Or oysters, cockles, whelks or clams. Their shells are made of calcium carbonate – CaCO3 – of which a substantial component is carbon.
The other night I cooked moules marinières, excellently done, though I say so myself … But it was when I was disposing of the shells that I started to ponder what they were made of. I weighed one of those mussel shells, it was four grams. There were probably between 50 and 70 of them, say 50, so the total weight was at least 200 grams. Calcium carbonate contains around 12% carbon by weight, so the residue of my dinner was 24 grams of pure carbon.
That carbon was extracted from seawater when the mussel was growing, and the carbon almost certainly come from carbon dioxide that had dissolved in the seawater. My dinner locked up at least 24 grams of carbon, effectively for ever. So the solution for global carbon capture? Grow mussels, tons and tons of 'em! Eat the contents and stick the shells into land-fill where they will remain for hundreds of millions of years. Carbon dioxide problem solved at a stroke – or rather, a gulp … I always was a bit of a messy eater.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs