Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

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kettle25
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Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby kettle25 » Tue May 27, 2008 3:53 pm UTC

This may seem somewhat asinine, but here it goes anyway -


Would it be a solution to filter off excess Greenhouse gases (eg:methane and carbon dioxide) into space? My initial idea was to have some kind of giant straw going up through the atmosphere into space, but I realise that there are several problems with this idea (like how to support aforementioned giant straw) but could the general principle be used?
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Robin S
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby Robin S » Tue May 27, 2008 4:09 pm UTC

Gravity keeps the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In order to remove them from the atmosphere and into space, you'll need to do the following:

1. Provide the huge amount of energy required to work against the Earth's gravitational field;
2. Find a way to get that energy to act selectively on greenhouse gases.

In short, this is not a practical solution. Sorry.
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Herman
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby Herman » Tue May 27, 2008 8:31 pm UTC

That's right. More explicitly, if you set up such a giant-straw system, nothing would happen. I think you're thinking that the vacuum of space would suck air up through the straw. But the atmosphere is *already* exposed to space, and it doesn't get sucked away, because gravity keeps it close to the surface. So, yeah, this doesn't work on any level.

vega12
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby vega12 » Tue May 27, 2008 11:59 pm UTC

Also, I believe that would be a terrible waste of carbon. Why not work on ways of using the CO2 and whatnot to accomplish something useful while also decreasing the amount of greenhouse gas?

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Turambar
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby Turambar » Wed May 28, 2008 1:07 am UTC

In 2006, the U.S produced around 6*10^12 kilograms of carbon dioxide. To get this even up into the mesosphere (at 50 km) would require aroudn 3*10^18 joules, or three "exajoules". We're better off planting trees :P
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby sgt york » Wed May 28, 2008 12:47 pm UTC

Robin S wrote:Gravity keeps the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In order to remove them from the atmosphere and into space, you'll need to do the following:

1. Provide the huge amount of energy required to work against the Earth's gravitational field;
2. Find a way to get that energy to act selectively on greenhouse gases.

In short, this is not a practical solution. Sorry.

Don't forget :
3. Produce the energy for (1) without making more greenhouse gases than you are pumping out.

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hideki101
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby hideki101 » Wed May 28, 2008 6:45 pm UTC

pretty sure that there are gases escaping the atmosphere, only that they are the lighter elements like hydrogen and helium. like above , these gases would escape anyway without the help of a straw. Really the only way to siphon off the atmosphere would be to open a wormhole in the lower atmosphere and open the other end somewhere in space.
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Technical Ben
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby Technical Ben » Wed May 28, 2008 7:13 pm UTC

Also, how do you suppose to sort out the carbon and other greenhouse gasses from the others? We do not want to just rid ourselves of an atmosphere...
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Moving gases has some effect though. CFCs are an example of this.
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Baza210
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby Baza210 » Wed May 28, 2008 8:43 pm UTC

Wow, people took this seriously.
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Mettra
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby Mettra » Thu May 29, 2008 1:56 pm UTC

Baza210 wrote:Wow, people took this seriously.


Welcome to the physics forum.
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby Robin S » Thu May 29, 2008 3:44 pm UTC

Baza210 wrote:Wow, people took this seriously.
If someone lacks understanding of something, laughing at them is not a constructive way to go about changing things.
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Re: Solution To Global Warming - Space as a vacuum cleaner

Postby Baza210 » Thu May 29, 2008 8:43 pm UTC

Robin S wrote:
Baza210 wrote:Wow, people took this seriously.
If someone lacks understanding of something, laughing at them is not a constructive way to go about changing things.

An admirable sentiment. However, kettle25 is a classmate of mine, whom I encouraged to join xkcd's forum upon coming up with his interesting straw-into-space theory one particularly useless Chemistry class.
Here I'm allowed everything all of the time


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