A company called Carbon Engineering developed giant fans that suck Carbon Dioxide (CO2) pollution from the air.
The fans work a bit like trees, but the company says that “planting enough trees in the numbers needed would require diverting vast amounts of agriculturally productive land. In fact, to absorb enough CO2 as an air-capture facility, trees would require roughly a thousand times more land.” Unlike trees, however, air-capture plants can be built on land that cannot be cultivated, such as deserts.
David Keith, a professor at Harvard University School of Engineering and the executive chairman of Carbon Engineering, together with a team of scientists has been doing CO2 capturing at a Prototype Contactor at the University of Calgary for several years already. The prototype system built at the University can absorb emissions from about 14-15 vehicles or about 100 kilos of carbon dioxide per day.
The fans work by sucking in the air into an absorbent liquid inside. The liquid turns the CO2 into a carbonate solution that fills a container at the bottom of the fans. The air that comes out on the other side is ‘cleaner’, being stripped of 80% of it CO2 content. The carbonate solution can then be processed for hydrocarbons used in fuel.
The construction of the demo plant by the end of this year will be the last step for Carbon Engineering before building a first commercial air-capture plant by 2017.