Debunked: Using 13.56Mhz radio waves and HAARP to remove Methane from the Atmosphere

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
This extremely alarming paper
This process of methane release will accelerate exponentially, release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere and lead to the demise of all life on earth before the middle of this century.
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has an interesting proposed use for HAARP.

·The United States and Russia must immediately develop a net of powerful radio beat frequency transmission stations around the Arctic using the critical 13.56 MHZ beat frequency to break down the methane in the stratosphere and troposphere to nanodiamonds and hydrogen (Light 2011a) . Besides the elimination of the high global warming potential methane, the nanodiamonds may form seeds for light reflecting noctilucent clouds in the stratosphere and a light coloured energy reflecting layer when brought down to the Earth by snow and rain (Light 2011a). HAARP transmission systems are able to electronically vibrate the strong ionospheric electric current that feeds down into the polar areas and are thus the least evasive method of directly eliminating the buildup of methane in those critical regions (Light 2011a).
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Is this a plausible thing HAARP can do?
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Senior Member
Is this a plausible thing HAARP can do?
I honestly don't know enought to answer that question but there are several things we can do as a civilization to combat the methane issue our planet will face in the years ahead as we continue to warm. We can use methane hydrates to produce energy and electricity. We can even use excess CO2 to pump into methane deposits to retreive the methane. This is a win/win because we are storing away the greenhouse gas CO2 and trapping it in the pocket where methane was formerly.

Mick West

Staff member
Is this a plausible thing HAARP can do?

No. Utterly not.

Methane does not magically decompose at 13.56 Mhz. 13.56 is an arbitrary frequency reserved for industrial usages, things like induction plasma generators. It's simply chosen so there's a frequency that industry can use that won't interfere with radio communications.
Plasma systems ionize a variety of source gases in a vacuum system by using RF excitations. The frequency of operation of the RF power source is frequently 13.56 MHz, one of the frequencies reserved worldwide for industrial, scientific, and medical uses (ISM). Nevertheless, it can be used at lower frequencies (kilohertz) or higher (microwave).
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The paper he references uses a plasma reactor to heat methane into the plasma state (i.e. free ionized hydrogen and carbon atoms), then this is deposited as carbon. This is all done in a small vessel, with precise mixes of gases (including other inert gases like argon), and uses a lot of energy in a very small, and hot, location.

It's not decomposing because it's vibrating at 13.56. Its decomposing because it's inside a plasma reactor.

And it's not using RF radiation to heat the methane, it's using a very strong electrical field that's oscillating at radio frequency.
Excitation frequencies in the low-frequency (LF) range, usually around 100 kHz, require several hundred volts to sustain the discharge. These large voltages lead to high-energy ion bombardment of surfaces. High-frequency plasmas are often excited at the standard 13.56 MHz frequency widely available for industrial use; at high frequencies, the displacement current from sheath movement and scattering from the sheath assist in ionization, and thus lower voltages are sufficient to achieve higher plasma densities. Thus one can adjust the chemistry and ion bombardment in the deposition by changing the frequency of excitation, or by using a mixture of low- and high-frequency signals in a dual-frequency reactor. Excitation power of tens to hundreds of watts is typical for an electrode with a diameter of 200 to 300 mm.
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It's kind of like saying "let's fry all the methane out of the atmosphere by turning all the microwave ovens inside out." It's nonsense.
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Mick West

Staff member
13.56 Mhz is the frequency that most RFID smart cards work at. Not because it's magic, but again because it's reserved for non-comms type things (it's only operating over very short distances)
Cards may be Type A and Type B, both of which communicate via radio at 13.56 MHz.
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So if this scheme worked, you'd expect all the RFID readers in the subway to be coated with diamond nanodust by now.

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Well though that proposal comes only at the end of the paper and isn't its focus, does it call into question the premise of the paper, that unchecked methane release will lead to an ELE in 50 years?
Because it's such an extreme outcome its hard not to see it as dubious. It's a little hard for me to follow the method of reasoning to see if it's making errors in assumption along the way, but I hope it is.

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Couldn't find any in-depth criticism of the paper, but did find this...

With no evidence of peer-review for Light’s report, I decided to ask members of the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences (where I am currently studying) to comment.

Professor Corinne Le Quéré, Director of the Tyndall Centre, disagrees with Light’s report stating that it uses a “very narrow perspective” of the overall methane picture, adding further that the recent unusual methane activity in the Arctic ice and oceans has “never been measured before.”

“We don’t know whether these spikes are natural or not. In the Arctic there are storms, changes in ice coverage and fluctuations in weather systems so before you can make this kind of extrapolation you have to look in terms of time and space, and consider other sources of methane production also.”

There are six main causes for methane output into the atmosphere: Fossil fuels, wetlands, livestock, biomass burning, rice production and landfill emissions. Corinne was able to show using recent data that 3 out of the 6 main outputs of methane have all shown increases from 2010.

Dr Andrew Manning is lead researcher of the Carbon Related Atmospheric Measurement (CRAM) laboratory at UEA. He had this to say: “Some of AMEG’s claims, and certainly their more extreme claims regarding such things as an ice-free Arctic in a few years, are in strong disagreement with current understanding of ice dynamics experts. Much of the science they give is valid, it is the timescales that they have wrong.”
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