Scientists find affordable way to recapture Carbon dioxide and burn it

Scientists find affordable way to recapture Carbon dioxide and burn it

But a Canadian firm called Carbon Engineering is proposing a method of collecting carbon dioxide in the air via a method called "direct air capture", and converting that CO2 into a form of usable power that wouldn't disrupt modern technology that now relies on fossil fuels, like cars. This unit would be one of several that would collectively capture 1M tons of Carbon dioxide per year. This solution is then heated and treated, to kick off chemical reactions making it possible to re-extract this carbon dioxide to be used for making chemicals needed for fuel, or for storage.

"I hope it's a real change in the community's view of the technology", Keith says. But it's key to Carbon Engineering's business: It means the company can produce carbon-neutral hydrocarbons. The U.S.is facing climate and air pollution costs reaching at least $360 billion annually, according to a 2017 report. "We're making something that's never been done before - commercial large-scale air capture - but we're doing it on a basis of technology that already exists".

In one example, Carbon Engineering claim that eventually just one of their proposed plants could remove the CO2 produced by 300,000 cars every single year. "We can keep collecting carbon dioxide with direct air capture, keep adding hydrogen generation and fuel synthesis, and keep reducing emissions through this AIR TO FUELSTM pathway". The last comprehensive analysis of the technology, conducted by the American Physical Society in 2011, estimated that it would cost $600 per tonne.

Carbon Engineering founder and Harvard Professor at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, David Keith, and his colleagues say that they have demonstrated for the first time a scalable and cost-effective solution for removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Carbon Engineering was founded in 2009, and its pilot plant has been running for three years now. After capturing the Carbon dioxide in solution, the plant transfers it into a solid, which when heated releases it in a pure gas stream. It captures one tonne of Carbon dioxide on a daily basis. Their newly completed second facility can capture 50 tons per year, which the company plans to bury in basalt formations deep beneath Earth's surface.

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Making direct air capture as cheap as possible is critical because a growing body of work finds it's going to be almost impossible to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 ˚C without rolling out some form of the technology on a huge scale.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reported in 2016 that electrolysis using wind power could provide hydrogen at a cost of about $4.50 per kilogram. Then, by heating and chemically messing around with the captured carbon, it can be converted into a source of energy that many fuels require.

"It's very tough, and even tougher if the Carbon dioxide is from your most expensive source, which is the air", he says.

"Until you really can confirm the costs and performance at scale, you've always got to take those costs with a grain of salt", he says. However, keeping global warming to less than 2 degrees C (the worldwide target to avoid the most risky impacts) will likely require "negative emissions"-some way of taking lots of Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing it permanently, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)".

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