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Microwave cleaning

Use microwaves to clean up the stratosphere
  [vote for,

Use microwave lasers (masers) to break down water vapor in the stratosphre releasing OH- radicals which break down greenhouse gases.

The greenhouse effect is caused by several gases, not just CO2.

Methane is a very potent GHG and so are the chloroflurocarbons which also cause ozone depletion.

Back in the early 1990's the US nationl academy of sciences discussed the possibility of using lasers to destroy flurocarbons in the strratepshere and thereby reduce both global warming and the ozone hole but decided it was too expensive.

I think it would be more effective to increase the level of hydroxyl radicals in the atmosphere (OH-).

So I'd shoot two or more low-powered masers (microwave lasers) into the atmosphere from a high altitude so that they intersect in the stratosphere.

The power levels would be low enough at ground level not to cause environmental harm but the beams woudl reinforce when they intersected in the stratosphere.

Microwaves break down the water in the atmosphere into OH- and H+ ions which then break down other chemicals by reacting with them.

Converting methane to carbon dioxide would decrease global warming because methane has about twenty times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Breaking down chlorofurocarbons would have an even greater effect because they have a warming potential several hundred times that of carbon dioxide.

(There might be other ways of getting the same effect - for example, there are catalysts which also break down methane when exposes to light, coat balloons with them and float them in the stratosphere.

Iangould, Sep 28 2006


       It seems like this would just break the methane into CO2 (and water). Not a great gain for the cost.
omnilynx, Sep 29 2006

       And fried chicken will rain from the skies. Well, nuked starlings at the very least.
Galbinus_Caeli, Sep 29 2006

       sp. chlorofluorocarbons?   

       ...but I like the general idea... but would anyone like to offer some numbers about
1. CO2 produced by generation of energy to power the masers vs.
2. CO2-equivalent (in methane) broken down by resulting maser beams?

       For example, if the 'several hundred times' figure is based on mass of CO2 vs. equal mass of methane, and, for the sake of argument we postulate, conservatively, that several=3, then we have a break-even point where, say, every tonne of CO2 produced from, say, a dirty old coal-fired power station will allow us enough energy at the intersection of the maser-beams to break down three-and-a-bit kilos of methane.   

       So, does anyone know how much raw energy a power plant might yield for a tonne of CO2, and how much of that of that will lost in transit up to the remote plateaux where the masers sit?   

       If we know that, then we can think about how much energy the masers will lose cooking starlings and other small objects in the atmosphere below the intersection, how much will go straight through the intersection and head out into space, etc.   

       Then again, what if we had the masers powered by arrays of solar panels in the middle of a desert, the beams intersecting somewhere in a substantial gap between two or more such arrays, and the resultant water irrigating the desert? Or is there no methane over deserts?   

       sorry about incoherence, it's getting late here.
pertinax, Sep 29 2006


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