More good news for the environment this week, as a team of researchers from Harvard University and a company called Carbon Engineering have announced a major breakthrough that may not only reverse the effects of climate change but create a new supply of gasoline at the same time.
The new process – which has already been reportedly tested at scale – uses an inexpensive and easy to produce technique to scrub carbon from the air and turn it into gasoline instead. The technique uses limestone, hydrogen, and air to complete the process, which can be done using small, home-owned carbon scrubbers, on massive industrial sized factories.
This technology has been around for quite some time, but it hasn’t been cost-effective to implement. A few years back, researchers estimated that it would cost a minimum of $600 to remove a metric ton of carbon dioxide from the air, but the team from Harvard says they can do it for as little as $94, and no more than $232. To put that in perspective, that means it would cost between $1 and $2.50 to remove the CO2 produced from burning a single gallon of gas from a typical automobile. In other words, it is still an expense to take into consideration, but considering the impact it could have on the planet, it is a more affordable solution than some other options we’ve seen. ‘
Carbon Engineering says that it has already built a small-scale version of its carbon-scrubbing machine at its test plan in British Columbia, Canada. The next step is to seek funding to build a larger version, which it hopes to do by 2021.
Apparently, the science behind the process isn’t especially new or complicated, with the prototype version being described as a cooling tower grafted onto a paper mill. In effect, the machine pulls outside air into the factory where it is exposed to an alkaline liquid which can break down CO2, Next, the carbon-mixed liquid is pulled inside the factor where it goes through a chemical process that separates the acid and the base. The liquid is then frozen and slowly heated, until it converts to a semi-liquid mixture. Finally, carbon dioxide that is extracted through this process is combined with hydrogen to turn it into fuel, which can then be reused elsewhere.
One concern over this process is that it may help the environment, but potentially destabilize politics between nations that are dependent on oil for gasoline and those that rely on selling that fuel supply. If this were to scale up to an industrial size, it could diminish the reliance on fossil fuels, something that is ultimately good for the environment too, but not necessarily for how we get along with one another.
Still, a new source of fuel that also happens to reduce the impact of climate change, and could potentially change it forever, seems like a miracle discovery. We need to help these guys get as much funding as they can, and quickly. Read more about this here.
Thanks to Adventure Journal for sharing this story.
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