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September 2015 Bulletin

Who will invent the geo-green cartridge?
By Richard H. Sams, Ph.D.
STGS Spring Field Trip April 25, 2015
I am not an “emotional environmentalist,” but I do believe in leaving this world in a better condition than when I first appeared on it if I can. So in 2010, when I read John Hofmeister’s popular book, “Why We Hate the Oil Business,” the idea struck me that he is right, we simply don’t need to be belching all of this carbon dioxide daily into the air from our automobiles. There must be a way to control this.
On the other hand, fossil fuels have blessed us with undreamed of comfort from such things as heating our homes, plastics, moving goods and services across our entire world, and getting us where we need to be quickly—as in rescues. They will continue to enrich our lives immensely throughout the globe for many years to come. But, let’s face it, science has shown that the product of complete combustion from hydrocarbons is carbon dioxide (CO₂). And more importantly, with the increasing number of automobiles in use today, each exhaust tailpipe becomes a point source of atmospheric pollution. Day after day, a lot of CO₂ is released from that controllable point source; just look at all those tailpipes as you drive in any city. Once carbon dioxide has left the tailpipe of the vehicle, there is no more control of it. At that point is becomes part of our atmosphere. What can we do? We must find a creative solution.
After reading “Why We Hate the Oil Business,” I have spent the next five waning years as an exploration geologist thinking about what could be done; then strangely a notion creatively appeared. It came to me suddenly while I was trying to resolve a water problem at my Comal County home outside of New Braunfels, Texas. The problem required diverting the water from my spring on the property through a black plastic hose, downstream to some point below which a backhoe could clear out and rebuild a small dam in the creek bed in front of my house. With the water diverted, the job only took a few weeks, but to my puzzling amazement, upon examining the black hose as I “rigged down,” I noticed that a layer of brownish travertine almost 1 mm thick had been deposited inside of it! (Figure 1)
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