Petersen 1:38
Hello, everybody. I’m in ____ which is near the German border in Switzerland.
Metta Spencer 1:43
Okay, he doesn’t look like he’s in Switzerland, does he? Both of you are heavily engaged in research on and I guess a pilot project on the use of iron salts aerosol to remove – Well, I guess methane but many other things too – from the atmosphere. It Since Your face is already out there, as well. Maybe you can start to start us off by telling the world what I can’t begin to explain.
Oswald Petersen 2:15
I’m very glad to introduce you into this new web page is here. This is the web page of AMR.Earth, which is the company I have founded with Renaud and 20 other shareholders about six weeks ago and it’s called AMR. That stands for atmospheric methane removal. Atmospheric methane removal is what we do. Or what we want to do. We don’t do it currently, but we plan to do it with this huge tower. Wow. That’s one means to do it is to have a towel that blows aerosol aerosol that you mentioned. That’s better into the atmosphere and we want to release it at 400 meters height. That’s why we need this huge tower. Of course, this is a photo montage so it doesn’t really exist, but our that somebody placed into this photo of that is actually St. Kitts in the Caribbean, but it will not be St. Kitts where we place. It will be right next to the ocean and there will be a ship right next to it and all that is real, and that will also be windmills. So that is all sort of going to be true, but it’s a vision we don’t really have $25 million yet which we need to build this and this tower and this pipe which runs within the tower that is a small pipeline that will inject either salt aerosol into the atmosphere. And that’s why we call it an atmospheric injection pipe. It’s more like an injection syringe for the atmosphere and and that is really what we want to do. We want to the climate to get healthy with this syringe. So that’s very similar to COVID. In that we want to heal our planet with this atmospheric injection pipe. and the material that we put in into it is called ISA — that is for iron salt aerosol. and that is a material that will act in the atmosphere to remove or to oxidize more exactly methane into co2. This process I think is much better explained by Renaud.
Renaud de Richter:
Yeah. In fact, in the atmosphere there are several natural ways by way the methane is removed. and one of them is the proline radicals which are produced by the sea water and the sea salt naturally by the UV light. and, in fact, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, it has been discovered that iron can catalyze. With very few amounts of iron you can produce a huge amount of carbon atoms and you can accelerate and enhance this natural removal of methane by chlorine atoms right now — from sodium chloride — and so it’s not chlorine gas. It’s chlorine atom, which is produced by UV in a similar process that produced on the swimming pools when you want to swim there. It’s disinfection in the atmosphere, the UV produces chlorine atoms and they react very fast — 16 times faster with methane than the radicals ….. is detrimental. The atmosphere removes all your organic compounds. It’s a natural process also. And chlorine atoms react 16 times faster with methane than it was __ radicals. And if you can
Metta Spencer 6:35
You’re dealing with somebody who got a C in high school chemistry and that’s as far as I went. So, I do understand NaCl I believe that salt.That’s about my limits. So you’re going to have to work real hard to help me understand what you’re talking about. You’re going to take iron salts. Chemically, what is this all about? and what’s going to happen? I mean, if I can I
Oswald Petersen 7:08
Can I help a little bit — because the same as you met are very, very bad at chemistry. So I always have to, since I tried to run this project, I had to go to school and learn a bit more about this chemistry, but I have understood that there is a catalyzer now, catalyze it is and I do you remember that from school is something that is within a IDreaction, but that’s not really participate in the reaction, but it makes the reaction happen. But it gets out and it’s still unchanged. It doesn’t it’s not part of the reaction. So that was fascinating back in school. When I was 17. It’s still fascinated because that’s what we do. We do put something into the air and that makes a reaction happen, but itself the ISA does not change. So it’s it’s a catalyzer
Metta Spencer 8:01
Okay, so the iron salt aerosol is mostly a combination of iron and chlorine, right that you get from doing — what do you put out there in the first place it mixes with the chlorine in this salty air.
Oswald Petersen 8:20
We will we will actually put out FeCl three which I told
Metta Spencer 8:24
ft is a sea of three
Oswald Petersen 8:27
three atoms of car.
Metta Spencer 8:30
That’s going to do something to the salt?
Oswald Petersen 8:33
That is the salt — that is the same It’s okay. It’s iron salt. It’s a salt of iron.
Metta Spencer 8:43
Okay, okay. Okay.
Oswald Petersen 8:45
So that’s a long process.
Renaud de Richter:
It already occurred so naturally, when you have desert dust over the oceans with the wind, you have this sea salt from the ocean, two ways, and it reacts in the atmosphere in the clouds producing iron trichloride. and this trichlorice it’s the catalyst which will produce carbon atoms which will oxidize the methane, but then sea salt regenerates the catalyst, provides again that which has been consumed and the iron is not consumed.
Oswald Petersen 9:34
What Renaud calls iron chloride, I call FeCl3. And you call it ISA. That’s all the same.
Metta Spencer 9:40
But the original source of this I believe I saw in someplace that you get it in the atmosphere anyway from dust that there’s dust and you get it from storms in the Sahara, which blows across the Atlantic. I’m jumping the gun but I’m trying to understand where it comes from. Originally.
Oswald Petersen 10:07
Any desert any desert that has some dust. ust always contains iron. and therefore if you blow dust up, then you always blow iron up. It’s always in the other end. If you have red sand, for example, you know that? In the east of USA everything’s red, very red. That is from iron.. So and it all sand there’s always iron.
Metta Spencer 10:36
Okay, we’re just gonna put more of it up there?
Oswald Petersen 10:39
While we will just enhance that’s why we call this the process we call it E a m that is enhanced atmospheric methane oxidation. Because atmospheric methane oxidation is something that happens naturally. It’s already the nature already already does it and we enhance that process. So that’s why we called Enhanced atmospheric oxidation. Now there’s one word that is difficult there is methane “Removal” because it is not really removed, it’s oxidized. So there is something that remains after the oxidation and that is co2. So we actually changed methane into co2. So it’s not removed in that sense that people think about co2 removal where it’s actually stored into the into the bottom of the earth or something. We do not remove methane oxidizing. and
Metta Spencer 11:41
we would not be normally thrilled with anybody who came along and said, I’m gonna give you more co2. The only reason to be excited about it is it’s so much better than the methane. That’s a good trade or is that right? That’s greenhouse gas. We would much rather have co2 than methane. So to convert methane to co2, we should all jump for joy. I understand that if you burn it, that’s what happens too.
Oswald Petersen 12:14
Exactly right. So if you for example, see a flare of gas company, like they burn off the the methane, you see those huge flares from a chimney, and you think, Oh, these are bad people they’re burning in in the air. Actually, these are not bad people. They are doing a good thing there because if you burn the methane and that’s exactly what you want to do, then you get co2 Right. If you do not burn, if you just leave out the methane without burning it, that would be much worse. That is because the methane in the atmosphere has a global warming potential, that’s how we call it 120 times higher than co2. So so the non-burned method is the real problem, not the burnt one. Because co2 and you’re right co2 is also a huge problem. But one molecule of methane is much worse than methane of CO2.
Metta Spencer 13:18
the first thing that occurs to me is all those plumes of methane coming off the East Siberian sea. and I saw a a video of a ship going through that region, and it was like a plane flying through clouds. It was so thick with this white stuff coming up. and somebody said, Look, don’t smoke while you’re there, because it could ignite it. Well, why not just burn it then up there. and indeed, why not? Why are you going to use iron salt rather than just trying to burn it? Where you’re going to do it?
Renaud de Richter: 14:00
In fact, to be able to burn it to the concentration has to be about 5%. and in the atmosphere it’s only 0.2% so it can burn and very quickly. It’s very light gas, who rises pretty rapidly and diffuses pretty rapidly. So it’s very rapid detected. and so you can learn as soon as it’s less than 1% or
Oswald Petersen 14:35
The idea is not so bad because in some places there is actually burning methane inside Siberia and I’ve seen photos where you can see it actually burning coming out of the ground and burning and that you’re right. Yes, that’s a good idea. But you have to go to many places to burn it.
Metta Spencer 14:53
Your real plan is not to do it in the Arctic. But in over the ocean someplace. and that’s because that’s where there’s salty air, is that right?
Oswald Petersen 15:05
There’s two reasons why we want to do near the equator. On the ocean. The first reason is to drive this process in energy and energy in this case comes from the sun so this whole process when I said like we’re ISA actually makes methane oxidize into co2 needs energy and the energy is solar energy that is UV light. Now, in the ARctic you have very little UV light because the sun is not shining. Actually half the year there’s no sun at all. and then in the other part of the year, it’s very stormy but bad weather so the UV light is very bad. Whereas at the equator the heat is much so you need as much sun as possible. That’s why I’m here in this wonderful island. Because here the sun is shining right so that’s one big thing. We want lots of sun. In the night it doesn’t work. The only works at daytime — only works when the sun is shining. So for example, Okay, that’s one reason. and the other reason is that when it comes down, we would prefer to fall into the ocean rather than on land, but that is not so important. It’s not dangerous.
Metta Spencer 16:28
Okay, now you’ve just punctured my biggest hope because what I was hoping is that you guys would go up to the Siberian sea, and and set up your pipe and spew the aerosol into the atmosphere and, and handled it there because that’s where it’s really concentrated. You know? This methane coming out of the bottom of the ocean is the scary part. Or at least the most risky, immediate urgent problem, but sounds like your plan won’t work up there. We have to do it in the equator. Oh dear.
Oswald Petersen 17:05
Becaue it’s this little sun. It would work but it wouldn’t work as well as on the Pacific. and if you go up to where we want to operate — this 600 meters then the concentration even near a methane source in Siberia is not so very different from the Pacific. The concentration is always around two ppm, parts per million or three, maybe sometimes three ppm, but it doesn’t really vary very much in this height. Of course at the bottom, near a source Yes, it would be much stronger. But then you could again, go back and say I avoid the lesson in the first place. Because when you’re at the source, you can just you can just say all right, let’s stop the source so it’s not coming out you know? That is what we recommend for sources. Of course we recommend that methane sources are stopped. Yeah. Other approach we want to take that methane out of the atmosphere that cannot be stopped.
Metta Spencer 18:15
so that’s already all around the world, That’s evenly distributed?
Oswald Petersen 18:21
Yeah, it goes 10% up or down. It’s very evenly distributed, so doesn’t really matter where you are. It’s very even. Yeah, I think if you go to the Permian Basin where you have lots of oil leaks and gas leaks from the oil industry, and it will be maybe four PPM — that’s a bit more in their height. But you want to do it at a great height because then it will stay in the air for a long time. Right if you don’t do it at the high level, just drop into the ocean and then it’s gone.
Metta Spencer 19:00
Why not have airplanes fly along and spew it out? Because they are high anyway and they’re going to be up there.
Oswald Petersen 19:08
Too high. We want to be between 500 and 1000 meters. But the airplanes are 11,000 meters so they are way too far. We can’t use airplanes. Yeah, we did speak about airplanes. Your thoughts are very good. We went through all of them. But we ended up where we are now, where we signed up to build this tower and bring it up into the air at that height — exactly that height because it could be a higher — could be six seven meters but would just cost a bit more.
Metta Spencer 19:40
Okay, now what happens? You go up there you spray this stuff. What kind of diameter of a region with this thing cover your until, for example,
Oswald Petersen 19:56
Look at nature right? If you look at nature, look at the Sahara by blows up. Most of it comes from Mali as I understand but it’s blown up and it goes over to the Amazon. It fertilizes the Amazon 5000 miles away. and we want to do the same. We wanted to travel for 1000s and 1000s of miles and we want the best will be it never came down but it will come. Yeah, the best would be very to stay up there for 10 weeks or eight weeks. That’s my hope really. But we cannot really prove how long it will stay up there unti. . So we we hope that it will stay up there as long as possible. There are many parameters. and again, Renaud would be in a better position to explain but in principle, you’d say the smaller the particle is, the longer it will stay up. and it’s clear — we’ve learned so much now through COVID about about aerosols. Everybody knows like two years ago nobody knew what an aerosol. Now everybody does. COVID aerosol stays above the ground. If I sneeze, I’m almost two meters. So if I sneeze it up? Well then it can stay above ground 16 hours. So that’s how long it can infect somebody, right? So if we get the same — if we get like eight hours per meter, then you have 400 meters times eight hours.
Metta Spencer 21:37
okay. Now you got this iron stuff in the atmosphere way up, but it stays there and it is a catalyst that makes other things happen. It stays there and continues doing it again and again. Renaud, you got to explain this one to me. What is it that it is affecting and turning into what up there? and what happens to it? Does this stuff fall out? The co2 spray. What’s the residue after the iron aerosol has done its job. What do you have left over and where does it go?
Renaud de Richter: 22:20
The first step is the ion trigger right? The catalyst with UV light we generate the crew an atom which will remove hydrogen from the methane and then you produce hydrochloric acid. But this already occurs in natural oil you will put radical material which will react very fast with the oxygen in the air rapidly through reaching the oxidation state of carbon dioxide and HCl (Hydrochloric acid) will be recycled in clouds in the humidity and with the sodium chloride from the sea salt. It will regenerate the catalyst iron chloride, which will start again generating opponents and reacting to them. And this stays in the interface between the water vapor and the gas phase. The oxygen and the nitrogen in the atmosphere and you have this transfer from one phase to another phase which occurs naturally very fast. I hope it was relatively clear.
Metta Spencer 23:57
Okay, so is there any reason to be worried about whatever’s left over? You talk about hydrochloric acid Well, is that a problem? I mean, do we do really have to worry about having too much hydrochloric acid in our in our world after you guys have finished your test?
Renaud de Richter: 3 24:19
In fact that currently there are around 300 PPM (parts per million) of hydrochloric acid on older coasts and much more along the coasts which have a lot of pollution. And it naturally occurs that when you use your car you produce have some nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants in cities which would create the ozone etc. And these are natural oxides will produce acidity in the atmosphere and it will react naturally with the sea salt and you will obtain sodium nitrate and they would release hydrochloric acid. So, when we take your car near the coast, you are already producing acidity with carbon dioxide and with the nitrogen oxides. Which react with sea salt and hydrochloric acid. So the concentration of 200 or 200 parts per million. This year is already natural and they’re from all the coasts. And also when the ships or when the power plants burn fuel containing sulfur, they will release so to SO2, sulfur dioxide
Metta Spencer 26:10
This is like bunker oil exhaling?
Renaud de Richter: 26:16
The sulfur pollution is well known from all the power plants and the ships that burn sulfur in the atmosphere produces sulfates and sulfuric acid. And this one will react also and release HCl and the seas salt will be transformed form NaCL to Na2SO4, which is a sodium sulfate.
Is that a problem?
Renaud de Richter:
No, it’s not a problem. It’s already occurring. We’re already aware of it.
Metta Spencer 27:21
But it’s not good. already. I mean, it’s not something we are celebrating?
Renaud de Richter: 27:28
No. Sure. But this also occurs with the volcanoes, which release large amounts of hydrochloric acid and hydrosulfuric acid and there are many different natural emissions of acidity in the atmosphere. So, it will not produce much more acidity than already exists. And this is recycled in the process to regenerate the catalyst and regenerate the chlorine atom that will destroy the methane that will oxidize.
Metta Spencer 28:18
So we don’t want to put any more acidity in the ocean. But isn’t what you’re going to do going to put more acidity into the ocean.
Renaud de Richter: 28:29
Not really because the acidity will come from the ocean. The chlorine comes from the sea salt, which already comes from the ocean. and in fact, all the carbon dioxide we breathe and we emit with our cars and our trucks is an acid. So we are just using this acidity and the process uses it but we’re not producing more.
Metta Spencer 29:06
Okay, well I feel better now. Okay. So now you’re going — you’re going to clean up the whole world. You’re not going to specialize in the Arctic. Well, I have to find somebody else to help me with the Arctic but because I think we got to worry about that first. But you’re gonna put up these towers. and how many of them do you need? Here comes a friend of mine named Paul Beckwith. and Paul is also a climatologist. Hello, Paul.
Oswald Petersen 29:45
Hi. Great to meet you, Paul.
Paul Beckwith 29:47
I couldn’t come on at the beginning of the call.
Metta Spencer 29:50
Okay, I was just asking them what they got me worried now because they can’t fix the Arctic as quick as I want them to. They have to specialize in parts of the ocean where they get enough sunshine and there’s not enough sunshine in the Arctic. So it looks like we’ve got to work on some other approach, Paul, if we’re going to solve the Arctic.
Paul Beckwith 30:13
But you can do it on. You can cool the ocean currents that go up northtowards the Arctic, like the Gulf Stream as it crosses the Atlantic Right. You know, and moves northward. You can target certain areas. You know, we’re in lots of heat is transported up to the Arctic,
Metta Spencer 30:32
But maybe you want to do another quick recap of what I hope I have learned so far. And then Paul can pick up from there and introduce comments, I was about to say: I want to know what kind of an operation it would be to try to actually remove the methane from the atmosphere sufficiently by the technique that they’re proposing — how many of these towers they need, and where they put them and things like that. So oh, here comes Oswald’s little diagram again. Oswald or somebody, start over and back up a little bit of conversation.
Oswald Petersen 31:16
That’s right with Paul. I will start with EMO — that is enhanced atmospheric methane oxidation. That’s what we plan to do. So atmospheric make its oxidation without enhanced is something that occurs in nature. That is a process where methane oxidizes cH4 — oxidizes, turns into co2 and water. So that’s a normal process and all methane actually does that and then the methane is gone. So that’s the normal oxidation. Now, if we say “enhance,” that means that we will put a catalyst which is called ISA, iron salt aerosol, into the atmosphere, or we plan to do that and that we will do at 400 to 600 meters of height. So that’s why we need a huge tower to bring it up there. and then that will act as a catalyst to make that atmospheric methane oxidation happen more frequently. So then the lifetime of the methane will be shorter. Right now at this stage. lifetime of method is about 12.4 years — has been calculated by very good scientists and we just take over that number and we want to shorten the life of method to half, so that would be 6.2 years. Now that would halve the content of methane in the atmosphere. and that would bring the methane content in the atmosphere back to pre industrial level, because pre-industrial level is about 4.7 parts per million and now we are at 1.9 parts per million. So it has not only doubled but two and a half times more methane is in the atmosphere now than it was let’s say naturally, let’s say before industrial is most natural. That’s the natural methane content. and we want to go back to that methane content that nature had. You don’t want to destroy all method because it’s not the natural method content to be zero. Even though there’s nothing that methane does like — if you were to reduce all co2 of the atmosphere, then we would all die because plants couldn’t live anymore, right? So co2 is really important. But if methane theoretically you could just take it all out and nobody would. But we don’t want to do that. We want to reduce it to the normal to the natural before industrial times. Okay, which means we have to halve its lifetime and to do that we want to create this enhanced atmospheric oxidation process. Okay we would love for you to jump in or you have any questions or
Paul Beckwith 34:20
Yeah, one question is: that point four years is a sort of globally averaged lifetime number. You know, the the the O H radical concentration is quite varied with latitude. Wouldn’t the methane lifetime in the Arctic, for example, be much longer than the lifetime at lower latitudes? Of course, there is mixing and global circulation, but if you have sources of methane in the Arctic, then the concentrations there are, you know, of course, much higher. and part of that is because there’s much less water vapor up in the high Arctic, and there’ll be much less hydroxide radicals as a result. So, have you have you looked at that variant? Where would you locate these towers, where
Oswald Petersen 35:19
We would locate them near the equator because we want as much light as possible. Sunlight will drive the process and we need right UV light. and that is one reason and the other reason is we want to be near the ocean, because favorably we would want the ISA to fall into the ocean rather than on land. Again, we would like to be on a Pacific Island because the Pacific has less iron than the Atlantic and therefore the iron would be more beneficial to the ocean in the Pacific. But that is again not so important. For us the most important process is the atmospheric methane oxidation. and we do not go to the Arctic, even though you’re right, that concentration would be a bit higher, but at the height where we are at 400 to 600 meter, that difference is not so big, and therefore it is more important to have the UV for the process to happen and therefore we will go near the equator. That’s our plan at this stage. It is our vision plan.
Paul Beckwith 36:37
Right? The big advantage of this method is that the foreseen negative consequences are really minimized because, you know, it’s just iron. It’s salt, right? It’s quite different from putting sulfur into the stratosphere, for example, in terms of the possible negative effects, but have you thought much about getting sort of public acceptance of this idea? I mean, it’s kind of crazy, but you probably are aware of the spice project where they wanted to put water vapor into the atmosphere from high altitude balloons. and that project was stopped or halted recently just because of public perception. I just made a trip through Northern Ontario and I went through industrial towns like Sudbury.We had the acid rain problem in North America and a lot of the source was in Sudbury, the nickel mining. There’s a lot of sulfur released in the smelting and it was destroying all the vegetation locally in the town and turning Subury into kind of like a moonscape. So they put in the superstack they call it. It’s actually a 380 meter takk smokestack. They just did stuff like that. Like there was no public outcry saying you can’t do that. and, you know, we live in a world where you know, companies can build huge industrial infrastructure and strip away the boreal forests and tear down into the soil 50 100 meters with huge scrapers to expose the bitumen. Talking about the tar sands are Canada’s oil sands and meanwhile, some scientists want to put up a balloon and release a water vapor, and then some calcium. and there’s public outcries and they get shut down. We’re in a crazy world right now, where if they didn’t say anything and just did it — How do we deal with that? We need a billionaire to fund this project — and just go and do it. Have you looked at maybe, Elon Musk for this?
Oswald Petersen 39:23
Of course, finance is not the biggest problem we have. The biggest problem is SSIs public perception and public perception in our day and is something that goes very fast. I mean, you can sort of build something for three or four years and then suddenly, you get a shitstorm in Facebook, and then it just goes down to two days and then it’s gone. So you have to be very, very careful about your public image.
Metta Spencer 39:49
You know what I think it is, there’s just one word, and it triggers everybody’s fears. It’s word “geo engineering.” If they hear that word, you game over, you can’t do it, whatever it is, I think, you know, I certainly geoengineering could cup could conceivably cover everything, including planting trees, you know,
Paul Beckwith 40:13
yeah, I mean, just don’t use that word. You’re right. You could do a project for three, four years. Nothing. Goes on Facebook and gets the social media virus and then there’s a storm. The trick is, you just ignore the storm,
Metta Spencer 40:33
I think there actually. is some kind of international laws saying you can’t do something without permission anymore.
Oswald Petersen 40:39
No, that’s not. That is not really the problem. I think Paul is quite right that the public image is really, really something we have to be very careful about. But then again, you see, we have to acknowledge that engineering is just a word. and we shouldn’t be frightened by a word. and what we what we want to do is we want to manage the global climate. So call it go with climate management. That’s a better way to do this. There is no other choice. We have to realize that man has to come to mind where we have to manage our climate like we manage everything else. We have to manage our time. and don’t call it do engineering, call it global climate management —
Paul Beckwith 41:29
Climate restoration is what — there’s a group called the Healthy Climate Alliance. Peter Fiekowsky is climate restoration. Right? Is the idea the idea to bring co2 down to pre industrial so this is to bring methane down to pre industrial. Have you considered getting some sort of smaller, more modular device that could go on mining sites. When they mine there’s often natural gas released from the oil and then they have a choice. They can either flare it off permit from the smokestack and flare it off, or they just release it. Or there’s a methane leak from time to time like the one in California that went months. So is there a device that you could envision that could go on, more portable, that can go to as a really strong source of methane. Tje choice is flaring it or releasing it to the atmosphere? Or perhaps your device could neutralize the methane from
Renaud de Richter: 3 42:41
I am working on the this type of devices to address local sources of concentrated methane before it gets diluted. and before we get to the atmosphere. One of them is by photocatalysis and the other one is by generation of chlorine atoms but not releasing it in our atmosphere, containing them in the ventilation system and in the states there are more than 100,000 abandoned gas or oil wells, underground coal mines, and many, many of them are leaking methane. So we’re also working with Osborn, but we’re also working on the state of addressing the local sources for methane.
Paul Beckwith 43:37
Right, the best way presently is to flare the stuff, right? That’s better for the environment than just letting it go up in raw form when it’s full service.
Oswald Petersen 43:54
Sometimes you can actually use it because method is quite valuable. So
Paul Beckwith 43:58
yeah, yes, usually the problem is it’s hard to transport. It’s not like liquid. Liquid’s a perfect substance to fuel industry, right, because it’s a lot easier to transport than coal even, for example,
Oswald Petersen 44:20
It’s methane, and it’s a good thing, methane is not a bad thing.
Paul Beckwith 44:24
Yes, yes. I mean, it’s just natural gas. Yeah. So
Oswald Petersen 44:29
Ot’s the same with co2. I mean, now the sea change that is going on it’s, it’s, it’s stupid, because Co2 is what plants live on. This is very essential and good thing to have co2. It’s just a little bit too much.
Paul Beckwith 44:42
Yeah, exactly. ISA’s marketed as as sort of like a scrubber for methane. What really reduced the acid rain problem was the scrubbers, like electrostatic scrubbers on smokestacks.
Oswald Petersen 45:01
Yeah, that’s good. That was really good. But now, we have to be aware of the fact that this pollution also had some beneficial aspects, which also cleaned up now. I don’t go back to pollution. I don’t say oh, we have to go back and get rid of the scrubbers. But we have to manage the climate. We have to go to a point where we actually decide how much of this and how much of that is in the atmosphere. and
Metta Spencer 45:33
Can I go back to where I was about to ask when Paul came in? and that is, how many of these towers or installations are you going to need to reduce the atmospheric methane by how much? I believe that you say you’re doing a project. You’re working on a pilot project now. What’s the status of the thing you’re doing? You’re the manager. So what are you managing and what do you hope to manage?
Oswald Petersen 46:10
Well, we have three phases of our project. and the first phase is now. We have founded the company and we have a very small amount. It’s just friends and families, and Renauld, but he’s also a friend of family. We have 100,000 francs, which is not very much and then we do a lot of research for that. Now, the second phase will be to build a preliminary project. The tower will be 36 meters. and we will then sort of build a 10 times smaller tower with a small sprayer, and then we will test the whole technique technology. That will be probably built in Europe, and then it will be transported to the Pacific Island and then it will be rebuilt there. and then we can test it on site. and then when this testing is done, which will take say one and a half years all together. and we need about a million dollars for that (not 25 million) then if that is all fine, and we can say it works, we can prove it does actually reduce the method and we need so much to reuse so much less than at all. Then we will hopefully get the 25 million which we need to build the big tower. Of course we don’t really have 25 million in our pockets. So we need to find somebody who will help us with the finance. But then again, as I said before, I don’t think that finance will be such a big problem because it’s a very, very attractive idea and we will find the finance but the public image is what we have to care for. That is really the risk and partially because Paul’s found the right spot that we must be careful with the public image. We will in the end need about 20 of these towers. So it’s all done. We’ll have 20 of these towers near the equator on all different islands.
Metta Spencer 48:25
These this would remove something like half of the methane in the atmosphere because you want to leave the other half there for good reasons. But now that just takes care of methane, but you still have co2 and nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other greenhouse gases, right. That’s right. So how much of an impact would this these 20 some odd towers do? Out of the total greenhouse gas problem, the whole global warming problem?
Oswald Petersen 48:57
It would not solve the problem. But it would contribute to the solving of the problem. and I would say it would stop the warming. If we tomorrow could put up those 20 times which we can’t. But if we could if we could stop him tomorrow and and blow the stuff out. Then we could I would say stop the growth of global temperatures for about 10 or 20 years. After 10 or 20 years then it would not work anymore because then the co2 growth would kick in. and then it would again start growing. We could stop it for some time, maybe 10 or 20 years, the growth of temperatures and that is very valuable because what we need is time. We still have to revert all our economy and go away from co2. There is no way away from that we can’t replace that and we are not. We are very much in favor of all alternative energies of all electric cars. All that has to happen but we just don’t have enough time and this will buy us time, will buy us maybe 20 years, but then stop doing it again. Because then we won’t need it anymore.
Metta Spencer 50:14
I think the next step in the discourse about it is, people will say well, what harm will it do? and if you if you can save what are the worst things that might be the result of what you’re planning? What are the potential bad side effects that one must take into account objections to doing it?
Oswald Petersen 50:44
well there’s cost, there’s there’s cost. It costs a lot of money.
Metta Spencer 50:48
That’s not enough. What people will want to say is, they will talk about putting sulfur in the atmosphere and then somebody will talk about things like all the things that could happen from sulfur, but the environmental impact of this. Are there any potential negative side effects?
Paul Beckwith 51:06
Well, I think that’s maybe a better way to look at it is, it’s really a methane scrubber device. So it’s so it removes pollution. In fact, you never you don’t even need to mention climate change. With this device, you can just say that the methane levels from industry are too high. and this device is exactly an anti pollution control devices and then talk about the history of you know, the industrial processes have put for example, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter up into the atmosphere. So then what they did is they put new technologies on the smokestacks to remove the sulfur, to not let it go into the air at all. These electrostatic scrubbers, pollution scrubbers, right. They can’t get rid of the methane. So now we just want to do the same thing to the methane. We want to scrub the methane pollution out of the atmosphere. Sure to the side effect will be that it will reduce climate change significantly. But if we learned if it was marketed as a geoengineering things, and yeah, it’ll it’ll be halted. So it’s very easy to market it as doing something else. and then the side effect is to
Metta Spencer 52:28
All I’m saying, Paul, is before they ever put that big smokestack up, somebody should have said, Yeah, but look what’s happening if you do that, it’s just gonna go someplace else, right. But this argument should have taken the argument should have taken place immediately before they even put the thing of course.
Paul Beckwith 52:47
But things don’t operate in a logical fashion like this. I mean, we build nuclear bombs and then we figure out how to regulate the retail.
Metta Spencer 52:58
Say, Well, tell me first what might go wrong. Tell me then the bad news. What
Paul Beckwith 53:04
It doesn’t work and then methane goes way, way up. It’s pretty hard to make a case that reducing methane is is something can go wrong. If it really either works or doesn’t work it removes.
Metta Spencer 53:17
For example, I asked, are you going to add hydrochloric acid to the ocean and make it more acid and then I was assured know that you’re just putting back to what you got. You’re not making it more or less than handle that argument. But there may be other arguments as well. No, sorry. Yes.
Oswald Petersen 53:35
Can I help you a little bit with that? Because there’s a group that says that it might be risky to have it in the ocean and you have already hinted at that point. So there’s really no big resistance against the part where it’s called atmospheric methane oxidation. But the stuff eventually will fall into the ocean and then it also does something. We don’t say that. We think we think and we are very convinced actually that it was beneficial for the answer. But there are other people who say that it is not beneficial for the ocean because it fertilizers and it does can create a bloom of algae. So when you have more plants growing, and there is people who say that this is not a good idea, we say actually, because it’s diluted so much and we will spread it over 1000s and 1000s of square miles before it reaches the concentration will be sell so little, that it will be something like oh point one milligram per square meter. So I can laughing at all and therefore it is actually beneficial. We do say that but to help you because there’s other people who will attack us and they will attack us with this argument. They will say: you are doing ocean iron, fertilization and that is not good. and then they will come with
Paul Beckwith 55:05
Okay, so then so then all you need to do is you to compare the levels of iron that go in and the dispersal to iron goes into the ocean from the dust from the Sahara Desert. Exactly right. and you can show that the concentrations are minimal compared to dust blowing in and so you could argue, well, if this is harmful, then you have to stop the Sahara Desert. Winds from blowing the dust into the ocean, right, which has been going on forever. That’s right, yes. and compare it to the natural processes right. And also you emphasize that this is, you know, this is this is to restore the conditions to what we had what we had before.
Speaker 3 55:54
And it’s a nature-based method and in fact, nature has been doing this irons salt aerosol for millions of years and in fact, one thing that could be wrong would be to go back to glacial eras.
Paul Beckwith 56:15
Much of it, yes, yes. and the other thing is, it would seem to me that there should be a huge interest with the natural gas industry for funding, this type of funding this research.
Oswald Petersen 56:29
We’re reaching out to them that we are still very small.
Paul Beckwith 56:36
Yeah, I understand but I mean, any of the companies that are extracting natural gas and transporting and of course, I mean, the industry has been exploiting natural gas was touted as a bridge fuel. You know, and it turns out, of course with you know, that was just propaganda. It’s a bridge fuel, I mean, with leak rates of approaching five to 10% leak rates. It’s worse than coal, natural gas.
Oswald Petersen 57:05
Metta Spencer 57:07
I hope that you guys will, if you haven’t already, tried to get contact with John Kerry, because he’s the guy with the power on this issue and he makes sure he knows what you’re doing. Okay. Okay, one last word. What is it want to save as well, before we find out?
Oswald Petersen 57:26
I want to repeat what what Barack Obama said. I just want to say: yes, we can.
Metta Spencer 57:33
All right. Great. Beautiful. Thank you owe this has been fascinating. and I will be watching for further developments. For sure. Keep me posted. All right. Well,
Paul Beckwith 57:45
Nice to meet you. I should read all of your literature and documents and stuff and then we should have a technical call about it. You see how I’m very I’m very interested with what you’re doing. So you know, it’s great stuff. It’s great.
Oswald Petersen 58:01
Thanks. Thanks a lot.
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