CS2 A Modest Suggestion

OK I was watching a “Ted Talk” about geoengineering and how cheap and effective it could be to put a load of “sulphate particles” in the upper atmosphere as a coping method (on the assumption we need to cope) if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels (on the assumption we need to stop burning fossil fuels).   Even though I think the “need” is non-existent, that didn’t stop the old brain from taking the idea and “running with it”.

A quick web search shows lots of volcanic injections, and that they inject a lot of Sulphur Dioxide.  (Over time it looks like it ends up as sulphates and related).

Several web pages all talk about putting Sulphur Dioxide into jet fuel to put it at altitude.  That one just seem silly to me.  Sulphur burns.  Just leave the sulphur in the fuel that’s already there and it will turn to the oxide all by itself.  In fact, I’ve suggested several times that we just equip our jets with two loads of fuel.  They already use one set of tanks for take off and another set for cruise, so just put the super low sulphur kerosene presently mandated into the take off and landing tank(s) and put the old sulphur laden fuel back in the other tanks.

That, alone, ought to reduce problems (if there are any)…

But still… I thought… might that not be improved?

Higher And Faster



Original Image

First off, we want this stuff as high in the air as we can get it. Well above the present upper tropospheric / lower stratospheric plane level of 30,000 to 40,000 feet. So we need to bring back supersonic flight. Think “Concord on Steroids”. Mach 2 or so, but Mach 3 would be even better. Plan for flight levels up around, oh, 50,000 to 100,000 feet.

 Russian Tu-144LL SST Flying Laboratory

Russian Tu-144LL SST Flying Laboratory

Original Image

OK, get enough folks signed up for that, you have a LOT of fuel burn way up there. But how to get enough S up that high? Regular old jet fuel is unlikely to be enough….

UPDATE: Adding some pictures

So h/t Jason Calley for the Brilliant Buzzard:

Brilliant Buzzard illistration by John MacNeill

Brilliant Buzzard illistration by John MacNeill

From: http://www.openminds.tv/unacknowledged-aviation-brilliant-buzzard/

How About A Funny Fuel?

So that got me thinking about adding more S to a carbon base fuel. There are lots of ways to do that. So if the fuel needs to be thicker and heavier, well, we can populate a carbon backbone with many Sulphur bonds.

But is there a simpler way?

The “limit case” would be Carbon Disulphide. SCS as it were. It’s a liquid. It burns very very well. (Maybe a bit too well. While Jet Fuel is about a 200 C autoignition point, CS2 lights up at 90 C so might need to be ‘diluted’ a bit). It is a non-polar solvent, so ought to readily mix with other jet fuels, if needed.

Per the wiki, there is a way to make it ‘non-flammable’ in storage, if needed.


Johnson Matthey’s sister company Alfa Aesar was the first company to introduce carbon disulfide in the form of pressurized bottle containing a solution of pressurized nitrogen, coupling agent, stabilizer, and carbon disulfide, with an active carbon disulfide content of 85%. Dilution with nitrogen rendered contents nonflammable.

So if need be, we can use something like that to reduce hazards in storage / crashing.

Clearly there is a need for a load of R&D on engines to make sure we can use the stuff without things like excess blade erosion, or what concentrations or what fuel additives are needed to prevent such. Given that fuels are already erosive and corrosive, I have to think this is a solvable question.

So that’s my “bright idea”, given freely to the world. (If anyone uses it, a footnote would be appreciated… I’ve always wanted to be a ‘footnote in the history’ of something or other… ;-)

Make a plane folks would love to fly in, super fast and super high. Have it be “saving the world” so there’s no guilt to enjoying the flight. And maybe even get some of that Green Subsidy Money so it’s cheap enough folk will love traveling all over the place. Along the way, put a nice SO2 (becoming sulphate) blanket on the world…

As the blanket develops, the quantity of CS2 being used in the fuel blend can be adjusted as desired, including down to zero after folks realize that making the place colder wasn’t needed after all… Yes, I like planning for all contingencies.

Heck, maybe we could even coax Burt Rutan out of semi-retirement to make it look really cool ;-) Or make it an option on the first stage of his Starships… “Go to space and save the planet” has a nice ring to it ;-)

I’ve not “done the math” to figure out if there is enough readily available sulphur in the world to get enough in the air to do much. I’m pretty sure there is (there’s a lot of sulphur. So much is removed from other fuels that we don’t mine it much any more, so I think there’s quite a bit around). It is one of the more common elements.

I’m sure eventually someone will point out that SO2 is rough to breath. I think as long as flights do not go along one behind the other that ought to be OK. There’s a lot of mixing at mach 3 ;-) As take off and landing would be done on straight Jet hydrocarbons, I think it would be manageable. It might also be possible to find other materials to inject into the post burn exhaust to take the SO2 more directly to a desired particulate. Perhaps a “sodium afterburner” ;-)

Besides, I think the “way fast” aircraft just look “way cool” too and would like to see them making a comeback, even if they do need a bit of PC wool on them ;-)

Mach 3 XB-70 at takeoff

Mach 3 XB-70 at takeoff

Original North American XB-70A Valkyrie Image


After takeoff, the wing tips are ‘drooped’:

XB-70 in flight

XB-70 in flight

Surely we can do it. To save the planet… Think of the children!!! If it saves just one life…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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21 Responses to CS2 A Modest Suggestion

  1. BobN says:

    @EM – Boeing has their new Bat wing protos out that are bigger the the air bus. They look like a B2 Bomber with 3 engines in the back. It seats about 8 rows across.

    Don’t know if you noticed, but NASA changed the temperature data base again. The lowered the numbers for 1963 and below. That seems crazy to me, old numbers are old numbers. It sure will work nice though to show a steeper rise in temperatures. With charts and Proof like that we are going to have to learn to live with Global Warming.

    Don’t know how it would work out with the Chemistry, but wouldn’t the Sulphur tend to turn into Acid some where along the line.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    The dry oxides are technically not acids (no H+ ion) but yeah, you get ‘reactive species’. I’m presuming that metals that already stand up to some amount of sulphur and nitrogen oxides will stand up to a bit more… or we can add a neutralizing injection that also acts as fuel…

    I’ve saved a few copies of ‘the old data’ so we can keep on showing folks how much it’s changed. Eventually it is just ludicrous and they become a laughing stock. We’re close to that point already. Major strategic blunder on their part. Folks “get it” really easily that the “history” is not supposed to be re-written….

    Not heard of the ‘bat wing’. Got a model designation or link?

    Eventually we’re going to need new airports… or maybe you can just walk on the rear entry in SFO and deboard through the front in LAX ;-0 (If its long enough, who needs to leave the ground ;-) Though they might need to put a little tram down the middle…

  3. Ian W says:


    Boeing call it the ‘blended wing’ design see here:


    If you thought you didn’t like the middle seat before this will give you that on steroids ;-) Perhaps they will do what Richard Branson once suggested and add external cameras in the nose, tail and each side that feed the back-of-the-seat displays so that passengers can ‘look out of the window’ electronically.

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    carbon disulphide has a flash point of -30 ℃. Your figure of 90 ℃ is the auto-ignition temperature. Apart from being highly flammable, it is irritating to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Kidney attack is a problem too.
    It also has a very wide level of explosive range (not good).

    You might derive some enjoyment from one branch of the greens demanding its use to “save the planet” while another section calls for it to be banned to “save the planet” but I think you should leave it up to volcanos. After all they are “nature’s way” of getting it into the stratosphere.

  5. Tim Clark says:

    Graeme No.3 says……………

    That’s immediately what I thought. Puts the greenies in a pickle. If CO2 is the problem this will help…No wait, that will hurt the ozone, no wait, we can’t burn dirty hydrocarbons, no wait, it’s warming and we’re all gonna fry, no wait……..

  6. R. de Haan says:

    Sorry to find out that after Matt Rudly made his debute on TED with his excellent presentations like how idea’s have sex http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html and how the shale gas shock will make our day, this medium now has been infested by eco lunatics.
    Watching presentions that lack any basic scientific justification but “saving the polar bears” is a complete waste of time if you ask me.

    Love the aviation bit though.

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    Apart from the fact that this guy speaks based on a NON EXISTENT PROBLEM, really developing a FALLACY hosted by TED (Turner?)he has NEVER been IN a cloud of SO2 as I did, it weighs more than air so when it enters into the lungs it is hard to remove it.
    Anyway, this is crazy and the US is screwed up with these silly rantings. As a late wise american told me long time ago: “My grandmother would have gave him a good doses of CASTOR OIL”, which could have freed him of such philosophical worries, ASAP…

  8. Jason Calley says:

    Just as a comment re carbon disulphide — I don’t know if it is still in use for this purpose, but it makes a great insecticide and fumigant. You can use the fumes to kill off bugs in a silo or bin of grain without ruining the grain; the vapors dissipate so quickly once the grain is removed that it is non-toxic to consume. It is one of the few fumigants that will (sadly) kill off a hive of bees without poisoning the honey. Maybe a good thing to know if you have a swarm inside your walls.

    As for the XB70, gosh… I have had an admiration for that plane since it was still being designed. Are you familiar with the so-called “Brilliant Buzzard”? https://www.google.com/search?q=brilliant+buzzard&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a Rumors are that the US black ops programs include a sort of XB70 on steroids used as a mothership for orbital launches. Now THAT could put some sulphides in the upper atmosphere!

  9. adolfogiurfa says:

    Carbon disulphide it is used as a raw material for Xanthates applied in minerals flotation.

  10. Pascvaks says:

    A strange sensation came upon me and I saw a vision, (by the way SarcOn) in my vision I saw many resupply ships at the ISS delivering supplies and new instruments and I saw them return to Earth empty except for the occassional crew member rotating back after being relieved by another who had recently joined the crew. The resupply ships were empty. That seemed strange. Later I saw the ISS from a distance, and as I watched objects were ejected and slowly decended toward the Earth and burned up in the atmosphere. And later, thin wisps of yellow ribbons appeared and disappeared into the atmosphere. Over time, the atmosphere was full of tiny yellow mists. Later I heard a voice in Russian (my Russian is non-existant so bear with me while I make this up), the voice seemed to come from within the ISS, it said: “Let the be life!” followed by a long, soft “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”, this was followed soon after by the same type of noise you hear when a steam vent is opened and then closed. (SarcOff;-)

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ian W:

    Ah, that one. Yes, I’d seen an image of it some years ago. Didn’t know it was still “in the works” or had gotten past the idea stage..

    @Tim Clark:

    I think of it as a Knight Fork attack ;-)

    @R. de Haan:

    I think TED Talks are open to all comers with a ‘bent’ idea that makes you question things…

    So you noticed this was largely a vehicle to let me drool over “what used to be” eh? Makes you wonder what we’ve made and not told anyone about since then…


    As a kid, I used to burn sulfur for fun… (don’t ask…) Getting a whiff of it from time to time can be “awakening”… and it takes a while to get over it…

    But hey, it wasn’t MY idea to put sulphates in the stratosphere; I’m just looking for ways to make it more fun!

    @Jason Calley:

    Didn’t know about those uses. Nice to know.

    Wow, more fun aviation toys! I’ll likely add a couple of those pictures….


    Hmmm… So you saying we can cure Global Warming by sending more chili beans to the Space Station? Hmmm…. ;-)

    At $10,000 / lb to orbit, just sending up sulphur lumps to burn on reentry is probably too expensive. Wonder if there are any sulphur comets…

    @Graeme No.3:

    Sorry, my bad. I’d just said “ignition” not “autoignition”… I’ve added the “auto”. (I’d not said “flash point” at all).

    Yes, highly flammable. That’s why I mentioned there were known methods to store it in a non-flammable form and that we’d likely want to “dilute” it with some amount of Jet Fuel… and that it might be needed to use a heavier variation on ‘carbon with a bunch of sulphur’ in a molecule…

    Volcanoes? So I ought to look into nuclear triggers for volcanoes to “save the planet”? Ok!

    FWIW, one “fun” molecule is this one:


    Just sulphur and nitrogen. Easy additive for getting a LOT of sulfur into a mix… Only problem is that it explodes if you hit it with a hammer…. OTOH, it makes for an explosive that doesn’t leave a lot of clues around as to what it was…

    So I did have SOME standards for what was too dangerous ;-)

    Another interesting one is methyl propyl trisulfide that has three sulphers in a row between the carbon chains. Tastes of onions… ;-) but I couldn’t find ignition data on it…

    Dipropyl Trisulfide has a flash point of about 75 C so both heavier (and ‘oil’ soluble) and much more ignition resistant, while still burning and having a good amount of S in it.

    http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1021251.html (Hit the ‘properties’ dropdown)

    Oh, they make the methyl propyl trisulfide too!


    flash point 87 C. So 4 carbons to 3 sulfurs, less than half as much S / C as in CS2, but likely easier to use as a jet turbine fuel…

    Basically, I wasn’t advocating CS2 as THE answer, but as a limit case example (with suggestions of ways to approach alternatives that were heavier).

    Golly, even the dimethyl trisulfide:


    Flash point 51 C. low melting point and high boiling point. Nice…
    Though your airplane might end up smelling a bit of onions ;-)

    Onions…. chili beans… Hmmm…..

  12. R. de Haan says:

    @ E. M, “I think TED Talks are open to all comers with a ‘bent’ idea that makes you question things…

    So you noticed this was largely a vehicle to let me drool over “what used to be” eh? Makes you wonder what we’ve made and not told anyone about since then…”

    To be honest with you I am more worried of what we’re not going to make because of state suppression of technologies that won’t fit the “agenda” and the BS we currently do make that only contributes to driving our economies into the ground. http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=83186

  13. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “At $10,000 / lb to orbit, just sending up sulphur lumps to burn on reentry is probably too expensive.”

    You know, your problem is that you are too rational… :) You don’t realize that launching sulphur lumps into space is perfect. Each launch will put more CO2 into the atmosphere which means that we have to launch MORE sulphur to counteract it — which adds MORE CO2, which means we have to launch MORE sulphur, which — and so on. It is the perfect self-perpetuating governmental boon-doggle!

  14. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Jason: Just fuse two oxygen and you´ll get one one sulphur, then make it react again at a lower energy and you´ll get SO2, just using the HAARP. MIcrowaves buddy!

  15. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. Check this one, please!:

    and take care…

  16. Pascvaks says:

    Re: The Xorbitant Xspense of Sulphur –
    I’ll bet it would fly under The Endangered Species Act – I understand there’s no limit to what they’ll do. Problem Solved!

  17. pouncer says:

    You said you hadn’t “done the math” in a tone indicating you were regretful or apologetic on the matter. Do recall the context: Climate Change. We don’t “do the math” –or at least, don’t do it correctly — in this venue.

  18. Jason Calley says:

    @ adolfogiurfa “Just fuse two oxygen and you´ll get one one sulphur”

    One of the subjects on my long list of things to study someday is the subject of anomalous transmutations. I keep running across small articles of researchers claiming to measure transmutation accomplished with relatively simple (basically arc welders discharging inside small quartz containers) apparatus. Then there are those weird stories of biological transmutation. Chickens who are put on low calcium diets but still manage to come up with more calcium apparently created from excess potassium. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_transmutation

    Not sure what to make of those. I have always taken the alchemical stories of transmutation of lead into gold as allegories, but now I wonder.

  19. Gary Turner says:

    @ Ian W says:
    27 September 2012 at 10:18 am
    Fantastic! I’ve wondered for a long time (since the eighties, anyway) why planes weren’t designed with lifting bodies. Step wings* too for that matter.

    * No stall at attack angles approaching 45°. Seems like a good thing to me.

  20. Gary Turner says:

    Bracklefratz! It seems the “Boeing 797” is a figment of someone’s imagination.
    See http://www.snopes.com/photos/airplane/boeing797.asp

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