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First Successful Demonstration of CO2 Capture Technology

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the scrub-that-global-warming-away dept.

Science 521

An anonymous coward writes "Global Research Technologies, LLC (GRT), a technology research and development company, and Klaus Lackner from Columbia University have achieved the successful demonstration of a bold new technology to capture carbon from the air. The "air extraction" prototype has successfully demonstrated that indeed carbon dioxide (CO2) can be captured from the atmosphere. This is GRT's first step toward a commercially viable air capture device."

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521 comments

Requiem for Macintosh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881075)

The artists moved to the Mac in 1984 for the user interface to make their art. They generated applications, hypercard stacks,applescripts, performance spaces like the apple store soho would eventually become, text and picture clippings, art galleries (tekserve).etc., due to their highly developed aesthetics.

these artists-- these creative designers, musicians, scientists, and programmers-- stayed on the Mac during the interregnum when apple was a decaying mess and, respecting the Gestalt manager, built their applications out of dilapidated but beautiful Toolbox code.

The pencil-pushers and accountning brats saw all of this and said, "Hey, that looks cool." "Daddy buy me some of that." But these switcheurs have nothing to contribute except a talent for demanding crap like glossy screens. just what the fuck are you spreadsheet fiddlers doing? nothing beyond fueling the demand for ugly, tragically misdesigned, cookie-cutter applications like Firefox and Azureus. That is why the Mac community has so rapidly gone into its Rococco stage.

The Mac community continues to change and it is becoming very clear that we are loosing our edge-- the subcultures that once thrived on the Mac are all loosing steam to the mainstream. art, music, nightlife, web development. The Mac is so over. very sad indeed.

Re:Requiem for Macintosh (-1, Offtopic)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881127)

Ah. A variation on the ATTN:SWITCHEURS troll.

How about, fuck off?

Re:Requiem for Macintosh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881271)

shut up fag

Re:Requiem for Macintosh (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881307)

You've never gotten laid have you?

Uh... (5, Funny)

w3woody (44457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881079)

Don't they call things that absorb CO2 from the air Trees...?

And couldn't we sequester CO2 from the atmosphere by converting trees into an inert substance--such as paper--then burying it into landfills?

I mean--couldn't we get a 'win/win' here by simply outlawing the recycling of paper?

Re:Uh... (4, Informative)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881133)

You create more carbon dioxide emissions by making paper and burying it to get rid of the minute amount of carbon that the tree(s) obtained from its photosynthesis process.

Also, by outlawing the recycling of paper, you'll reduce the number of trees that are still alive, and eventually wipe out all the trees in the world, and thus, contribute MORE to global warming than minimizing its effect on the planet.

Re:Uh... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881187)

Actually the more people need paper the more trees get planted to supply that demand, trees unlike other forms of carbon is completely renewable.

Also recycling paper is a load of crap, it adds to polution by needing all sorts of nasty chemicals to bleach the paper so it can be re-used, not to mention all the petrolum needed to cart stuff from peoples homes to recyling centres, here they use multiple trucks, one for waste one for recycling.

It costs the US$8bill a yr in subsidies to pay for recycling and cleaning up the chemical by-products, it costs much less to plant and cut down trees.

Re:Uh... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881239)

Right, because trees grow instantaneously, bleach themselves, and require no transportation or other effort to be made into trees.

Re:Uh... (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881241)

Now you're thinking with PORTALS.

*ahem*

I mean, maybe we should just design trees that DO do that.

Re:Uh... (5, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881395)

"Actually the more people need paper the more trees get planted to supply that demand"

I think you will find most paper pulp comes from native hardwood forests, eg: Indonesia, Malaysia, S.America and even here in Australia. Some wealthy countries replant and/or carefully manage the natural regrowth, most just hack it down leaving large areas of barren hills. In Australia we plant non-native pine trees for timber resulting in vast areas of land covered with a pine tree monoculture that is largely devoid of any other lifeforms (even the bugs refuse to live in those forests).

Speaking of cost, how much do you think it costs to cut a ton of timber, turn it into chips, ship it from Australia to Japan and then turn it into paper that is shipped all over the planet. I will wager those costs are far more than the cost of an extra garbage run to collect a ton of used paper that is ready for pulping. Having worked at a sawmill many moons ago the waste timber that was chipped on site was collected by a truck and driven ~200miles to a sea port.

Re:Uh... (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881559)

You're absolutely correct. You should all pay us Canadians (and probably the Russians too) to cut down trees and sink them into the nearby Pacific ocean. It's even all downhill!

We replant native species here and the forest area in the country has not changed in twenty years despite a thriving forestry industry.

Seriously, do you think any fancy process that involves heating things to 900 degrees that we come up with is going to be more efficient at absorbing carbon than a forest? A GROWING forest since a mature one doesn't absorb net carbon.

Re:Uh... (2, Funny)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881725)

In Australia we plant non-native pine trees for timber resulting in vast areas of land covered with a pine tree monoculture that is largely devoid of any other lifeforms (even the bugs refuse to live in those forests).

Maybe they don't like the smell of cheap disinfectant.

Re:Uh... (3, Informative)

delt0r (999393) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881249)

You create more carbon dioxide emissions by making paper and burying it to get rid of the minute amount of carbon that the tree(s) obtained from its photosynthesis process.
What the hell. Where else does the carbon come from? Trees don't pull it out of the ground. ALL the Carbon in a tree comes from the atmosphere. Its anything but minute.

Re:Uh... (3, Informative)

TerminaMorte (729622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881275)

It was my understanding that lumber companies generally plant more trees than they cut down.

So by recycling, less trees are cut... and in turn less are planted.

In fact, we have more trees on earth today than we had in 1970. Hell, even more than we have 70 years ago.
 
  Source [gfagrow.org]

Re:Uh... (5, Informative)

Bender_ (179208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881423)


Yes, but the paper companies only plant single species fast growing trees. Those can not replace the complex ecosystem in the rain forests.

Mod GP up (2, Insightful)

physicsnick (1031656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881513)

Yes, but the paper companies only plant single species fast growing trees.
Exactly, and that's what goes into paper. We're not cutting down the rain forests. Something like 80% of the pulp that goes into paper comes from tree farms. By recycling paper, you're ensuring that less trees get planted. If you want more trees, waste more paper.

It's not hard to understand. Say five of us are living in a closed environment (i.e. earth). All five of us want to eat potatoes. Okay, so we'll plant a five foot wide garden. What if ten of us want potatoes? We'll planet a ten foot wide garden. What if ten of us want to eat twice as many potatoes? We'll plant a twenty foot wide garden.

Now say five of us want to use paper. We'll plant five trees. What if ten of us want paper? We'll plant ten trees. What if we want twice as much paper, even if we're just throwing half away? We'll plant twenty trees. What if we recycle half that paper? Oh, now we don't need twenty trees anymore; we'll only plant ten.

I'm not saying recycling is bad, but the allegation that we're chopping down the rain forests is just plain wrong; it's sensationalism. We've been planting tree farms for over fifty years, and that's what we use today to make paper. That's why the amount of trees in North America has been steadily growing over the past hundred years. There are more trees today than there has ever been, and the simple reason is because we use a lot of paper.

Outlaw Paper Recycling = Not So Bad (1)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881437)

Actually... The process of recycling paper is worse for the environment than simply "harvesting" new paper is. On top of that, creating more demand for new paper creates more demand for... you guessed it, trees! The majority of trees cut down to make paper are replaced by new trees (via reforestation, or tree farming).

Re:Uh... (1)

FiniteElementalist (1073824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881499)

Maybe I was asleep during the carbon cycle part of biology, but the reason why you couldn't just bury some derivative of a plant has escaped me. Since trees, for example, extract carbon from the atmosphere with photosynthesis then release it on decay, couldn't you theoretically extract some of the carbon from the wood then bury in abandoned mine shafts?

The only thing I've heard about that was the proposition to bury charcoal derived from wood, but the counter to that was charcoal was too valuable to justify doing that.

And the wiping out all the trees in the world talk sounds pretty bogus to me. Long before the trees are wiped out the price of wood would skyrocket to the point to either greatly restrict the use of paper or cause for the substitution of some other plant being used for paper, like hemp or reeds.

Re:Uh... (1)

w3woody (44457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881571)

And the wiping out all the trees in the world talk sounds pretty bogus to me. Long before the trees are wiped out the price of wood would skyrocket to the point to either greatly restrict the use of paper or cause for the substitution of some other plant being used for paper, like hemp or reeds.
You forget the third alternative: making tree farming a much more profitable industry.

Of course it's easy to forget the third alternative: it requires admitting the fact that many trees we use are already farmed, rather than stripped from old growth forests in an unsustainable fashion.

In fact, thank the environmental movement for tree farms: by convincing the public that each time a tree is cut down from an old-growth forest God kills a kitten, it has made tree farming more profitable.

Re:Uh... (1)

w3woody (44457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881545)

By your theory our eating potatoes will eventually cause potatoes to go extinct, and our eating corn and using corn for fuel will cause corn to go extinct. And for God's sake don't eat bread; we're quickly running out of wheat to make it with!

Trees that are used to make paper are farmed; that is, trees are planted and harvested in regular cycles on tracts of private land in order to provide the pulp and necessary for making paper.

We don't generally use old-growth trees and slow-growing trees for making paper; that timber, if cut, is too valuable for use as paper and winds up being used in construction. And environmentalism has increased the effective cost of using old-growth forests for wood products.

And while my comment about outlawing paper was intended to be humerous, the reality is this: post-consumer unbleached recycled pulp isn't white; turning it white requires a lot of bleaching, concentrating the various inks on the paper into a toxic sludge which has to go somewhere. So recycling isn't exactly the tree saving (do you stop eating potatoes to keep them from going extinct?) environmentally friendly (chlorine bleach anyone?) activity that it has been made out to be.

Perhaps we could save a step and farm trees, and bury them directly in the ground in order to lock their content of CO2 away, as we clear cut and plough under a tract of land in order to make space for more farmed trees. But the end result is the same: we're taking CO2 out of the atmosphere as we replace older farmed trees with saplings.

Dude, it's a CROP, ffs (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881629)

Also, by outlawing the recycling of paper, you'll reduce the number of trees that are still alive, and eventually wipe out all the trees in the world, and thus, contribute MORE to global warming than minimizing its effect on the planet.


You know, it's this kind of uninformed scares that give environmentalism a bad name.

Do you genuinely think that anyone goes and wipes out rain forests for _paper_? No, seriously. It's a crop, same as grain or cotton or whatever. Relatively fast growing trees are planted, left to grow, then cut down, and new trees are planted. Maybe generously spread some fertilizer too. Repeat ad infinitum. It's that simple.

It wouldn't even be economical to go around the world and wipe out woods for paper, since then you end up having to carry those trees over increasingly long distances to your factory. Plus, you have to keep buying new land or logging rights, and that's more money down the drain. It's a model akin to throwing money down a rat hole.

The plan to let trees fix it and then burry it, isn't too stupid either. Originally Earth had a helluva lot of carbon in the air, in the form of methane and CO2. Not unlike Venus before it lost its hydrogen to solar winds, really. Then plants fixated it, and now it's under the ground. There's a reason why we have an age called Carboniferous, for example. That's where a helluva lot of coal comes from. It was basically a helluva lot of tree-ferns that fixated a helluva lot of carbon, and got buried.

Mind you, it wouldn't make that big a difference, since we don't use as much paper as to come even close to the other carbon emissions. But, purely theoretically speaking, it's one way.

About making paper, there's nothing inherent in that process that releases more CO2 into the air than those trees got from the air. Maybe if you powered it all with a coal power plant, you'd get that effect, but using hydroelectric/solar/nuclear power gets you a net effect of removing carbon from the air via those trees.

Recycling... here also you seem to have some fantasy idea that it's absolutely free, and all that used paper you recycle somehow just miraculously ends up pristine again without any extra energy use. It's not. That used paper has to be cleaned with a lot of chemicals first, for a start. E.g., to get rid of the ink. Not only those aren't necessarily environment friendly, but some energy goes into producing them too. Then it's going to be converted to pulp again, just like wood would, which is only _marginally_ cheaper than starting from wood. And finally it's going to be bleached just like paper from wood would, because it ends up the same kind of naturally-yellow paper it was in the first place.

And that's not even taking into account the effort and energy used to sort it, transport it, etc.

It may surprise you, but a lot of recycling we do nowadays is... well, bluntly put: show business. We're not really saving the planet, we just let some ignorant sheeple feel good about themselves. Paper is one such example. Glass is another. Glass is made out of sand, and it's not any more economical to re-melt used glass than to just melt sand. Recycling whole bottles also doesn't get you much, since you end up washing them with strong chemicals, since you don't know what that guy stored in the bottle or how long a jar has been left to turn into a petri dish before being recycled. Plus, again, you spend a lot on sorting, transport, etc.

And let me give you another example of something which isn't what many people assume: Tetra Pak style packaging. (E.g., milk cartons.) There seems to be a lot of mis-conception that its adoption had anything to do with being environmentally friendly. In practice it's just because it's cheaper than glass, weighs less, and it can be neatly packed in a truck without wasting much space. I.e., you can pack more of them in a truck.

Recycling them, again, actually is a bigger pain and uses more chemicals, than just making a new one. But, hey, you've been trained to sort your garbage like a good trained monkey and feel good about it. Carry on ;)

Re:Dude, it's a CROP, ffs (2, Insightful)

xarak (458209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881723)


Good points well made.

Two issues issue you are missing however:

  - recycling reduces VOLUMES of trash. Glass is not a raw material problem, but a landfill one.
  - burning paper in incinerators (Europe style) effectively releases into the atmosphere all the CO2 that the trees absorbed.

Re:Uh... (1)

solios (53048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881253)

Yes, but they don't have trees in spaaaaace. Which is where something like this can likely do quite a bit of good.

Re:Uh... (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881359)

Yes, but they don't have trees in spaaaaace. Which is where something like this can likely do quite a bit of good.
How do you propose that they extract CO2 from the vacuum of space? That would be a neat trick, but it wouldn't sove the problem of excess CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere.

Re:Uh... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881299)

Would trees do the job we want to do fast enough?

For all you Arrested Development fans out there... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881319)

You don't really get the Environment, do you?

Re:For all you Arrested Development fans out there (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881713)

Join me in destroying the evil beaver so trees everywhere can be safe.

Re:Uh... (4, Interesting)

XNormal (8617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881403)

> And couldn't we sequester CO2 from the atmosphere by converting trees into an inert substance--such as paper--then burying it into landfills?

Yes we can.

But instead of trees, use fast-growing plants like switchgrass or elephant grass. Instead of making them into paper you can pyrolize them into a gas with high energy content and charcoal. Burn the gas to make electricity. Bury the charcoal.

Re:Uh... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881565)

But instead of trees, use fast-growing plants like switchgrass or elephant grass.

Fun treatment on this in an old SF novel "The Complete Venus Equilateral" by George O. Smith. Be careful with the air plant!

Re:Uh... (0, Redundant)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881605)

We could stop cutting down large swathes of forests for a start.

The landfilled paper will rot and methane and CO2 will be released (which is a worse problem). If you want to do something with the paper it's best to burn it and actually get some energy out, rather than let it decompose in a landfill.

Better still, someone else mentioned switchgrass - cellulosic ethanol is the way forward for ethanol, not ethanol from corn. Fortunately, the feedstock for cellulosic ethanol can be any invasive weed that can be grown on land that's marginal for agriculture and won't require tons of fertilizer.

Re:Uh... (1)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881649)


And couldn't we sequester CO2 from the atmosphere by converting trees into an inert substance--such as paper--then burying it into landfills?

Easier to just dump the trees in a big pit of mud. Without oxygen they won't rot and they'll sit there for millions of years slowly petrifying into coal.

Here's a better idea. How about we just stop digging up all the trees that already got buried millions of years ago and burning them for fuel?!!

Re:Uh... (1)

fan of lem (1092395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881677)

You don't understand - it's trees woven around a ginourmous fishing net, which will be carried off by four aircraft, which will circle the atmosphere as often as the neighborhood garbage man collects your trash. The captured CO2 will then be dumped at the dark side of the moon, where Eclipso lives. We get to save the world from global warming AND evil forces!

New Technology! (3, Funny)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881089)

Meanwhile, in a competing lab, scientists have unearthed a competing technology, known in ancient times. These "plants" are rumored to absorb CO2, and unbelivably, some of them, it is rumored, are edible.

Re:New Technology! (1)

ulairix (756597) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881111)

Further research revealed the captured CO2 was converted into breathable oxygen.

Re:New Technology! (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881227)

A few years ago, I saw a colloquium in my department about carbon sequesterization which basically said: take all the corn stalks and bury them somewhere.

For about 300 years, we wouldn't have to worry about that carbon.

I always assumed that was the entirety of carbon sequesterization. It pains me to know that I once again underestimated the stupidity of my fellow man.

Re:New Technology! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881461)

Why not use algae instead? Drop a little iron into the ocean and you get a megagrowth of algae. Then scoop them up, dry them out, and bury them in a hole someplace cold. The amount of CO2 you could reclaim would be immense.

Re:New Technology! (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881531)

Add that one to my solution. Take all the paper used by the world, quit recycling it and instead bundle it up and sink it to the bottom of the ocean. Ditto with the corn stalks. If it's not enough, cut down some forests and toss them down too.

But save the seeds and replant those forests. You know, like forestry operations in most developed countries already do (Canada has a thriving forestry industry but the forested area in the country has remained the same for the last twenty years).

Bingo: carbon sequestration. We should be giving the forestry industry carbon credits.

Re:New Technology! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881579)

Ewww... eating plants, you're sick! Feed them to the real food!

Dry ice (1, Interesting)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881105)

We have this thing commonly known as "dry ice" ; otherwise as "carbon dioxide ice". They don't mine it, you know.

It comes from AIR. *gasp*. It's also been around for a very long time.

Re:Dry ice (2, Informative)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881169)

Dry ice is usually made through chemical reactions that produce CO2.

Re:Dry ice (4, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881183)

No it doesn't. Dry ice is made from commercial CO2, which comes from fossil fuels. In fact, the manufacture of dry ice releases additional CO2 beyond just what ends up as dry ice. The reason is that air is only a few hundred ppm CO2, which is not normally economical to capture and do anything with. Industrially it often comes as a byproduct of ammonia production -- natural gas, CH4, is converted into hydrogen and CO2; the hydrogen is used in making ammonia.

See Carbon Dioxide [wikipedia.org] for details.

Re:Dry ice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881229)

Actually they can mine carbon dioxide! Here, check out wikipedia on this one:
Carbon Dioxide Production [wikipedia.org]
In fact, no where on that list do I see "pull it out of thin air". Now I'm no chemist but I'm sure the reason for this is because air is a mixture and they'd have to chemically extract it. Who knows though, maybe they do but the process is very inefficient and this new discovery is a lot more efficient? The only thing you did get right was the fact that dry ice isn't mined which is understandable since it sublimates at roughly -80C. Not many places on earth where dry ice can be found naturally.

Re:Dry ice (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881373)

We have this thing commonly known as "dry ice" ; otherwise as "carbon dioxide ice". They don't mine it, you know.
It comes from AIR. *gasp*. It's also been around for a very long time.


They do mine it. Dry ice is prepared industrially by reactions of acids with lime or carbonate minerals. It will condense on cold objects but its concentration is only 380 ppm so nobody makes it by distillation from air.

Re:Dry ice (1)

Peter Nikolic (1093513) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881635)

Yea and maybe if people are that worried about the climate global warming/cooling ect then they could also create all this dry ice and dump it out in space therefore getting rid of it on this planet , Maybe not the shuttle but a big fat pipe supported by a geo stationary satelite (SP)

How much coal to power this? (5, Interesting)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881113)

The article does not mention how much carbon needs to be burned to power the device.

Re:How much coal to power this? (2, Insightful)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881143)

Nor does it mention anything about how it works.

Blueprints or it's bullshit!

Re:How much coal to power this? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881191)

That's what annoyed me the most. Such a long article to say almost nothing. :P There are so many different methods of CO2 sequestration under development. To not report at least *which* method they're referring to is journalistic laziness.

Re:How much coal to power this? (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881439)

Nor how much CO2 it takes to produce this CO2 capturing device.

Re:How much coal to power this? (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881459)

It is a portable gas powered device. :D

Re:How much coal to power this? (1)

physicsnick (1031656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881521)

But if we use nuclear power, we need no CO2 emissions to power it.

*gasp* An environmental use for nuclear power??

Re:How much coal to power this? (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881601)

Ohhh... I know, a whole new idea. Make it solar powered!

Dibs on the patent! Nobody's ever invented anything that uses solar power to split CO2!

It's a start... (4, Insightful)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881153)

From TFA:

The air extraction device, in which sorbents capture carbon dioxide molecules from free-flowing air and release those molecules as a pure stream of carbon dioxide for sequestration

I assume that this is more energy efficient than the usual refrigeration based methods for generating pure CO2. This is a good thing. However, they don't say what they're going to do with the CO2 once they purify it. If you can't answer that question, you haven't solved the sequesteration problem.

Re:It's a start... (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881181)

They will sell it. There is a market for CO2 - fire extinguishers, by example, can use impure CO2, even if food/drinks industry needs much purer CO2. Also, one could use compressed CO2 for quick cooling.

Re:It's a start... (4, Informative)

interiot (50685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881297)

There's a market for 11 billion tons of CO2?? Even if there were a market for that much CO2, the point of carbon capture isn't to use the carbon in a way that will be re-released into the atmosphere, the point is to store it away [wikipedia.org] for as long of a time as possible (millions of years, preferably).

The very specific problem with burning fossil fuels is that it's liberating carbon dioxide that hasn't been part of the natural carbon cycle for hundreds of millions of years... it hasn't been in the atmosphere or part of plants or anything like that... it's been buried underground. By burning the fossil fuels, humans are introducing that carbon back into the atmosphere at a very rapid rate, and the only way to make sure we don't increase the amount CO2 in the atmosphere is to semi-permanently store as much carbon as we're mining from underground in the form of oil.

Big, Big Market. Emissions Credits. (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881611)

Companies that produce greenhouse emissions will get to make fewer upgrades to their plants if they invest in technology like this.

It is cheaper to earn emission credits through investing in someting like this (plus good PR) than to upgrade your manufacturing/refining/whatever facilities.

Regards.

Re:It's a start... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881621)

Umm... ya know, you could take the CO2 and split it up into carbon and oxygene. The oxygene could be used for many fun things, like breathing, while the carbon could be used in some creative way that doesn't involve burning it.

Re:It's a start... (1)

tjl2015 (673427) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881345)

Read the article, it says that they want to sequester it. It's actually an ingeniously simple method to solve the carbon dioxide problem. If the technology proves viable, you just set up a bunch of these things next to an oil field. They pump the carbon dioxide down into the wells, forcing out more oil and trapping the carbon dioxide in the process.

Think about it, if the rocks beneath an oil field can stably hold volatile substances like natural gas in place for millions of years, there's no reason why the same rocks can't hold carbon dioxide. It's almost miraculously simple, stick the carbon dioxide right back in the ground it came from!

Although, I am skeptical of the total capacity of these oil fields, and they might be prone to leak.

What I've been wondering is if it's possible to reverse the reaction. Your basic combustion reaction goes like:

fuel(in carbon-hydrogen-oxygen compounds) +oxygen => C02 + H20.

Is it possible to reverse this, take the concentrated CO2, add a stream of water, and put it through a series of endothermic chemical reactions to produce a usable fuel, preferably gasoline.

Now I know this sounds like a glorified perpetual motion machine, so it would obviously require an external power source. You could use anything for this, nuclear, hydro, solar, wind, whatever.

Does anyone know if this is feasible? Do we have the technology to reverse a combustion reaction? You would definitely need to add energy, the question is HOW MUCH energy?

If you could figure out how to do that, especially if tied to nuclear or a renewable electricity source, you can forget about hydrogen cars, battery cars, and all the rest. It would be a beautiful system if you could get it to work. No more drilling for oil, no more dependency on volatile countries, and a renewable source of portable power that can be used till the end of time. You take C02 out of the air, make fuel, burn it, and it goes right back into the air. The whole system's completely carbon neutral. Best of all, you don't need to replace a single car that's currently on the road. Run it from a reactor, and you can quit making poor people starve so we can make ethanol.

Sure, I would like to drive a hydrogen car, but the technology is years and years away. We need to solve this problem yesterday. Mass deployment of hydrogen or electric cars would involve hundreds of billions of dollars in new infrastructure, as well as replacing every single car on the road. Hydrocarbons have many benefits as an energy delivery mechanism. They're stable, portable, and highly energy dense, all the while being extremely easy to extract energy from. The only problems are that they exist in limited quantities, are found primarily in regions with degenerate/hostile governments, and are now known to cause global warming. The only downside that would remain when going to a synthetic fuel would be the smog that engines cause, but I think that could remedied with better filtering technology. If hydrocarbons could be made into a renewable fuel source, there is no reason they could and should not be used indefinitely.

Re:It's a start... (4, Insightful)

tjl2015 (673427) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881447)

Well, guess I should have Googled first.

Google: "synthesizing hydrocarbons from water and carbon dioxide":
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox- a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&hs=1QI&q=synt hesizing+hydrocarbons+from+water+and+carbon+dioxid e&btnG=Search [google.com]

Apparently they've been working on this technology for awhile. I think they were originally planning on using the exhaust gases from a coal plant or something as a source of raw carbon dioxide. But I don't see why you couldn't use this new technology!
http://www.inl.gov/videos/sc/syntrolysis.pdf [inl.gov]
http://www.kpk.gov.pl/images/i7pr/bb295736b8d250fc 0ccf0a0742b164c1.pdf [kpk.gov.pl]
http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/artic les/olah/index.html [nobelprize.org]

I think this could work. Imagine a facility centered around a nuclear reactor. It draws water from a lake/river, uses what energy is needed to power an array of these atmospheric C02 extractors, and combines them to produce usable fuel! This could change everything. At our current level of technology, we don't have a problem with clean energy. If we had the will power, we could turn off all the coal plants, build a bunch of reactors, and remove that component of global warming overnight (relatively speaking). However, we would still need a source of portable power. A facility like this would be an "instant oil field." Any nation on Earth can become its own Saudi Arabia.

I really hope this CO2 extraction technology proves viable, because if it is, we have on our hands nothing less than the solution to the entire global warming problem.

prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881163)

green plants did it first.

but aside from that... they invented the wet cooling tower... oooooooo

Successful as in... (0)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881167)

1) It got some Federal money
2) It got some State money
3) It got some private money
4) It actually captured some CO2
5) It captured more carbon than sending all the waste paper to the landfill rather than recycling it would do?

Paul B.

Re:Successful as in... (1)

psaunders (1069392) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881337)

Perhaps it's just successful as in, seeming reasonably plausible. The first unsuccessful demonstration of CO2 capture was probably achieved by some nerd putting his own spin on that tireless got-yer-nose joke.

The spice must flow. (5, Insightful)

Meph_the_Balrog (796101) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881171)

FTA:

Extensive deployment of the GRT air capture system makes it possible to envision an actual reduction of CO2 levels in the atmosphere, perhaps even to pre-industrial levels.

I find this idea somewhat concerning. All too often the human race is guilty of doing things because they can, before they learn whether or not they should. I'm all for reducing carbon emissions, but in all honesty, what the hell will we break if we start trying to extract too much carbon from the atmosphere.

Mind you, find a way to quickly and efficiently separate the carbon from the oxygen, install in long range space craft and you suddenly have near limitless air for deep space voyages.

Re:The spice must flow. (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881291)

All too often the human race is guilty of doing things because they can, before they learn whether or not they should.
Watched Jurassic Park lately?

Re: Separating carbon and oxygen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881321)

CO2 is a very stable molecule. There's a lot of energy required to break it apart. It's probably more efficient to remove CO2 from the air rather than try and split it. That's what we already do using lithium hydroxide. You end up with lithium carbonate and water. As long as the CO2 is removed from the air to provide a concentration gradient in your lungs, you can deal with less O2 (10% or so).

Re:The spice must flow. (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881323)

All too often the human race is guilty of doing things because they can, before they learn whether or not they should.
QFT.

However this is not as bad as blocking the sun with mirrors or other such really really stupid ideas.

I think this is nice little though experiment. Say we *prove* beyond doubt (this is probably imposable) that we didn't cause the warming/cooling and that no matter what we do we going into a really warm/cold period. Would we still see it fit to "install" a planet wide airconditioning system?

You know because the change is natural so we shouldn't change it right? Or is that we just don't really want the/to change in the first place.

Re:The spice must flow. (2, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881331)

I find this idea somewhat concerning. All too often the human race is guilty of doing things because they can, before they learn whether or not they should. I'm all for reducing carbon emissions, but in all honesty, what the hell will we break if we start trying to extract too much carbon from the atmosphere.

I agree! The precautionary principle says that you should change with the natural world unless you know it's safe. Historically, atmospheric CO2 levels have been rising slowly for a hundred years or so. Possibly some of that is caused by humans, but it seems we should stick with the status quo until we have more evidence as to how much, and whether increased CO2 is a good thing, a bad thing or doesn't matter at all.

It's possible that lowering CO2 suddenly might cause the climate to flip into a new stable state, like a new Ice Age. Since the costs of this would be vast, it's very important not to take any measures which could allow it to happen. If irresponsible Europeans persist in sequestering carbon, the US should increase it's carbon emissions to compensate to ensure that the current trends continue.

Re:The spice must flow. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881413)

The worlds oceans will easily replace the CO2 in the atmosphere. They are the largest buffering solution out there.. C02 like other gases flow in and out of the oceans at a constant rate based on ocean temperature, surface area and PCO2 in solution and PCO2 in the Air. So what does this mean. If you remove ALL the CO2 from the AIR the Oceans will automatically replace almost ALL of it in the process of bringing back the CO2 Air to Buffer exchange rate.

GB.
Chemist.

P.S. to solve the AGW pseudo problem you better plan on removing most of CO2 from the oceans as well.

Re:The spice must flow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881547)

If irresponsible Europeans persist in sequestering carbon, the US should increase it's carbon emissions to compensate to ensure that the current trends continue.
Have you realized that the *current trend* is what is wrong here? It may be a bad idea to extract huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere without measuring carefully the consequences, but It IS more irresponsible to continue with the huge CO2 emissions, which is the current trend.

Re:The spice must flow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881693)

Have you realized that the *current trend* is what is wrong here? It may be a bad idea to extract huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere without measuring carefully the consequences, but It IS more irresponsible to continue with the huge CO2 emissions, which is the current trend.

The point is not that we should keep increasing CO2 production, but that starting to remove more than our own waste is equally bad.

The temperature is slowly rising, and has been doing so ever since the last ice age (that's why the valley outside my home hasn't been full of ice for the last few thousand years). It is likely that given the ability, will have CO2 removal increased to the point where the temperature will start to go down even though it should be going up. And then in a couple of hundred years, when we pass the peak, and the temperature starts dropping towards the next ice age, we will have given it a head start.

Cleaning up our own waste is fine, but messing with nature is equally bad in either direction.

Re:The spice must flow. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881671)

what the hell will we break if we start trying to extract too much carbon from the atmosphere.



I doubt that with out current CO2 release, we can extract "too much" carbon from the atmosphere. It's not rocket science to stop the extraction when the CO2 level drops below a certain threshold.



However - how the heck are we supposed to get all the energy necessary to capture all the carbon dioxide, without releasing more than we capture ? And wouldn't it make more sense to use all of this energy to replace CO2-emitting energy sources instead ?

Re:The spice must flow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881679)

When you're busy bailing the ship, it is no time to wonder if perhaps you're putting a little oil in the harbor.

May I be the first to say (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881179)

...this project sucks, literally

Global Chilling? (0, Troll)

ThePopeLayton (868042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881193)

Watch some Republican in congress is going to pass a bill outlawing this tech because of the possible "Global Chilling by terrorist". (Not only will he be seen as Anti-Terror, but eco-friendly.)

You gotta love politics.

Re:Global Chilling? (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881327)

I love politics almost as much as I love reading ridiculous slippery slope arguments based on hate.

Capture, then split into CO and O? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881355)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/07041 8091932.htm [sciencedaily.com]

There's some work going on at UC San Diego to use solar power to convert CO2 into CO (carbon monoxide) and O. Apparently, CO is useful in industrial chemical processes like making plastic. There's also some talk of using it as a fuel.

Re:Capture, then split into CO and O? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881637)

I dunno if that would really be such an improvement. CO is toxic (displaces O when you inhale it and you die from CO poisoning) while CO2 is mostly inert.

How it Works (4, Informative)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881357)

The article doesn't say how it works. They link to a Discover Magazine article that describes one of their methods.
http://discovermagazine.com/2005/oct/climate/?sear chterm=heading%20toward%20twice%20the%20CO2 [discovermagazine.com]

Liquid sodium hydroxide turns to sodium carbonate as it absorbs CO2. Then you percolate it over solid calcium hydroxide and the calcium captures the carbon. Then you heat the calcium carbonate to 900 deg Celsius to get it to release the CO2.

They claim to have developed a new sorbent that isn't as nasty as sodium hydroxide, but none of the articles seem to say what it is.

Re:How it Works (2, Informative)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881583)

They say the CO2 can be stored underground till we run out of space after a while. Then they say maybe entire mountain ranges of magnesium silicates can be converted to magnesium carbonates, because over the millenia that's what would happen to them naturally anyway. But Wikipedia says preparing the rock may be expensive. Another suggestion is to put the CO2 in the oceans where at depths below 10,000ft (3000m) the pressure keeps the CO2 liquid, and it's denser than water so it pools on the bottom. The CO2 might also be dissolved in worthless salty underground water deposits. It can be pumped into coal fields that aren't economical where it sticks to the coal and displaces methane which can then be used. It can be pumped into oil and gas fields. It can be dissolved in the ocean at shallower depths like 1000m or so, but it would make the water acidic and some would eventually re-enter the atmosphere. Of course Wikipedia has more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_capture_and_st orage [wikipedia.org]

Re:How it Works (1)

ockegheim (808089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881631)

Sodium hydroxide [wikipedia.org] is produced by electrolysis (though if the Arabs could use it for making soap in the 7th century there may be other processes available). Heating something to 900 degrees also takes energy, which would have to be carbon neutral energy for the process not to be pointless. Hopefully the new sorbent uses less energy.

Re:How it Works (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881651)

Sounds awefully power intense. Even with NaOH replaced.

Hire the martians! (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881375)

They made a nifty machine in the D.F. Jones novel "Collosus and the Crab" (third book of the Collosus trilogy) with which they planned to extract 50% of the O2 from the Earth's atmosphere. If they can do that, they can probably build a CO2 extractor instead. But at what cost?

Don't store it! (2, Funny)

glasspanic (1089385) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881377)

They should so like, seperate the carbon and oxygen, turn the carbon into diamonds, and then sell the oxygen at an oxygen bar. They they would make like, infinity million dollars!

This makes no sense (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881399)

It makes no sense to me. It seems as though they promote the use of CO2 extraction as an aleternative to saving energy because they can avoid global warming.

While this may be true, but it still drains the limited energy supply of the planet.

This seems useful for closed environments (space stations, moonbase alpha, sea lab, etc), but is it more efficient than current methods? It does not compare to current technology, as this may be only valid for larger scale conversion.

Re:This makes no sense (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881627)

The energy supply on earth is limited now? And here I was thinking we were constantly absorbing energy from a giant furnace.

Can some provide a useful link? (4, Insightful)

msevior (145103) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881405)

As others have pointed out, this article is almost entirely useless.

Can someone provide a link to something that answers the obvious questions:

1. How does it work?

2. How much energy does it take to extract it's 10 tonnes of CO2 per year?

3. How does this compare with refrigeration or plants as a means to reduce CO2 concentration?

4. What is it's likely cost?

ee (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881435)

ee

What about the oxygen? (2, Insightful)

ars (79600) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881449)

Something very important that this project and other ideas to sequester CO2 have forgotten: what about the Oxygen?

If you start sequestering CO2 on a massive scale, it could work to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere - but at the same time you will permanently remove Oxygen from the atmosphere as well!

Now sure, at 21% there is plenty, but if removing CO2 is the plan, and it's a long term plan, slowly but surely there will be less and less oxygen in the air.

Re:What about the oxygen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881527)

Not only that, but think about all the o2 used to create h20 during the burning of, well... anything.
Ultimately, we'll have to learn to seperate o2 from h2o as well.

In the short term it'll work, but it seems like another case of the current generation leaving problems for the next generation to solve.

At least as a race we wont get bored.

Re:What about the oxygen? (3, Informative)

physicsnick (1031656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881575)

Your post doesn't make any sense. If we start stripping CO2 out of the atmosphere, it will not (immediately) affect the amount of oxygen. They are two entirely different molecules which interact differently with matter, and in this context the fact that CO2 actually contains oxygen nuclei is irrelevant.

In any case, the atmosphere is 20.946% oxygen and 0.038% carbon dioxide (by volume). Even if we strip all the carbon out, the overall amount of oxygen nuclei in the atmosphere will remain essentially unchanged.

Obviously removing ALL of the CO2 would be an insanely bad idea; not because we'd be removing oxygen from the atmosphere, but because all the plants would die.

Re:What about the oxygen? (1)

ars (79600) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881609)

Um - did you forget how the CO2 got there in the first place? You burned carbon with oxygen. Meaning if you remove the CO2, you also remove oxygen.

And as far as how much CO2 vs oxygen there is, I don't have any actual data, but I have a feeling that the only reason there is so little CO2 is that plants are very good at removing nearly all of it - but they give back the oxygen. If we did that the oxygen is gone.

Don't look just at current ratios, but rather at the cycling, i.e. how much oxygen is burned (via fire or animals) and then "regenerated" (by plants) per year. I have no solid information, but I am guessing that we cycle nearly all the oxygen in the atmosphere pretty often.

Re:What about the oxygen? (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881743)

So you raise an alarm based on nothing more than a feeling? Do you somehow feel that being a chicken little helps matters, or are you just convinced of your own omniscience?

Re:What about the oxygen? (2, Informative)

w3woody (44457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881599)

If you start sequestering CO2 on a massive scale, it could work to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere - but at the same time you will permanently remove Oxygen from the atmosphere as well!

CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million, while O2 levels are measured in percentage points. The amount of oxygen that may get trapped by such a scheme is minute relative to the total amount of oxygen in the atmosphere.

Re:What about the oxygen? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881663)

Well, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is rather small (2%? something like that), and I doubt they could get close to removing that amount. My guess is that the shift would be in the second digit behind the decimal.

Re:What about the oxygen? (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881697)

Well, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is rather small (2%? something like that)
2% would kill you. More like 0.038%...

My friend (1)

Centurix (249778) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881487)

The sup tag wants in on the action.

Submarines... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881493)

...scrub CO2 from the air, don't they?

Doesn't that class as prior art?

Isn't this just a re-application of technique known since at least WWII?

I couldn't believe my eyes! (1, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881587)

Before reading the comments, I took a moment to RTFM. (Yeah, yeah, I know, this is Slashdot, but we all slip up once in a while.) In the second paragraph, they mention "...an esteemed array of global experts -- including former Vice President Al Gore..." What did Al Gore do to deserve being called a "global expert?" I mean, besides producing a heavily-slanted "documentary" filled with questionable "facts" and spending more each month on his electric bill than I earn?

By capturing CO2 you capture C and O2 (1, Interesting)

Gotta ask yourself.. (977664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881727)

You know, we need O2 to live. Burying it into the ground doesn't sound like such a great idea, does it?

The best way to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere still is and always will be to not emit it in the first place. Any other ways will just lead to the global reduction of Oxygen.

That hard to get?

Pffft, this already exists (0)

bogomipz (807251) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881735)

This is GRT's first step toward a commercially viable air capture device.

Such a device already exists! In the movie Spaceballs, it was used to capture all of the air surrounding an entire planet. Congrats for reinventing 1987 technology, GRT!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaceballs [wikipedia.org]
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