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A New Way To Capture CO2 From The Atmosphere

The earth naturally removes atmospheric CO2 through seawater, soil, plants, and even rocks. Engineers and scientists are trying to find a way to accelerate these natural processes, but it won’t be enough.

Fortunately, science has advanced, and now we have the technology that removes CO2 out of the air using a chemical process.

Jeniffer Wilcox, a chemical engineer, calls this process a synthetic forest. 

According to Jennifer in her TED talk, there are two approaches to building such a CO2-hungry installation. In one, we could use CO2-grabbing chemicals dissolved in water. In another, we could use solid materials coated with chemicals that bond CO2.

Wilcox explains that a proposed direct air capture contactor is shaped like a honeycomb panel about 200 meters wide, and relatively thin.

This high-surface-area is filled with the packing material while pumps distribute CO2-grabbing liquid across the packing material. Fans are used to bubble the air through the liquid that separates and binds carbon molecules from the air. 

The result of this process is high-purity CO2 that can be easily liquified for transport, to be used as a fuel or a chemical.

This process requires a great amount of energy, so scientists have also developed a way to use cheap natural gas, while the system captures both the atmospheric CO2 and the CO2 that is generated by burning the natural gas.

Talking about some truly brilliant minds over here.

Watch the full TED talk here.



Nikola uses his background in electrical engineering to break down complex sustainability topics for GreenCitizen's readers. He is a firm believer in environmental conservation, which he practices daily through recycling and home-grown food. He enjoys hiking, engaging in white-water sports, and collecting pocket knives.

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