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Title: Whitings as a Potential Mechanism for Controlling Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations – Final Project Report

Abstract

Species of cyanobacteria in the genera Synechococcus and Synechocystis are known to be the catalysts of a phenomenon called "whitings", which is the formation and precipitation of fine-grained CaCO3 particles. Whitings occur when the cyanobacteria fix atmospheric CO2 through the formation of CaCO3 on their cell surfaces which leads to precipitation to the ocean floor and subsequent entombment in mud. Whitings represent one potential mechanism for CO2 sequestration. Research was performed to determine the ability of various strains of Synechocystis and Synechococcus to calcify when grown in microcosms amended with 2.5 mM HCO3- and 3.4 mM Ca2+. Results indicated that while all strains tested have the ability to calcify, only two, Synechococcus species, strains PCC 8806 and PCC 8807, were able to calcify to the extent that CaCO3 was precipitated. Enumeration of the cyanobacterial cultures during testing indicated that cell density did not appear to have an effect on calcification. Factors that had the greatest effect on calcification were CO2 removal and subsequent generation of alkaline pH. As CO2 was removed, growth medium pH increased and soluble Ca2+ was removed from solution. The largest increases in growth medium pH occurred when CO2 levels dropped below 400 ppmv. Precipitation of CaCO3more » catalyzed by the growth and physiology of cyanobacteria in the Genus Synechococcus represents a potential mechanism for sequestration of atmospheric CO2 produced during the burning of coal for power generation. Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 8806 and Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 8807 were tested in microcosm experiments for their ability to calcify when exposed to a fixed calcium concentration of 3.4 mM and dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations of 0.5, 1.25 and 2.5 mM. Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 8806 removed calcium continuously over the duration of the experiment producing approximately 18.6 mg of solid-phase calcium. Calcium removal occurred over a two-day time period when Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 8807 was tested and only 8.9 mg of solid phase calcium was produced. The ability of the cyanobacteria to create an alkaline growth environment appeared to be the primary factor responsible for CaCO3 precipitation in these experiments. These research results demonstrate the potential of using cyanobacterial catalyzed “whitings” as a method to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.« less

Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
Sponsoring Org.:
DOE - FE
OSTI Identifier:
911640
Report Number(s):
INL/EXT-06-01351
TRN: US200801%%97
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC07-99ID-13727
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
01 - COAL, LIGNITE, AND PEAT, 20 - FOSSIL-FUELED POWER PLANTS, 54 - ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES, 59 - BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; CALCIUM; CARBON; CARBON DIOXIDE; CATALYSTS; COAL; CYANOBACTERIA; FLOORS; MICROCOSMS; PHYSIOLOGY; POWER GENERATION; PRECIPITATION; REMOVAL; STRAINS; TESTING; cyanobacteria; Whitings

Citation Formats

Brady D. Lee, William A. Apel, and Michelle R. Walton. Whitings as a Potential Mechanism for Controlling Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations – Final Project Report. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2172/911640.
Brady D. Lee, William A. Apel, & Michelle R. Walton. Whitings as a Potential Mechanism for Controlling Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations – Final Project Report. United States. doi:10.2172/911640.
Brady D. Lee, William A. Apel, and Michelle R. Walton. Wed . "Whitings as a Potential Mechanism for Controlling Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations – Final Project Report". United States. doi:10.2172/911640. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/911640.
@article{osti_911640,
title = {Whitings as a Potential Mechanism for Controlling Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations – Final Project Report},
author = {Brady D. Lee and William A. Apel and Michelle R. Walton},
abstractNote = {Species of cyanobacteria in the genera Synechococcus and Synechocystis are known to be the catalysts of a phenomenon called "whitings", which is the formation and precipitation of fine-grained CaCO3 particles. Whitings occur when the cyanobacteria fix atmospheric CO2 through the formation of CaCO3 on their cell surfaces which leads to precipitation to the ocean floor and subsequent entombment in mud. Whitings represent one potential mechanism for CO2 sequestration. Research was performed to determine the ability of various strains of Synechocystis and Synechococcus to calcify when grown in microcosms amended with 2.5 mM HCO3- and 3.4 mM Ca2+. Results indicated that while all strains tested have the ability to calcify, only two, Synechococcus species, strains PCC 8806 and PCC 8807, were able to calcify to the extent that CaCO3 was precipitated. Enumeration of the cyanobacterial cultures during testing indicated that cell density did not appear to have an effect on calcification. Factors that had the greatest effect on calcification were CO2 removal and subsequent generation of alkaline pH. As CO2 was removed, growth medium pH increased and soluble Ca2+ was removed from solution. The largest increases in growth medium pH occurred when CO2 levels dropped below 400 ppmv. Precipitation of CaCO3 catalyzed by the growth and physiology of cyanobacteria in the Genus Synechococcus represents a potential mechanism for sequestration of atmospheric CO2 produced during the burning of coal for power generation. Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 8806 and Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 8807 were tested in microcosm experiments for their ability to calcify when exposed to a fixed calcium concentration of 3.4 mM and dissolved inorganic carbon concentrations of 0.5, 1.25 and 2.5 mM. Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 8806 removed calcium continuously over the duration of the experiment producing approximately 18.6 mg of solid-phase calcium. Calcium removal occurred over a two-day time period when Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 8807 was tested and only 8.9 mg of solid phase calcium was produced. The ability of the cyanobacteria to create an alkaline growth environment appeared to be the primary factor responsible for CaCO3 precipitation in these experiments. These research results demonstrate the potential of using cyanobacterial catalyzed “whitings” as a method to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.},
doi = {10.2172/911640},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Wed Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}

Technical Report:

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  • The purpose of the teleconference was to increase knowledge among scientists and students of the observed increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide in recent decades, and especially to stimulate young scientists to undertake research on carbon dioxide-related problems. This purpose was achieved partly through the teleconference itself, involving approximately 3000 participants at 58 remote sites throughout North American who were able to ask questions and make comments directly to the invited panelists in Washington, DC. The purpose was also achieved through the production of a 60-minute edited videotape of teleconference highlights. The videotape has been used as the basis of meetingsmore » of students and scientists, and has become part of university libraries for subsequent use in classes. The nature of the carbon dioxide problem is such that significant effects on many aspects of the natural environment and human endeavors are possible within the next few decades. The research required spans many scientific disciplines and requires cooperation and understanding among scientists. The teleconference and videotape, using Sigma Xi's cross-disciplinary structure, extended knowledge and should stimulate research related to the CO/sub 2/ problem.« less
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  • A description is given of a program of research dealing with the effect of increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO/sub 2/) in the ambient environment on forests that are managed to produce specific goods and services. Experimental studies in growth chambers, greenhouses, and field chambers are needed to determine the physiological responses of seedlings and young trees to variable CO/sub 2/ levels, and a modeling approach is required to integrate all the factors which may affect the response of entire forest stands to elevated CO/sub 2/ levels. It is strongly recommended that the proposed research be limited to a fewmore » intensively managed communities (e.g., Douglas-fir in the Pacific Northwest, loblolly pine in the Southeast, poplar or other managed hardwoods in the Lake States, eucalyptus and/or teak in the tropics, and Norway spruce and/or beech in Europe). The strength of the CO/sub 2/ cycle models will be considerably diluted unless an attempt is made to concentrate efforts and resources on a few key managed forest systems.« less
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  • Knowledge can be gained about the fluxes and storage of carbon in natural systems and their relation to climate by detecting temporal and spatial patterns in atmospheric CO{sub 2}. When patterns in its {sup 13}C/{sup 12}C isotopic ratio are included in the analysis, there is also a basis for distinguishing organic and inorganic processes. The authors systematically measured the concentration and {sup 13}C/{sup 12}C ratio of atmospheric CO{sub 2} to produce time series data essential to reveal these temporal and spatial patterns. To pursue the significance of these patterns further, the result also involved measurements of inorganic carbon in seamore » water and of CO{sub 2} in air near growing land plants. The study was coordinated with a study of the same title concurrently funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The study called for continued atmospheric measurements at an array of ten stations from the Arctic Basin to the South Pole. Air was collected in flasks brought back to the laboratory for analysis, except at Mauna Loa. Observatory, Hawaii, where continuous measurements were also carried out.« less