Like many people today, the race to solve the climate change problem is as challenging as they come.
Klaus Lackner, a professor of Geophysics at Columbia University, is working on an interesting concept to solve this problem: “synthetic trees”.
The idea is to reproduce the process of photosynthesis to capture and store massive amounts of CO2 gas. Nearly 90,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year – roughly the amount emitted annually by 15,000 cars – could be captured by the structure. Paired with a windmill, the carbon-capture tree would generate about 3 megawatts of power, Lackner calculates, making the operation self-sufficient in energy.
It would stand roughly 1,000 feet tall with a footprint a little bigger than a football field, and be crisscrossed with scaffolding holding liquid sodium hydroxide, which is best known as lye. For in addition to cleaning drains, sodium hydroxide has a chemical property that promises to be in great demand if, as seems likely, the nations of the world fall short of stabilising the atmosphere’s load of greenhouse gases: it sucks carbon dioxide out of the air.
Klaus Lackner said;
“The carbon-capture efficiency is better than a [living] tree. We can, with such a system, collect a significant fraction of the carbon from the air.”
Carbon capture from the air has the advantage of removing this pollutant no matter where it came from—cars, planes, factories, power plants. No other carbon-capture technology now on the drawing boards would work on moving sources, such as cars and planes.