Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere may seem like an immense challenge, but even greater obstacles await humanity if it does not actually begin to act to reduce the concentration of the gas in the environment. For this reason, researches carried out all over the world try to bring a solution to this problem: in an article published last week by the journal Nature Communications, scientists suggest that the emergency implementation of CO purifierstwo it would be one of the techniques that would boost the enterprise. However, the action would require financing equivalent to that dedicated to wars by governments and companies.
Through a technology called Direct Air Capture (free translation of Direct Air Capture – DAC), mechanical systems that currently use a liquid or solid solvent capable of separating COtwo other gases, perform the task.
Examples of such devices are those marketed by the Swiss company Climeworks, which already has 15 active machines on the European continent. The operations are powered by renewable geothermal energy or produced by burning waste: a fan sucks the air and passes it through a collector, inside which there is a filter that, in turn, directs the pollutant underground, where it is finally kidnapped.
DAC installations from the Swiss Climeworks.Source: Reproduction
Canadian Carbon Engineering, with giant fans, captures the air and directs it to a tower-like structure, in which a potassium hydroxide solution binds chemically to CO moleculestwo and remove them.
Then, the pollutant is concentrated, purified and cleaned, and can be injected into the soil to extract oil and, in some cases, acting to neutralize emissions generated by the burning of fuels.
Both companies say they are ready to produce their devices on a large scale, and the potential market value of the technology could reach $ 100 billion in 2030, estimates point. Anyway, one doubt prevails: is it really worth it?
Carbon Engineering is also in the running.Source: Reproduction
It is expected that the costs of such devices will be gradually reduced, but, in the molds found today, in addition to being expensive in relation to studied alternatives, they consume a lot of energy. Just to give you an idea, they would be responsible for a quarter of global consumption in 2100. Fortunately, methods under development are expected to decrease these unsightly rates – such as those of Australia’s Southern Green Gas and CSIRO, which are building solar-powered DAC technologies.
The interest of large companies can also bring benefits. Last year, Microsoft included the novelty in its negative carbon plans, and as other institutions follow suit, additional research funding could accelerate the emergence of more effective products, such as those promised by Elon Musk.
One of the great advantages of the air capture technique, experts argue, is that it requires less land and water than others, such as planting forests or storing COtwo in soils or oceans. Job creation is another attractive possibility, given the populations affected by the decline in the use of fossil fuels.
Solar energy is bet by Australian companies.Source: Unsplash
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization linked to the United Nations, makes a warning: last Wednesday (20), the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 415 parts per million (ppm), the highest level of human history, and it continues to grow.
According to the entity, the simple reduction of gas emissions will no longer be enough to avoid dangerous scenarios, such as extreme weather and meteorological events, irreversible damage to biodiversity and ecosystems, extinction of species and threats to health, to the production of food, water availability and economic growth.
It is necessary, he points out, to take charge of the situation before it is too late.