Listen to this article New CO2 Capture Breakthrough For Fighting Climate Change
In the fight against climate change, scientists have developed a new way to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. The method involves transforming the warming gas into bicarbonate of soda and safely storing it in seawater. This promising development in carbon removal technology, which could help fight climate change, is reportedly up to three times more efficient than current techniques, according to the researchers.
Limits of Carbon Removal Tech in Climate Change Fight
While many companies have been working on developing technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, one of the biggest challenges has been cost. Current methods require big machines that use a lot of energy to both absorb and discharge the CO2. This new approach, however, promises far greater efficiency and lower cost, thanks to the use of off-the-shelf resins and other chemicals.
New hybrid material for climate change absorption
The research team borrowed an approach used for applications in water, and “tweaked” existing materials to remove CO2 from the air. In tests, the new hybrid absorbing material was able to take in three times as much CO2 as existing substances. “To my knowledge, there is no absorbing material which even at 100,000 ppm, shows the capacity we get it in direct air capture of 400 ppm,” said lead author Prof Arup SenGupta from Lehigh University in the US. “This simple ability to capture CO2 at a high quantity, in a small volume of material, is a unique aspect of our work.”
Climate change implications and feedback effects
The new method could speed up the deployment of carbon removal technology, experts say. It has been welcomed by others in the field, such as Prof Catherine Peters from Princeton University, who specializes in geological engineering. “I am happy to see this paper in the published literature, it is very exciting, and it stands a good chance of transforming the CO2 capture efforts,” she said. “What is clever about this is that the starting point was a technology previously designed for applications in water. This advance applies this technology to the gas phase – a new idea.”
CO2 transformation for climate change mitigation
One of the big challenges in capturing CO2 is what to do with the trapped gas. One widely used approach for storing CO2 is to store it under the ground or sea in former oil wells. However, the new paper suggests that adding some chemicals can transform the captured CO2 into bicarbonate of soda and allow for simple and safe storage in seawater. Dr. SenGupta says he now wants to establish a spin-off company to develop the technology further.
Direct air capture’s importance for climate change
Some scientists are reluctant to put too much emphasis on new and emerging technologies like direct air capture because they fear that it could dilute the carbon cutting efforts of governments and individuals. However, with the temperature thresholds of the Paris climate agreement under threat from rising emissions, many others feel that the rapid deployment of direct air capture in addition to massive cuts in carbon is the best hope of avoiding dangerous climate change.
Professor SenGupta shares that optimism, believing that this new approach can remove CO2 for less than $100 a tonne. The company Climeworks in Switzerland, which has been developing machines to remove CO2 from the atmosphere over the past decade, is one of the pioneers in the field.