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An Update on Engineering Issues Concerning Stratospheric Aerosol Injection for Geoengineering
  • Andrew Lockley,
  • Douglas MacMartin,
  • Hugh Hunt
Andrew Lockley
University College London

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Douglas MacMartin
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Hugh Hunt
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Solar Radiation Management (SRM) geoengineering is a proposed response to anthropogenic global warming (AGW)1. Stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) is one proposed method, reliant on lofting particles into the stratosphere. Engineering reviews related to this technology approach have been sparse, with most major primary analyses now at least five years old. We attempt to bridge this gap – with a short, mainly qualitative review of recent developments in fields of engineering with potential applicability to stratospheric aerosol injection. Our analysis shows that a new conventional aircraft design is still likely to be the most dependable and affordable technology solution, with hybrid airships a potential challenger. Rockets, gas guns and MAGLEV/coilguns show some potential, although they lack the level flight capability preferred for direct aerosol distribution, without substantial additional engineering. Should very high-altitude access be required, rockets, hybrid rockets, and light-gas guns offer the required capability. Costs and performance for tethered balloons remain highly uncertain. No other methods are found to be promising. Nevertheless, the extreme accessibility of disposable balloons suggests that this method may be used primarily for reasons of political leverage, as opposed to being an optimal engineering solution.
01 Aug 2020Published in Environmental Research Communications volume 2 issue 8 on pages 082001. 10.1088/2515-7620/aba944