Why NH3 is not a candidate reagent for ambient CO2 fixation: A response to "alternative solution to global warming arising from CO2 Emissions - Partial neutralization of tropospheric H2CO3 with NH3"

Martin T. Johnson, Naomi E. Vaughan, Philip Goodwin, Colin Goldblatt, Sonia Roudesli, Timothy M. Lenton

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Abstract

It has been proposed that application of urea, or ammonium sulfate (plus lime) to nonagricultural land to evolve ammonia may provide a “solution” to increasing CO2 concentrations by neutralizing atmospheric carbonic acid to ammonium bicarbonate at ambient concentrations and subsequent storage in the surface ocean (Apak [2007]: Environmental Progress 26, 355–359). We identify a series of major flaws in this hypothesis, which indicate that the approach is unfeasible and would not succeed if attempted at any scale: (i) The phenomenal energy cost associated with breaking the NN bond and evolving H2 for NH3 production (and associated fossil fuel CO2 emissions under the current energy generation market); (ii) the radiative forcing associated with substantially increasing the concentration of ammonia in the atmosphere, and (iii) a number of unwanted indirect effects, including eutrophication, enhanced N2O emissions, and the inhibition of the oxidation of strong greenhouse gases such as methane in the atmosphere. We strongly urge future efforts to be directed away from this approach and suggest that engagement with the climate, earth-system, and biogeochemistry communities is essential when putting forward ideas for potential geoengineering approaches to mitigate global climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-417
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Progress
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008

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