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High Altitude Carbon Capture and Storage

Fractional distillation at the edge of space
  [vote for,

Take one Fridge Blimp [1] Park it directly over the south pole: at altitude, one should be able to access solar power 24/7/365.25

A trailing pipe below it draws up air from a denser part of the atmosphere. Being Antarctic air, it's already quite cold [2] [3]. Once aboard, the radiative cooling effect [4] is used to further cool and liquefy the air.

This liquid is then passed through a solar-thermal powered fractional distillation tower, to frack out the nasties such as CO2, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and other greenhouse gases.

These are further cooled into the solid phase and assembled into chunks of between say a kilogram and a hundred tonnes, depending on maths.

These pellets are then wrapped in reflective mylar and thermal insulation, and fired out of a solar-powered, blimp-supported, high-altitude linear accelerator.

To Mars. Via the interplanetary superhighway. [5]

We have too many GHGs, and one day, when we visit or colonise, we might like Mars to be a tad warmer than at present, and have a denser atmosphere. Two birds, one stone.

Variations and refinements to follow in comments.

BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016

[1] Fridge Blimp Fridge_20Blimp
[TIB]'s high altitude refrigeration plant. [BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016]

[2] Vostok Solid-State Sequestration Vostok_20Solid-State_20Sequestation
[vincevincevince] - "Vostok temperature averages -67C, down to -83C. Carbon dioxide freezes at -78C." [BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016]

[3] CO2 Ice Cap CO2_20Ice_20Cap
by [Vernon]. Same principle as above. [BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016]

[4] Cosmic Background Refrigeration Cosmic_20Background_20Refrigeration
Shameless elf-promotion [BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016]

[5] Interplanetary Transport Network https://en.wikipedi...y_Transport_Network
Low-energy - but slow - paths between planets. [BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016]

Antarctic Plateau https://en.wikipedi...i/Antarctic_Plateau
average elevation of about 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) [BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016]

South Pole Station https://en.wikipedi..._South_Pole_Station
A convenient base from which to begin construction, belonging to a space-faring nation. [BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016]

Dome A https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dome_A
Even higher and colder - the highest ice feature in Antarctica, an ice dome 4,093 metres (13,428 ft) above sea level. Temperatures fall below-80C (-112F) almost every winter, near -90C (-130F) in some winters. The lowest air temperature (-93.2C (-135.8F)) ever measured on the surface of the earth was recorded by satellite on August 10, 2010. [BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016]


       The main advantage of your linear accelerator being at altitude is that one avoids the payload having to pass through the bulk of the earth's atmosphere at high speed, thus being heated by friction.   

       However - the Antarctic plateau is already quite a high place. It also has the distinct advantage of being a solid and not a gas, and thus far easier to build stuff on. It's also nice and flat, which helps when building long straight things.   

       So, one could construct the linear accelerator on the icecap. Precisely at the South Pole might be best, as that would give you a wide choice of launch trajectories every 24 hours, and an even wider choice (by 23 degrees or so) over the course of a year.
BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016

       By the same logic, it may be high enough to make a surface-mounted Cosmic Background Refrigeration plant [4] effective enough to make the blimp redundant - in that it would already be above a large percentage of the IR-absorbing gases in the atmosphere.
BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016

       But aha, I hear you say - CO2 sublimates, however well insulated from the sun's fiery rays. So you will either lose payload to space, or have to construct a pressure vessel around it.   

       But aha, I say in return. One, provided the lost gases don't return to earth, so what?   

       If your dry ice pellet is large enough to hold any escaped gases as a gravitationally-bound atmosphere for a few months, they'll all end up somewhere in the vicinity of Mars.   

       Two - okay, so let's say we do construct a pressure vessel around it. Stick a rocket nozzle or six around the outside, and viola: manoevring rockets for orbital corrections en route.   

       Sublimated gases could be passed through solar-thermal heaters to increase their velocity for this use.
BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016

       Three - if we can make course corrections en route, we can aim our ice-teroids onto Mar's existing CO2 icecap. Given a large enough impact velocity, that should release some bonus atmosphere-thickeners for free.
BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016

       Plenty of O kicking around in space, on asteroids and such; why not just send the C ?
FlyingToaster, Aug 09 2016

       // Mars to ... have a denser atmosphere //   

       That would be good - so, just how is this idea going to increase Mars's gravity, and boost up the magnetosphere to stop the solar wind blowing the gases away ?
8th of 7, Aug 09 2016

       That's a millenia-timescale problem, I believe, not a decades-to-centuries one like Earthly global warming. With the liberated CO2 from warming Mars' polar icecap, this should give us a few centuries of warmer and denser atmospheric conditions in which to work on more permanent solutions.
BunsenHoneydew, Aug 09 2016

       Sorry to be picky, and I won't miss the carbon - but I'd really like to keep those two oxygen atoms. [=]
pertinax, Aug 14 2016

       Phases: 1. Fridge blimp raised. 2. Increased warming around pole. 3. Alarmingly rapid melting of snow. 4. Callback. 5. News conference saying its too late.
pashute, Aug 14 2016

       So park it at the equator.   

       I'm not sure the temporary waste heat production is that much of a problem, compared to the permanent removal from the atmosphere of CO2.
BunsenHoneydew, Sep 02 2016

       pertinax, I understand your point, but compared to the amount of O2 in the atmosphere, the amount of CO2 to remove is trivial.
BunsenHoneydew, Sep 02 2016

       I haven't read the idea yet, but could a side effect be alcohol?
normzone, Sep 02 2016


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