An industrial plant is on track to sucking carbon dioxide straight out of the air

We had earlier on posted on why we cannot remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. The main point of argument was that some gasses reflected back sun rays before they reach the earth hence keeping the globe relatively cool. Those gasses were not inclusive of carbon dioxide, meaning we can remove it without having to worry about increased temperatures. Carbon dioxide removal would actually result in reduced global warming

An industrial plant in Squamish, British Colombia has been conducting a pilot project on the viability of directly removing carbon dioxide from the air and is recording significant progress. The plant has can capture one ton of carbon dioxide daily. This amount would not be sufficient to lower carbon dioxide levels globally. To do this is would require more and larger facilities, each with the ability of suck millions of tons of carbon per year.

The good news is that if this pilot project is successful, it will most probably receive funding that would enable it set up more plants. Just last month, the company closed on $6.2 million from investors including Bill Gates and Murray Edwards. It is also a finalist for Richard Brandon’s Virgin Earth Challenge. A $25-million prize awarded to an economically viable technology that can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas levels.

David Keith, A Havard University physicist and the engineer of Calgary-based Carbon hopes that they start winning over skeptics. He notes that most people in the energy space think that air capture is not particularly credible. He emphasizes that there won’t be incentive and funding in a serious manner unless people believe they can work.

Just in case you are wondering how the plant works, it sucks carbon from the air and directs it into a refashioned cooling tower that is flowing with an alkali solution. The two reacts resulting in dissolved carbon molecules that are then converted to pellets in equipment used to extract minerals in water treatment plants. The plant can later on, turn those carbonate solid into pure carbon dioxide gas for sale by reheating them in a modified cement kiln.

The plant has a business angle, which is turning captured carbon dioxide into a low-carbon transportation fuel. This will be achieved by reacting carbon dioxide with hydrogen, carbon engineering plant to synthesize a fuel less than one-third the carbon content of conventional gasoline. The estimated cost of this fuel would be around $4 to $6 per gallon, but it might fetch a premium in places such as the European Union and California where fuel suppliers are required to reduce their carbon content annually.

Featured image credit: MIT


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