A cure for global warming--diamond bricks?

I worked in the semiconductor industry from 2002-2004. As you know, there are many different substrates on which to build chips: silicon, gallium arsenide, and many others. One wave of the future is diamond as substrate. The technology already exists to precipitate carbon vapor and slowly build up a substrate of pure diamond. Right now it’s prohibitively expensive for commercial use, but it’s only a matter of time.


How about doing the same thing on a larger scale to make building materials? Diamond windows, diamond bricks, and so on. Can you imagine large skyscrapers faced entirely in diamond plates?

The method of creation would be to take CO[sub]2[/sub] from the atmosphere and convert it. Here is a guy who wants to convert CO[sub]2[/sub] into industrial diamonds. Same idea:


Diamond bricks? The technology would have to include a way to dull the surface of such or we’d all be blinded on a sunny day.

Without even knowing much about the process, I’m highly skeptical that this could ever be effective as a means of reducing carbon emissions. First of all, it’s not always “a matter of time.” The fact that it’s not commercially viable now for things like building materials suggests that, without some huge as of yet undiscovered breakthrough that makes it more cost effective than, well, making bricks (which is extremely cheap), it’s not going to fly on a large scale.

Likewise, the process seems to require a lot of energy to make happen (microwaves to create plasma?). Where does this energy come from? And how can we come out ahead on carbon emissions if we have to use so much energy to capture so little carbon per go?

I’ve invented this new technology called “paint” that can be applied to really shiny stuff to make it less really shiny. :smiley:

Also, there’s no way an industrial process like that is gonna capture the 27 billion tons of carbon we pump into the air every year. How much energy would that take? How would we distribute and use the bricks? The Empire State Building supposedly weighs 365,000 tons, so you’d have 74 thousand Empire State Buildings worth of bricks every year.

I’m not a construction expert, but my instinct is that diamond is too brittle to be a good construction material. Even if it were really cheap to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and process the carbon into diamonds.

But here’s an idea I expressed in another thread: Grow plants which take CO2 ot of the atmosphere, then grind the plants up into sludge, then bury the sludge under some remote desert.

(This, of course, assumes that CO2 is the big problem it’s being made out to be.)

A fair assumption since the vast majority of climate scientists from every country and major organization agree that it is.

I was actually thinking about this a while ago. For this to work we need three things:
[li]A process that produces less carbon than is sucked out (which we currently don’t have)[/li][li]A way to economically scale it up to a usable level[/li][li]What to do with all the diamonds.[/li][/ol]

1 and 2 are mostly engineering problems (which does not make them solvable). If we were able to generate massive amounts of surplus energy, carbon free, then this type of sequestering makes sense. I believe it is about the most dense form of carbon we have, and it is also one of the most stable. It would be a lot easier to store diamonds underground than CO2. Thermodynamics and physics mean it would not work to convert emissions directly from a power plant burning fossil fuels, but after we shut them all down ([channeling Conan O’Brian]in the year 2000!![/CCOB] it may be an option for pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere.

As for what to do with it, that depends on what form it takes. The cheapest way to produce diamonds makes dust. That market is probably already saturated, but we could just bury it if we are trying to lower CO2 levels. If the dust is regular enough and smooth we could use it as artificial sand. Semiconductor usage depends on purity and crystal integrity. It couldn’t be used to replace steel supports but it could be used to replace glass and ceramic brick.

ETA: This will probably ruin the market for gemstones, but that wouldn’t bother me at all.


You have to scuff something to make paint stick to it. At best, it would be expensive and time-consuming to scuff that much diamond. Hardest known mineral and all.

Do you? I’m not a painter, mind you, but I’ve seen paint dribbled on glass. I can scrape it off, but it seems like it would stay there for years without flaking off on its own.

Yeah, you do for good adhesion. A dribble is a lot thicker (maybe 10x or more) than a coat, so you might occasionally get one that decides to stick around, but especially if it’s outside, wind, rain, and sunshine are eventually going to get it. And IANAGeologist but I think diamonds are probably a lot smoother than glass.

Damn, guys…

Just cover it with vinyl siding and be done with it :slight_smile:

Zsa-Zsa wept…

Making CO[sub]2[/sub] into diamond is inevitably going to take more energy than you get out of burning the equivalent amount of coal, so this plan is worse than useless until we can get a good way of getting significant amounts of power without burning coal. And if we had that, we’d be most of the way towards solving the global warming problem even without packing carbon up into diamonds.

Diamonds are only shiny if they are polished. It would depend on the nature of the process how shiny and smooth they would be.

We can; it’s called “nuclear energy”. The fact that so many people are irrational about it doesn’t make the technology nonexistent.

You know you are redneck if you cover your diamonds with vinyl siding…or used beer cans :slight_smile:

I think you’re looking at the wrong use. You make walls out of bricks. Walls are needed for privacy among other things. When you want something people can see out of use you windows.

Imagine diamond windows.

That said wouldn’t diamond bricks be a fire hazard? For example other things carbon based:
Usually the densest coal burns the hottest. Anthracite yo. Aren’t diamonds about as dense as coal can get?

What happens when a diamond building catches on fire?

Am I the only person who thinks that all this talk about wind and solar energy is nice and all, but they’re basically just placeholders until we get fusion reactors to work?

  • FWOOSH ! *, I’d guess.

At least if the initial fire gets hot enough to ignite the diamond. I don’t recall how hot that is.

But then, given diamond’s brittleness you probably wouldn’t want to make a building all diamond ( speaking as a Californian the idea of a building that shatters under flexing instead of bending makes me nervous ). You’d want it to be some sort of composite probably, and that could easily drastically change how it enthusiastically burns.

Not even that, really; wind and solar don’t produce enough to be placeholders.

When was the last time significant progress was made toward fusion? It doesn’t seem like we’re terribly closer than we were 50 years ago. And with less funding, probably.