UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Because Ocean Acidification is becoming a world problem, is there any way of separating CO2 from H2O?
Question Date: 2017-09-25
Answer 1:

At room temperature and atmospheric pressure, carbon dioxide is a gas. However, small amounts of gas can dissolve in water.

There are many ways to separate dissolved CO2 from water. One way is to raise the temperature of the water, or lower the pressure. Either of these methods will encourage any dissolved gases in the water, including CO2, to bubble out of the water and enter the surrounding atmosphere.

Another method involves pumping the water through a device called a membrane contactor. A membrane is a barrier that allows some things to pass through it, but not others. For example, air filters often use membranes that trap particles in the air, and allow clean air to pass through. In the case of a membrane contactor for CO2 removal, the membrane allows CO2 and other gases to pass through it, but not water. So, when water and dissolved CO2 flows past the membrane, the CO2 leaves the water and passes through the membrane, leaving water with much less dissolved gas.

An example flow rate for a membrane contactor, meaning how quickly you can remove gas, is around 100 gallons of water per minute. And, the volume of the ocean has been estimated to be about 0.3 billion cubic miles, or about 330,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons. So, to filter the CO2 from the ocean using a single membrane contactor would take approximately 6,000,000,000,000 years, or 6,000 times longer than the lifetime of the universe!

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use