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DoE Considers Artificial Trees To Remove CO2

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the putting-the-artifice-in-artificial dept.

Earth 418

eldavojohn writes "CNN is running an article on a new angle of attack to reducing greenhouse gases. After meeting with the US Department of Energy on the concept, the researchers revealed the details that each 'tree' (really a small building structure in the concept design) would cost about as much as a Toyota and remove 1 ton of CO2 from the air per day. Don't worry, they're accounting for the energy the 'tree' uses to operate: 'By the time we make liquid C02 we have spent approximately 50 kilojoules [of electricity] per mole of C02. Compare that to the average power plant in the US, which produces one mole of C02 with every 230 kilojoules of electricity. In other words, if we simply plugged our device in to the power grid to satisfy its energy needs, for every roughly 1,000 kilograms [of carbon dioxide] we collected we would re-emit 200, so 800 we can chalk up as having been successful.' Each unit would remove 20 automobiles' worth of CO2 from the air and cost about as much as a Toyota... so the plan might be a five percent surcharge on automobiles to fund these synthetic tree farms."

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More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (4, Insightful)

swaha (101157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438903)

Just like the fact that we legislated use of compact fluorescents with NO plan on disposal,
we have a half thought out plan on liquifying CO2, but nothing on storage and disposal.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (3, Interesting)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438973)

Dry ice stays solid if you drop it down the bottom of as little as few hundred feet (maybe less) under ocean water.

transport it all out to the Marianas Trench and drop it. not going to hypercarbonate the water because it'll stay solid below the right depth [which is reached rapidly if you put them on something that decreases hydrodynamic drag]

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439009)

And if you're wrong, well-- the fish will have fizzy drinks for a change.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (4, Informative)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439441)

i'm not wrong, this has been demonstrated. proven. it's simple university physics.

there is a reason why triple points of substances are given at temperature AND pressure.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439063)

Keep it in a bio dome and let the real trees attempt to break it back to Oxygen :D

hair-brained (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439113)

Still dissolves though.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439227)

If CO2 COULD be a solid in the ocean, it WOULD be a solid in the ocean and there would be huge piles of the stuff down there.

A few hundred feet down, the pressure is still less than 10 atmospheres and temp is obviously above 0ÂC (273K). CO2 under those conditions is still very much a gas. It won't stay solid at 0ÂC unless you're above about 5,000 atmospheres. Even at the bottom of Challenger Deep, you're barely 1100 atm.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_dioxide_pressure-temperature_phase_diagram.svg

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439497)

strange then how they demonstrated clearly that if you take DRY ICE [not gaseous CO2] and drop it to the bottom of a few hundred feet of water (in the Mediterranean no less.. this is warm water) it stopped sublimating.

CO2 is water soluble (2, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439655)

Furthermore, the solubility of carbon dioxide in water increases as temperature decreases (for example, as you go down deeper into the ocean) and also increases as pressure increases (for example, as you go down deeper into the ocean) . There's no reason to think that CO2, if injected deep into the ocean, wouldn't dissolve into the water.

I'm not sure what the impact of hypercarbonated deep oceans would be-- it would certainly take decades, and possibly centuries for the dense hyercarbonated water to diffuse upward to the surface, unless there are deep currents-- but I'm not sure why we think that it would be good to do this.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (5, Interesting)

alchemist68 (550641) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439413)

As an experienced scientist, placing any form or CO2 in water is a very bad idea. Eventually it will change states from solid to gas or from solid to dissolved in water, which then is known as carbonic acid. This is exactly how your body deals with CO2, it is dissolved in your salty blood, where it is expelled as a gas from the lungs. Only hemoglobin transports oxygen to the tissues, it does not transport CO2 in any way shape or form. CO2 will influence the affinity oxygen has for hemoglobin, and in the presence of higher concentrations of carbonic acid, hemoglobin more readily releases oxygen to the surrounding tissues. Hemoglobin will also transport CO, carbon monoxide, but the binding is through carbon-metal (iron) back bonding, not through the oxygen. I didn't even mention the unknown effects this would have on marine life.

The only way to curb CO2 in the atmosphere is to stop burning fuel and let natural vegetation grow. This also means letting forests GROW and not clear cutting for land development, wood, and paper.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439531)

They demonstrated that if you take dry ice and drop it under several hundred feet of ocean water it stops sublimating. they also loaded it onto an impactor that would drive it into the mud at the bottom.

I don't disagree with your last sentence there, i was just pointing out something interesting about dry ice.

Political Moderation (-1, Flamebait)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439563)

That post is neither "Flamebait" nor "overrated"

Stop using moderation as "-1 I don't agree with you politically"

If you're incapable of doing that REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE MODERATION LOTTERY. NOW.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (4, Funny)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439639)

Oh sure, until you wake up Megatron. Nice going.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (0, Troll)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438983)

Just remember if you break a CFL to follow these important Steps EPA [epa.gov] .
Glenn Beck has a wonderful joke about it on his show.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439127)

You mean air it out?
Only someone dumb enough to watch glen beck thinks this is an issue. If you have ever eaten caned tuna STFU!

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439275)

Not just "Air it out", Look at the following steps all the way down till:
What to Do if a Mercury Thermometer Breaks
Keep reading and put down the tuna.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439357)

Those are mostly what to do for each different instance. Read the steps, it is air it out and pick up the glass. Then wipe up with a towel. Oh noes teh end of the world.

The same stuff you would do with any broken glass object. The biggest danger from a broken cfl is the glass.

Did you object when businesses switched to long style florescent lights?

The simple fact is that this is just political grandstanding. No one cared until fox news thought they could get some rating by bitching about it.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

jonored (862908) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439643)

The point that the total amount of mercury in a CFL (~5micrograms) is a little lower than the amount of mercury in five ounces of average tuna, and you're supposed to /eat/ the tuna, and won't exactly be licking the traces of mercury out from the broken shards of the bulb. The level of exposure that you get from the CFL being worriesome probably precludes all seafood of any sort...

It's also a volume of mercury several orders of magnitude smaller than that in a mercury thermometer, which is much more of a concern.

Mercurial Fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439311)

The EPA owe me a new keyboard!!! It reminds me of using mercury at school. I recall we weren't quite as carefull as that. We used to push the stuff around with our fingers!!

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439383)

So why the outrage now? How long have we been using fluorescent bulbs in office buildings. What about the mercury in those? Or are you just arguing against CFLs for the sake of arguing?

I thought so.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (2, Interesting)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438993)

as long as the gas is pure, it can be used for carbonating drinks.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439139)

Isn't it just a matter of time until it's back out into the air. I'm not sure about the body's absorption of CO2 in the digestion tract but isn't most of it, uh, belched right back out one way or another?

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

ndavis (1499237) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439347)

as long as the gas is pure, it can be used for carbonating drinks.

Sounds good so we get carbon out of the air then put it in a drink that releases it back into the air. It seems to me like we are just picking up the cost or supplying carbon to drink manufacturers.

I still think we should just plant bamboo as it grows quickly then we can harvest it like the do in China. This seems like a better plan then building a bunch of towers.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439363)

which then re-emit it. using it to carbonate drinks isn't sequestering it.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (4, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439527)

Two objections:

1. The CO2 would be released into the air again
2. I really doubt that if this plan is implemented on a massive scale(which is the only way it would be remotely useful) there would be enough demand from the carb-soda industry for the product

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439793)

Your first objection is invalid, since they're already "producing" CO2 for carbonated drinks. Any demand for CO2 could be satisfied by this production mechanism, so it would remove any need to produce it. That's a win no matter how you slice it.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439103)

Return them to HomeDepot. There your problem is solved.

We have had places that take waste like cfls and half used paint for ages.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439119)

Umm, injecting CO2 into oil wells to enhance recovery has been used for some time, limited primarily by supplies of CO2. Injection into empty gas wells is doable as well, and somewhat more exotic approaches(like bubbling the stuff through algae farms) aren't too far outside the realm of the currently possible.

As for CFLs, Recyclers aren't too hard to find [epa.gov] . (More generally, mercury containing florescent lamps(mostly the conventional long-tube type) have been used in commercial and industrial applications for decades; because they are cheap and last a long time. Somehow, nobody worried at all about that, until they became associated with the evil environmental movement, at which point their mercury content became a talking point. Funny how that works...)

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439593)

More generally, mercury containing florescent lamps(mostly the conventional long-tube type) have been used in commercial and industrial applications for decades; because they are cheap and last a long time. Somehow, nobody worried at all about that, until they became associated with the evil environmental movement, at which point their mercury content became a talking point.

No, more like because in the commercial and industrial areas, people were far more aware of the bulbs, and the dangers they presented, and were more prepared for any potential problems.

Many people (myself included) did not know that the CFLs had mercury content until after they had been pushed on everyone for months. I don't know about you, but I'm not interested in bringing fragile, mercury containing objects into my home where mercury-containing particulates can get into my lungs. As soon as I found out, I removed all of the bulbs I had bought and gave them to someone who wanted them.

If you want to use them, that's fine. Go for it. Totally up to you. I, like many people, just want to have a choice and I am getting sick of being branded as some "earth murderer" because I'm not interested in having little mercury bombs all over the place.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (2, Insightful)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439715)

the amount of mercury in a CFL is less than the amuont of mercury you get when you eat tuna.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (0)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439665)

Nobody worried about it because the large businesses were presumed to have large enough volume of tubes to make a trip to the recycle plant or a call for pickup worthwhile. They were still required to dispose of them properly.

The difference now is that that individual homeowners are buying them, and the recycling options aren't anywhere near as convenient as they ought to be.

My home, for instance, burns about one CFL every six months. There is only one recycling center in my home state that accepts them, and even then, they're geared for industrial uses: they only collect them on certain days, and even then by appointment (according to the website...). I managed to catch them when dropping of my computer monitor, though, and my collection of two years of dead CFLs (a small box of about five of 'em) was laughed at. They still took them, though.

Regardless, If I don't want to keep years worth of potentially leaky mercury tubes in my basement (I don't know why they failed. It could just be a faulty ballast, I hope..), I'd pretty much have to drive 25 miles every six months to drop off ONE bulb.

Ironically, if they failed more often, they'd probably be easier to dispose of correctly.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (2, Informative)

moonbender (547943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439691)

Umm, injecting CO2 into oil wells to enhance recovery has been used for some time, limited primarily by supplies of CO2. Injection into empty gas wells is doable as well, and somewhat more exotic approaches(like bubbling the stuff through algae farms) aren't too far outside the realm of the currently possible.

You're making it sound awfully easy. There are a number of approaches, but AFAIK the tech is not there yet for long-term storage of huge amounts of CO2. There was a huge hoopla about a law passed in Germany about carbon sequestration for coal power plants; companies are experimenting with the technology, but they aren't willing to guarantee the stuff actually stays "down" for more than a couple of decades. After that, it's the governments problem. So, yes, my first reaction to TFA was that it didn't even mention what the hell they were planning to do with all the liquid CO2 they're recovering from the atmosphere.

Ob. Ghostbusters ref (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439243)

- And where do you put this CO2 once you catch it?
- In a storage facility.
- And would this storage facility be located on these premises?
- Yes, it would.
- And may I see this storage facility?
- No, you may not.

Why do we need a plan on disposal? (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439291)

Compact fluorescents contain mercury, which is really fun to play with. No problem.

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439301)

Sure, lets just tack on 5% of 20-40K for a car to do in essence nothing

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439361)

but nothing on storage and disposal.

Personally, I'd like to see them make it back into fuel. Close the cycle. I don't know how mature the technology is, but there was a news item about a catalyst which could convert CO2 into C1, C2, or C3.

Why not real trees? (5, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439507)

It would make a lot more sense to use real trees. They don't "cost as much as a Toyota," they grow by themselves from seeds, and are self-replicating. They don't extract carbon dioxide in the form of stuff that has to be liquified and then sequestered somehow; they extract CO2 and solidify it in the form of cellulose, a material that is naturally solid at room temperature and pressure.

Obviously, if the trees are then allowed to rot, the CO2 returns to the atmosphere, but that is an easy problem compared to the problem of sequestering CO2 for a few centuries. Just pile it up in the desert, where it won't rot. Or, heck, bury it and let geological forces compress it for a while, and you make new coal that our successors a few million years later can deal with. Wood is a heck of a lot easier to sequester than carbon dioxide!

In short, I can't think of anything more idiotic than designing "artificial" trees, when nature has been evolving real trees optimized to do exactly this task (removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere)-- and has had a few hundred million year head start.

Re:Why not real trees? (2, Interesting)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439777)

Trees work in places trees work. Trees don't work in many places, such as the urban areas where cars are more likely to be concentrated at.

Trees are not a fire and forget tech, they require a good bit of maintence if you are attempting to use them for a purpose they require water, protection from pests and diseases, and room.

If you check the article, the device is the size of a small trailer, and pulls out a ton of CO2 a day. Compare that with trees packed into the equivalent amount of space (even assuming infinite vertical room) and trees suddenly become a laugh.

Additionally, while trees do actually convert the CO2 into something else, liquid CO2 is actually a in and of itself. [wikipedia.org]

Re:More hair-brained ideas for "Global Warming" (2, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439615)

You're aware CFLs can be recycled at your local Home Depot (as well as a variety of other local establishments) at no cost to you, correct? You just have to google "cfl recycling". Le sigh.

Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28438951)

Now I hope they invent natural trees...

How about 'non synth'? (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438979)

Seriously, what's wrong with non synthetic trees? They cost nothing to build, and are really very low maintenance indeed...

Re:How about 'non synth'? (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439129)

They need water. (Hello California.) They need sunlight. You need a place to put them. They may be mildly sensitive to environmental shock when you're putting them up. They're somewhat low-density. The roots can damage structures in the vicinity. After several decades they die, and if you don't do something with the carbon they sequestered in the wood it'll make its way back to the atmosphere.

Still great, stuff, just not perfect.

You Missed the Most Important Point (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439165)

They need water. (Hello California.) They need sunlight. You need a place to put them. They may be mildly sensitive to environmental shock when you're putting them up. They're somewhat low-density. The roots can damage structures in the vicinity. After several decades they die, and if you don't do something with the carbon they sequestered in the wood it'll make its way back to the atmosphere.

Still great, stuff, just not perfect.

In the article, they talk about "climate control" to the fullest extent. You can't turn non-synth trees "off." They'll keep pulling that CO2. These synth trees (that are equivalent to 1,000 normal trees each) can be shut off. So we pull out so much stuff that it gets a little colder? Oh well, just shut a bank or two down for the next year ... repeat until you hit your human desired equilibrium point. No more "climate change."

Re:You Missed the Most Important Point (1)

stinkfish (675397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439245)

you can turn a tree off, simply cut it down and use the wood. wood is lot more useful to me then liquid CO2.

Re:How about 'non synth'? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439215)

They need water. (Hello California.) They need sunlight. You need a place to put them.

It sounded as though you were about to beak into song then...

I've given you sunshine
I've given you dirt
You've given me nothin'
But heartache and hurt!
I'm beggin' you sweetly
I'm down on my knees.
Oh please-
Grow for me.

Re:How about 'non synth'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439481)

You need a place to put them.

Whereas these artificial trees create their own personal rift in space-time and need none?

Re:How about 'non synth'? (4, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439561)

I don't know where to begin.

Do you know how many species of trees are native to the more arid parts of California? The problem with most of Los Angeles, is exactly what you propose. A decades-long successful but misguided effort to cut down trees in order to save a few dollars in maintenance costs. Dunno about you, but the endless miles sun-bleached concrete and asphalt is hardly a hospitable environment, to say nothing of the problem with everyone needing an airconditioner to get through the summer because no one's thought to actually plant a frigging tree.

Seriously, you have a problem with trees? I'd suggest that if everyone started planting new ones and did so for the next decade, we (and our planet) would be better off.

Re:How about 'non synth'? (3, Interesting)

smoot123 (1027084) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439583)

Grow real trees, cut them down, convert to charcoal (yielding synthetic natural gas in the process), bury the charcoal to create new coal fields.

Charcoal is very stable and won't re-enter the atmosphere for millions of years.

Re:How about 'non synth'? (2, Funny)

somecreepyoldguy (1255320) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439141)

susceptible to disease, they have to grow, people will try to put tree houses in them, they try to kill hobbits - the list goes on and on.

Trees (2, Insightful)

Archibald Buttle (536586) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438987)

Is there something wrong with real trees?

Re:Trees (5, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439057)

Is there something wrong with real trees?

Yeah, it's realy, really, really, really, old technology.

Re:Trees (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439317)

Plus, real trees pose an even bigger disposal problem than people have mentioned these artificial trees would.

Re:Trees (1)

somecreepyoldguy (1255320) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439105)

(they have to grow over many years to remove significant amounts of CO2 like the fake ones)

Real trees release the carbon again when they die. (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439251)

Trees store the carbon in the form of cellulose. When they die, the carbon goes back into the environment.

Re:Real trees release the carbon again when they d (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439485)

and synth trees create liquid CO2 that goes back into the environment in a few hours.

Re:Trees (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439403)

Trees won't grow where there is no water or soil. You could put these things in the middle of a desert, on a glacier or on the top of an office block roof and they'd still be productive, although perhaps more so in the case of the office block due to the liklihood of there being more CO2 around. Managed forests would be the ideal solution for cost effective sinking of CO2, especially if the use that the resultant wood was put to was controlled, but this could still be a useful alternative in places where that isn't a practical proposition.

It still seems like a wacky concept though...

now... (1)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439021)

we just need to tweak it a little, and presto! ecological dry ice generator. Oh the mischief...

Which Toyota? (0, Offtopic)

Waste55 (1003084) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439045)

An echo? Or a Supra?

Numbers come in handy sometimes.

Re:Which Toyota? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439209)

So do cars that so exist?

Re:Which Toyota? (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439307)

They're talking about Priuses which equals about .5 that of a highlander.

On the flip side these tress cost 3.50 Camrys.

For the Europeans this will cost 2.844 Peugots or 922.622 Jaguars.

In India this equals -4.32 Tatas.

Re:Which Toyota? (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439345)

Also please forgive my terrible spelling.

Ok, now.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439071)

..make these "trees" self-replicating, self-repairing, solar powered, self-adapting, etc. and their production as cheap as natural trees. Then I'm impressed.

These things are nothing like a tree (2, Interesting)

s31523 (926314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439101)

C'mon, calling these things trees is ridiculous. They don't transform the "bad" CO2 into "good" O2 and H2O, they simply capture it and store it. Wow. BFD. The claim that these "trees" collect CO2 at about 1000 times faster is crap. Real trees actually transform the CO2. Lame! They should try to genetically modify trees/plants to perform more active photosynthesis in order to make them capable of pulling more CO2 out of the air in a useful manner...

Re:These things are nothing like a tree (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439397)

They don't transform the "bad" CO2 into "good" O2 and H2O, they simply capture it and store it.

Nothing can turn "bad" CO2 into "good" O2 and H2O.

I don't know much about this "artificial tree" FTA, but what I do know is that natural trees also simply capture and store carbon. Yes, they let off O2 and H2O as part of the process, but sequestration occurs with both these artificial trees and with natural trees.

And either way, you still have the problem of long-term storage. Dead trees release their carbon back into the atmosphere... and what's worse from a GW perspective is that a good portion of the C is released as CH4 if the decomposition happens underground or underwater, and CH4 is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 (even if its atmospheric half-life is shorter).

Real trees transform CO2 into organics... BFD. The keys are (1) the rate of sequestration and (2) the duration of sequestration.

I'm not going to get into the specifics of pumping liquid CO2 deep underground, as I'm nowhere near an expert on the subject, and there is tons of material online about it. But I will say, quite emphatically, that we need to examine each and every possibility for reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, or billions will suffer.

Re:These things are nothing like a tree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439651)

we need to examine each and every possibility for reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, or billions will suffer.

Most likely the billions of dollars that will not go to companies lobbying for these possibilities.

The MSG of CO2 reduction (1)

Rog-Mahal (1164607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439107)

The idea made a lot sense when it came to the part about these synthetic trees being more cost effective than retrofitting an old coal fire plant. It's ambitious, and sounds promising. However I do wonder what can be done with the liquid CO2 produced. Also, these aren't nearly as pretty as real trees.

Trees (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439117)

What's wrong with, you know, good old-fashioned genuine trees? I would rather see this money spent on man made forests and jungles. I've seen work on Florida mangroves that used aerial deployment of seedling "bombs." It seemed to work well. It would give me warm fuzzies to hear of a squadron of old planes dive bombing the jungle/forest with seedlings just begging to be fed tons of delicious carbon dioxide.

Unit of cost (3, Funny)

nahgoe (901302) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439143)

Being a cyclist, I have no understanding of the cost of a toyota (or any other car for that matter).

Can someone tell me how many bicycles in a toyota?

Re:Unit of cost (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439271)

It depends on the bicycle and Toyota that are involved, but I think you could rely on it being at least 25-30 smugs worth.

Re:Unit of cost (1)

j-beda (85386) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439327)

Can someone tell me how many bicycles in a toyota?

Which Toyota? Which bicycle?

The Toyota price is probably somewhere between $15000 and $40000, which is about a factor of 3 uncertainty - maybe giving a dollar amount would have been better and then followed that with something like "$xxx is about the cost of the average Toyota sold in the USA".

The bike price could range from $100 to maybe as high as $10000, which is about a factor of 100, so seems a particularly poor choice for a unit of cost.

Re:Unit of cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439541)

How about dollars as a unit of cost?
That always makes it easy for me to understand, at least. :)

Re:Unit of cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439671)

Decent enough bicycle (not a cheapo sub-$100 Wallmart POS, but not some overpriced racing bike for gram counters. Think of a basic 10 speed hybrid or mountain bike.): $300

Price of a new Toyota: $16,000 to $30,000
Price of insurance (yearly): $1250
Price of gas (approximate): $3000
Other maintenance (oil changes, other light maintenance): $200
Total cost of the car (1st year): $20,450 to $34,450.

So that would get you 68 to 114 bicycles in the equivalent cost of car ownership for the first year. Instead of doing maintenance on your bicycle, you could trash it and have a replacement for about every week of the year. But that's the equivalent of paying for the car in full. Usually the cost of a car is spread out over a few years, but at that rate - you may as well be buying an acceptable new bicycle every month. Despite that cost comparison, the car wins if you need to go more than 10 miles in reasonable time or having to deal with shitty weather like rain or snow. But if you're really close to work and shopping and live in a tropical or Mediterranean/California environment (no real winter weather), then the bicycle wins.

So buying a bike is about 1/100 the cost of an average car. And even much less over the long run. (Maintenance can be done cheap.) In comparison to fares, I'd suspect it's even cheaper than public transportation. And if you don't mind doing resto on a solid enough frame found in the trash and rebuilding yourself with other inexpensive/found parts, the onlything cheaper than that type of bicycle is walking.

Uhhhh.. how about.... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439161)

just plant some fucking trees. No need for new technology.

Unintended consequences (1, Informative)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439199)

There was an interesting article on Planet Gore [nationalreview.com] discussing the replacement of chlorofluorocarbons with hydrofluorocarbons [nationalreview.com] and the unintended consequences thereof. Basically the HFCs have less effect on the ozone but are a more potent greenhouse gas. Never a dull moment!

Planet Gore has a lot of good stuff about various green quandries, including a fair number of posts by Chris Horner (author of Red Hot Lies [amazon.com] ).

Re:Unintended consequences (2, Informative)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439575)

This is one reason why countries have been phasing out Hydrofluorocarbons since the mid-1990s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrofluorocarbons#Phase_out [wikipedia.org]

But of course, yesterday's article in the National Review makes it seem like nobody ever thought of this problem before until now. In reality, this problem has been widely discussed.

How about we just (1)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439217)

plant more trees? They cost significantly less than a Toyota, require minimal maintenance, and handle the CO2 storage themselves. Oh, and stop cutting down the ones that are already there.

Replace SI with Toyotas! (2, Funny)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439277)

length = one Toyota from fender to fender
mass = one Toyota
time = um - how long it takes a Toyota to go 1000 Toyotas in distance from a dead stop
electric current = the amount of current from the battery in a Toyota
thermodynamic temperature = ooh - this is a tough one...
amount of substance = one Toyota
luminous intensity = light from both front headlights of a Toyota on maximum brightness

I'm not sure how to do the temperature one, but the rest all seem to work...

Re:Replace SI with Toyotas! (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439391)

Temperature: factional units of a toyota expansion/concration of a toyota at standard room temperature and pressure?

Re:Replace SI with Toyotas! (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439411)

100 degrees = the temperature change of a toyato of water produced when you burn a toyota of wood under it.

Ok, but... (1)

Orleron (835910) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439285)

Yes, but can these trees be hugged?

It is truly amazing... (1, Interesting)

fataugie (89032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439293)

When I read stories like this, I combine swear words in combinations I never thought possible.

So when they build one or two of these "Farms" and find out....whoops, we underestimated their effectiveness and costs...then what?

Disposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439323)

So we have 800kg or C02, what the hell are we going to do with it? All I see in the article is trapping the C02 but plants still do it better because they convert it back to O2. Are they planning on doing that or just sell the liquid C02 off and have other people readmit it into the air?

A question is (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439325)

A question is would you rather walk through a thousand acres of forest or an acre covered with these high-tech porta-cabins?

Re:A question is (1)

swaq (989895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439489)

I'd rather walk through the Hundred Acre Wood, even on a rather blustery day.

What a joke (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439371)

FTFA

"Broecker told CNN the units could stand in the middle of Australia, for example, and their presence wouldn't significantly disrupt the atmospheric distribution."

Except for the minor problem of being fuck all in the middle of Australia - including massive power generation facilities require to run them

I am not sure if it is related, but sometime in the last year I saw some reality/doco TV program that was attempting to produce a proof of concept of such an artificial tree in a fixed time frame. What struck me then was the bad engineering and science that was being put forward as the implementation of this "great idea". It was like a mythbusters pretending to be real research.

in short: (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439375)

we lower the efficiency of burning fossile fuels? You know that sounds like a really good idea to me....

Not a bad idea at all. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439385)

Thing is, although we know that we're jacking up the CO2, it does mean that we are the only ones that can jack up CO2. As a rule, we're going to find that we will need to treat the atmosphere and manage it as much as we do our water and our land.

Dare I say, too, that if you plug the sequestration into a nuclear power plant, there's less CO2...

If only.. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439393)

If only there was something you could just plant in the ground that would grow on it's own, powered only by water and sunlight, that would do the same thing..

Tree Huggers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28439405)

Are at war against the trees. People are stupid. C02 is what trees "breath" to survive. Eliminating C02 will kill off the trees and make the planet uninhabitable. But people will never understand the truth, instead they choose to believe in a totally insane politician who believes in his cause so much that he flies his private jet all around the world spewing C02 everywhere he can.

Idea chasing funding (1, Insightful)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439435)

This guy is just looking for funding for his pet project so he can avoid real work. Read the statement closely:

"...I don't ... want to discuss this in a public forum...I...want...to tailor my proposals to the Department of Energy in a way that makes them more palatable."

Just another harebrained idea chasing government money.

And the carbon math is best appreciated by an auditor from Arthur Anderson: creating CO2 to harvest CO2 for a "net gain"?

stop making fun of the global warming schemes (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439437)

just play the game

for example, i'm going to the DOE and i'm going to get $24 million in feasibility study funding for what i call "artificial carbon dioxide"

what you do is, in power plants and automobiles where carbon dioxide is typically produced, you replace the real carbon dioxide with artificial carbon dioxide. its all automatic and costs zero energy, don't worry about the specifics

then the artificial carbon dioxide takes up the space in the air normally occupied by real carbon dioxide, FORCING it to precipitate out of the atmosphere as harmless dry ice. you could even have it precipitate out into ice cream vending machines, so it even makes kids happy!

see? stop grumbling about these hare brained schemes. its more fun to play along

Which is more efficient? (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439477)

Millions of little smog reducing machines stuck under millions of cars, which have to meet stringent weight/price/space requirements to be practical - or gigantic smokestack scrubbers like algae biofuel this one? [csmonitor.com]

Trying to mop up all the problems from millions of cars is the real problem here.

Instead, let's work on moving to all electric cars. This will centralize the pollution at the power generators and then you can take whatever steps are necessary to minimize it without having to worry about catalytic converters and artificial trees.

I mean really, artificial tree/plants to remove CO2? Come on. There are easier solutions out there. Here's another one: Algae biodiesel. [unh.edu]

If you don't like electric, go diesel. Then use algae farms to press for oil. It's a closed-loop CO2 system. Car burns fuel, CO2 goes into air. Biodiesel farm collects CO2 and sunshine in photosynthesis, makes fuel. Lather rinse repeat. Closed loop to CO2, just like mother nature does in a forest.

I applaud these guys for pitching a solution that works with what we have, but if we really want a solution that speaks to the future we need to ditch what we have and try for better. Mopping up the water from the sink overflowing is a temporary solution - we should be working on turning the sink off.

Re:Which is more efficient? (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439677)

You're right, unfortunately I don't see how we could turn the sink off before the sink runs out of water.

With this artificial tree, burning fossil fuels could mean a net output of zero CO2. This might increase the burning of fossil fuels, which would deplete the world's oil, gas and coal reserves much faster.

As soon as those are empty, we'll start seeing real solutions.

Pair with photobioreactor for free diesel (1)

petgiraffe (539721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439479)

By itself this device only gives you liquid CO2 which you then have to deal with. But hook this to an algae photobioreactor tower and you can have a self-contained pod that generates use able diesel fuel with only sunlight and air as inputs.

Pairing them will let you eliminate the "compress to a liquid" step as well, which should further lower the energy requirement for CO2 reclamation.

Algae Need This (2, Interesting)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439509)

Algae farms which could produce fuel need large quantities of concentrated CO2 to function. They would be a perfect match with these artificial trees.

My half-brained solution (0, Troll)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439617)

If they start conjuring up half-brained ideas I should be able to do the same.

Plant massive amounts of apple trees in apple orchards. The trees will absorb the CO2 and produce apples. Then force kids at highschools to eat apples instead of unhealthy crap and it will help to reduce the obesity problem!

Sure, this plan is flawed and won't work in practice but it stops EBIL GLOBAL WARMING and that's good enough for me.

Hmmm... (2, Interesting)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439685)

New business plan...
  • Build concentrated solar power plant in the middle of the desert
  • Build a ton of these CO2 collectors driven off the solar power
  • Sell as many carbon credits as possible
  • Sell the remaining electricity into the grid
  • PROFIT!

Could it work? Now where to put all that liquid CO2?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439737)

Sell it to CocaCola?

Don't Forget (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439721)

Costs and pollution during:

Building, shipping, installation, maintenance, removal, replacement.

Payback (1)

Ohmaar (997049) | more than 5 years ago | (#28439747)

How many REAL trees could you plant for the cost of one of these stupid artificial trees? Real trees absorb carbon dioxide using NO electricity, there's no carbon storage problem they produce oxygen and beautify the surroundings to boot! This whole "artificial tree" solution sounds more like some business with a politician in their pocket.
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