Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

I'm pretty sure you have to have some calcium in there somewhere

According to a man who writes a column for a newspaper which believes itself to be the English-speaking world's definitive paper of record:

"If you combine CO2 with seawater, or any kind of briny water, you produce CaCO3, calcium carbonate."

Are you sure about that Airmiles?

I have no opinion one way or the other about the industrial process described or its large-scale viability (specifically because I don't know whether the world's oceans do or don't have lots of calcium dissolved in them, or whether tanker-loads of seawater can be transported to coal-burning power stations at reasonable cost, plus what do you do with the waste water), but I do have a couple of quite strong ones about the kind of person who will write such an obviously self-contradictory sentence without even thinking for a moment about how you put NaCl, CO2 and H2O together, and get Calcium anythingate. And of the presumed army of subs, fact-checkers and assorted hangers-on who enable him to print it; as IOZ, who I lifted this link from, correctly notes, this really does look like a commercial press release.

Update: See comments for speculation on how they actually do it, and envelope calculations showing that seawater can't possibly be the general solution. But note also a quite perfect Friedmanism with respect to the hero worship of Vinod Khosla. The scientist behind the calcium carbonate technology is someone called Brent Costantz, and he gets one solitary mention . Friedman knows who the real hero is - a rich bloke who bought some shares.

Update update: I am told by an ile-bidness pal from way back that people who are in the know will use the term "brine" to refer to any water with a lot of metal salts of any kind dissolved in it; there are lots of brines underground which are loaded with calcium and magnesium chlorides rather than the sort you might use for making sauerkraut. Which is probably where "briny water" came from, although "any kind of briny water" is still clearly wrong as you wouldn't be able to use briny water that didn't have a lot of calcium salts dissolved in it.

Double chemistry update: not just metal salts apparently! There are organic salts too! If you dissolved a load of cocaine hydrochloride in water, there are apparently some people out there who would call that a "brine". Presumably if the cocaine hydrochloride in question had been bought in a Camden nightclub, there would be quite a bit of calcium carbonate in there too.

I can't help noticing, by the way, that in the Calera FAQ the question arises "What will happen to the hydrochloric acid?". This is almost always a good question to ask.
10 comments this item posted by the management 3/07/2010 09:12:00 AM

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