While some could associate carbon dioxide pollution principally with industrial plants and big chimneys releasing the gas into the atmosphere, the truth is that emissions from the transport sector represent regarding 24% of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions and have the highest emissions growth of all. They’re also harder to limit and capture. While there are existing technologies for trapping carbon dioxide out of a smoke stack, as an example, there haven’t been solutions for capturing the quantity already free into the atmosphere (by cars, trucks, and planes) — carbon dioxide that’s three hundred times less focused than the type coming out of a smoke stack. That’s til now.
In the beginning of this year, in Squamish, British Columbia, the privately owned (and backed by Bill Gates) company Carbon Engineering began the development of the primary air-capture carbon dioxide demo plant. For years, the corporate has been developing the technology that’s currently able to be enforced on a bigger scale.
Like trees, air-capture technology traps carbon dioxide from the ambient air. However, as the team at Carbon Engineering points out, “planting enough trees in the numbers needed would require diverting vast amounts of agriculturally productive land. In fact, to absorb enough co2 as an air-capture facility, trees would require roughly a thousand times more land.” In contrast to trees, however, air-capture plants is designed on land that can’t be cultivated, like deserts.
David Keith, a professor at Harvard University school of Engineering and also the executive chairman of Carbon Engineering, together with a team of scientists has been doing carbon dioxide capturing at a model Contactor at the University of Calgary for many years already. The model system built at the University will absorb emissions from about 14-15 vehicles or regarding one hundred kilos of carbon dioxide per day.
Simplistically put, the method the system works is this — once the air enters into the facility, it passes through a CO2-absorbent liquid that traps regarding eighty percent of the CO2 into an answer for any processing.
In the complete facility that’s presently being inbuilt Squamish, the carbon dioxide will be recovered from the carbonate solution and integrated into the assembly of liquid hydrocarbons that are absolutely compatible with today’s transport infrastructure, however have a low (or even zero) carbon intensity.
The construction of the demo plant by the end of this year are the last step for CE before building a first-its-a-kind industrial air-capture plant by 2017 aiming to close the carbon dioxide cycle.