Canadian breakthrough on scrubbing CO2 from the air | Carbon & Sustainability

Maybe we can afford to suck CO2 out of the sky after all

Maybe we can afford to suck CO2 out of the sky after all

"Although direct air capture cost of around $100 per ton is still somewhat steep, in our current situation where sticks and carrots for similar technologies are sorely lacking, the cost can only be brought down through further development and streamlining of individual technologies and conjugated processes", Edda Sif Aradóttir, who has worked on a project in Iceland that turns captured carbon into rock, told BBC News.

The costs of Carbon dioxide removal up until now were somewhere at around $600 per ton.

"I hope it's a real change in the community's view of the technology", Keith says. Scientists in a new study found a way to keep costs down and achieve the same goals in the future.

The Carbon Engineering team's approach differs from their few competitors in the field. His process, though, could provide the means to adapt to climate change for activities that are hard to do without producing Carbon dioxide emissions, such as jet travel and producing concrete.

Researchers say they have developed a cost-efficient way to extract carbon dioxide from the air and make fuel from it for cars, trucks, or airplanes.

There are plenty of hurdles to overcome before we can see any benefit from this technology.

The facility uses "contactors", sort of the opposite of a smokestack, to suck in air and expose it to an alkaline liquid that Carbon dioxide naturally wants to combine with.

A previous study carried out by the American Physical Society in 2011suggested that the cost per tonne of direct air capture would be around $600.

David Keith, the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, thinks it can be done for a lot less.

Keith co-founded Carbon Engineering in 2009, when direct air capture was still on the fringes of industrial climate solutions.

In a process similar to a pulp mill, the liquid containing the Carbon dioxide is brought to a factory where the acid is separated from the base and frozen into solid pellets, then heated and converted into a slurry.

In 2011, a pair of influential papers all but sounded the death knell for direct air capture, concluding that the approach would cost almost an order of magnitude more than capturing the greenhouse gas from power-plant stacks. 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. The results: Their technology can capture Carbon dioxide for between $94 and $232 per ton, they report today in Joule.

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.

Oil companies convert hydrocarbon gases into liquid fuels every day, using a set of chemical reactions called the Fischer-Tropsch process. Sequestration of carbon captured from the air would amount to a net reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere, known as negative emissions.

That's more expensive than most fuels today, but not by much. 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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