This just in from the Why Didn't We Think Of This Before bureau: A Canadian startup company is working on a plan to deploy massive walls of intake fans that would suck carbon dioxide out of the air and turn it into fuel.
Carbon Engineering, based in Calgary, is hoping that its air capture plants will help to reduce CO2 emissions from all sources, but cars and trucks in paticular. Whereas carbon dioxide from power plants can be captured and filtered at the source, to a degree, emissions from motor vehicles and other moving sources are more difficult to trap.
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"Capturing CO2 directly from the air allows emissions originating from any source to be managed with standardized scalable industrial facilities," reads the description on the company's product page. "Our full-scale design, for example, could absorb the emissions created by 300,000 typical cars."
The fans work by pulling air over a carbon-absorbing liquid that turns the CO2 into a salt. That salt can then be stored underground or re-used as a low-carbon synthetic fuel, according to the company.
Carbon Engineering has already constructed a pilot plant in Canada and is preparing to run the system at full capacity this year. After that, the company hopes to build commercial plants in 2017 or 2018 able to produce 10,000 barrels of synthetic fuel a year.
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Direct air capture is not a particularly efficient method for reducing emissions, the company concedes, but the technology is scalable and requires a relatively small footprint.
The air capture plants essentially do the same work as trees and other vegetation, but require about 1/1,000th of the space. The company is hoping that its air scrubbers will be part of a larger, coordinated effort in the clean-tech industry.
"We must do something about the rising levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere," says David Keith, Carbon Engineering president and a professor at Harvard University's School of Engineering, in the company's demo video. "We can and must transition to sustainable sources of low carbon energy."
via Fast Company