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First Successful Demonstration of CO2 Capture Technology 521

Posted by samzenpus
from the scrub-that-global-warming-away dept.
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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First Successful Demonstration of CO2 Capture Technology

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  • Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by w3woody (44457) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:15AM (#18881079) Homepage
    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... (Score:5, Informative)

      by CriminalNerd (882826) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:25AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        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 clea
        • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:41AM (#18881239)
          Right, because trees grow instantaneously, bleach themselves, and require no transportation or other effort to be made into trees.
          • by B3ryllium (571199)
            Now you're thinking with PORTALS.

            *ahem*

            I mean, maybe we should just design trees that DO do that.
            • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

              by gerrysteele (927030) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @05:56AM (#18882117)
              So what about genetically modified trees that consume superstancial amounts of CO2?

              Trees that grow high into the sky. Trees that grow so big we can build cities in their overlapping branches.

              Trees my friends that bear bounties fruits and sustenance for all mankind alike?

              Trees so beautiful they would make a grown man weep in awe.

              And these trees I sayeth, they shall become our new friend. Our new master. Our new servant.

              All hail our new genetically modified tree overlords.
          • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

            by sentientbeing (688713) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @06:36AM (#18882321)
            Actally, Ents have been observed in the wild to strip off their own leaves, bleach themselves and climb into recycling chipping machines in paper mills when depressed.
        • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TapeCutter (624760) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:09AM (#18881395) Journal
          "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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ceoyoyo (59147)
            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
            • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Informative)

              by zacronos (937891) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @11:20AM (#18885201)

              A GROWING forest since a mature one doesn't absorb net carbon.
              I'm sorry, but this is wrong. From this article on genetically engineering trees [globaljusticeecology.org] (emphasis mine):

              The established myth that forests drastically slow or even stop their carbon sequestration as they mature has been found to be false. Research shows that intact mature forest ecosystems have a net carbon absorption not directly related to the growth of the established forest trees. Undergrowth and natural regeneration additionally contribute to carbon absorption. Forest soils also hold carbon, which is lost into the atmosphere when the forest is logged.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by jimicus (737525)
            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.
          • No, not so much (Score:5, Informative)

            by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @04:27AM (#18881761)
            Wood pulp is mostly soft wood, with spruce, pine and fir being real popular. Hardwood is sometimes used, but much more rarely and then generally birch. In the US at least a large amount of it is grown just for that purpose. There is neither the need nor reason to use old growth. Young, small, even diseased and dying trees do just fine. Thus it is fairly economical to farm them.

            Old, large trees of the hardwood variety are much more valuable for construction and thus you see them used there. No point in using an expensive tree for paper when a cheap one does quite well.

            That's not to say there's no reason to recycle, but please let's not spread BS about paper production. It is not people sneaking in to the rain forest and cutting down huge, thousand year old trees. It's tree farms in the US growing some scraggly pine and pulping that.
            • Re:No, not so much (Score:5, Interesting)

              by TapeCutter (624760) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @07:02AM (#18882437) Journal
              "but please let's not spread BS about paper production"

              If you look at my post I was not attacking US forestry, as I said most wealthy countries look after whatever they have left. But lets not kid ourselves that the bulk of the worlds woodchips come from from wealthy countries. High quality hardwood chips from the places I mentioned are extremely cheap when compared to what the original resource is really worth.

              "It is not people sneaking in to the rain forest and cutting down huge, thousand year old trees"

              Not sure about 1kyrs but the mill I worked at (early 80's) used 350yro mountain ash (Australian version is a huge tree) for house frames and bridge timber, the substantial amount of waste was chipped, the "hearts" are full of red dirt and are burned. The area is now a national park but the practice continues in other areas. Even in the eighties that was small scale and highly regulated compared to the modern day practices in the other places I mentioned, look it up - these people aren't "sneaking" they are large companies with the type of political clout the *IAA has wet dreams over.

              And if bulldozing eveything in sight is not bad enough, take a look at the Shell's practices in Nigeria or Texaco in Ecuador, or any of the countless number of times that western society has shat on it's neighbours veggie garden.
          • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Informative)

            by jonadab (583620) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @07:00AM (#18882421) Homepage Journal
            > I think you will find most paper pulp comes from native hardwood forests

            Hardwoods for the most part can be sold as lumber and are more valuable in that form than as paper, even in the poorest countries. Making paper out of oak and maple is financially the equivalent to melting down dimes and reforming them in the shape of nickels. I'm not saying it never happens, but it is not the norm. Paper is generally made from fast-growth wood that doesn't make very valuable lumber, typically pine or other conifers.

            What's really interesting is that it requires less total financial outlay, and less energy (discounting solar radiation that would otherwise not be harnessed), to maintain fast-growth pine plantations and make paper from those, versus recycling paper. Of all the things that you can recycle, paper is substantially the least worthwhile, both environmentally and economically. (The most worthwhile is probably glass, but just about any metal is quite worth recycling too. Plastics vary.)
          • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Informative)

            by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmatt e r .org> on Thursday April 26, 2007 @11:08AM (#18884971) Journal

            Hi. I own a pine tree farm outside of Cleveland, Texas, and I am here to reply to your assertions.

            I think you will find most paper pulp comes from native hardwood forests, eg: Indonesia, Malaysia, S.America and even here in Australia.

            Hardwood is a piss-poor way to generate pulpwood, because hardwood grows so slowly. The softwood pines, and some of the new varieties of grasses, are much more efficient. The majority of American industrial woodpulp comes from American and Canadian softwoods (although this is changing; see below). We are also seeing the slow rise of an industry around the pulpy grasses.

            Some wealthy countries replant and/or carefully manage the natural regrowth, most just hack it down leaving large areas of barren hills.

            Not in America [heinzctr.org]. That means that if there is any brazen hacking going on, or urban sprawl, it is balanced by new plantings elsewhere.

            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).

            While the pine-trees are indeed bred to be "supertrees", their resistance is aimed at diseases and at early competition (i.e. they are bred to grow a tall canopy as fast as possible in order to beat out woody competition). The bugs don't care -- in fact I will think of your statement next time I'm in my monoculture forest swatting (or running from) the hordes of insects. For that matter, part of my land is wettish river bottomland, completely covered in random wild trees, yet the larger critters and the birds seem to prefer the drier pines.

            Still, you are right that a pine forest's understory and associated critters are relatively sparse... but that is not due to monoculture; it is true of any pine forest, even the much-vaunted old-growth redwoods in California. This is because pine needles naturally acidify the soil, and most other plants can't tolerate that. It is the pine's own natural anticompetitive practice.

            Either way, pines (and other softwoods) are still the fastest way to sequester large amounts of airborn carbon. Your beloved understory vegetation has a fast grow/die/rot cycle which does not permanently sequester any carbon, and which slows down the trees which do. Perhaps you should disentangle your pro-carbon-sequestration argument from your pro-biodiversity argument, because the fastest and most profitable way to sequester airborne carbon is also the least biodiverse. (And if you compromise on "most profitable", then brace yourself for the world's unwillingness to do it.) The reverse is also true: the most biodiverse place in the world is the rainforest, and rainforests have so much rot that they do not consume any net carbon at all. (If you think they do, I'd love to hear an explanation of where they're storing it.)

            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.

            True enough. Domestic timber production is the answer... and indeed was the answer here in America. We had a great pulp market until the feds, under pressure from Environmentalists, banned logging in national forestlands. That drove a lot of the domestic mills out of business, and when they died, the bottom fell out of the pulp market. Presently, I will be paid $0 for the pulpwood take from this year's thinning. Now what effect do you suppose that will have on

      • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Informative)

        by delt0r (999393) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:44AM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TerminaMorte (729622)
        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... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Bender_ (179208) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:15AM (#18881423) Journal

          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 (Score:3, Insightful)

            by physicsnick (1031656)

            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

            • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @04:34AM (#18881793)
              Cost. Pure and simple there is no reason to cut down trees in another country and ship them back here to make paper. Paper is made form pulp, you literally grind up a tree. Thus really any tree will do. Softwood is fine, young trees are fine, even dying trees work fine. Thus is is by far the most economical to just grow them.

              If you are going to go to the trouble of shipping rain forest wood over you are going to use it to build something. A tree fetches far more as some nice mahogany tables than it would ground up and made in to newsprint.

              For whatever else you might think about companies, they don't waste things just for the fun of it. It all comes down to economics. No company in their right mind is going to waste money on importing expensive wood when cheap wood will do. Especially when rainforests are a touchy topic and doing so brings bad PR.

              I really think people who wish to push environmental action would do much better if they got their facts straight and stopped trying to make everything out to be a crisis.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Pharmboy (216950)
                I think you hit the nail on the head: Those of us that are for CONSERVATION are put off by Environmentalists. The "all or nothing" approach of the Crisis Crowd leads to a lack of cooperation. I can't stand most Environmentalists, even though I agree with about half of what they are asking for.

                Some of us think that pollution should be reduced because it sucks to breath pollution. If it helps a spotted owl, then thats good, too. Water should be clean because I drink it. Hunting should be allowed but reg
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by bigmammoth (526309)

              We're not cutting down the rain forests.

              right we are burning them, for bigMacs ...

              (and the process of modernization and industrialization of previously subsistence populations into a global economic framework. Basically a lot of people became really poor and desperate to make money once neo-liberal policies forced the integration of local economies into the global market. Survival instincts quickly take over and once the race to the bottom takes full swing. Who can make deals with corrupt officials the f

          • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by FredThompson (183335) <<moc.gnirpsdnim> <ta> <nospmohtderf>> on Thursday April 26, 2007 @05:18AM (#18881969)
            Yes, but the paper companies only plant single species fast growing trees. Those can not replace the complex ecosystem in the rain forests.

            --

            Modding that post as 5, Informative doesn't make any sense unless it was to illustrate popular misconceptions and propaganda.

            Lumber companies, like any other farmers, would prefer to plant in places where the crops will grow and can be harvested for a profit and new crops grown. Rain forests are particularly POOR places to grow trees. The primary reason the U.S. imports so much lumber is because of Clinton-era restrictions on tree harvesting.

            The myth of clear-cutting as a lumbering practice is also crazy. Think about it, the infrastructure needed to process and move the crop would have to be continually rebuilt. How many farmers do that? They will rotate the harvest areas as a way to let the soil regenerate but they don't strip the surface and continually move on.

            Recycling paper, FWIW, yields a far inferior product in many, many ways. The more paper fibers are handled, the shorter they become. Compare an American corrugated box to one from China or Southern Europe. You'll find the recycled paper does not have the same strength. New fiber must be added or you eventually end up with a useless substance.

            The idea that only one species of tree is planted by lumber companies is pure propaganda and incredibly naive. Like any other plant, different types of trees have different types of fibers. Different types of fibers are used to make different types of papers. It would no more be feasible to plant only one type of tree than it would to plant only one type of any other crop because the soil would become depleted. Paper companies are lumber companies. Are all the boards at a lumber store the same type of wood? Of course not.

            Lumber companies are farmers. Remember that and use it as a way to filter out the propaganda. You might be interested to learn the opinion of one of the founders of Greenpeace: http://www.corrugatedmachines.com/2007-04-09%20BCN %20-%20Trees%20are%20the%20Answer.pdf [corrugatedmachines.com]

            His comment that people should fight the auto and oil industries is more than a little whacked. Imagine what it would be like without plastics and the internal combustion engine. We'd be living the same as people did before the industrial revolution which would be a far shorter lifespan and much, much harder lives...burning coal and wood which genreate far more pollution/energy but that's a whole different topic...
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by BigDogCH (760290)
              "
              Modding that post as 5, Informative doesn't make any sense unless it was to illustrate popular misconceptions and propaganda.

              Lumber companies, like any other farmers, would prefer to plant in places where the crops will grow and can be harvested for a profit and new crops grown. Rain forests are particularly POOR places to grow trees. The primary reason the U.S. imports so much lumber is because of Clinton-era restrictions on tree harvesting.

              The myth of clear-cutting as a lumbering practice is also
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
              Bull. Shit.

              Do a GIS for clear cut [google.com] and you get 2,300,000 pictures.

              I live in timber land, and while there are a few who cut responsibly, hardly any corporation does. They do it quick with a bulldozer, and they move on to the next lot. They don't pay attention to stream buffers, they don't pay attention to tree species, and they don't replant in a timely manner.

              And while we're at it, where does the illusion that farmers are models of ecology come from? Erosion, topsoil problems, fertilizer and pesticides. They
        • Think about your logic. If it was true that they were planting trees, then we would have LOTS more, not less. The reality is that the lumber companies who take from federal/state lands do NOT replant. Their argument is that other trees will do the seeding. OTH, when they take from private lands esp their own, then they are forced by contracts to re-seed. More expensive, but better results. Here in American, we WERE moving to trees being taken for private lands, but W. re-opened the forests and now allow th
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mysticgoat (582871)

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

          I think when you look at it closely, you will find that "more" is a more subtle and complex concept than it first appears to be.

          In terms of simple counting, the "tree growing company" and others like it do plant more seedlings than the count of mature trees harvested. So if I pick up four pebbles while a backhoe picks up a single boulder, I'm holding more rock than the backhoe is. Yeah.

          In context with air scrubbers, an appropriate kind of "moreness" would be the volume of air swept by needles. In a 10

          • Oops! (was: Uh...) (Score:3, Informative)

            by mysticgoat (582871)

            The scrubber volume of a mature 10 acre stand of douglas fir is around 600 acre-feet (not 60). The freshly replanted plot would have scrubber volume of no more than 0.8% of this; its effective scrubbing volume would be less than 0.1% of the mature stand that it replaced.

            Apologies about the original figures. They were calculated using pre-coffee wetware, which has a local reputation for being notoriously unreliable.

      • by w3woody (44457)
        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 pape
      • HEMP (Score:4, Interesting)

        by essence (812715) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @04:41AM (#18881823) Homepage Journal
        All this recycling and tree replanting should be avoided in the first place. We should be planting hemp everywhere. It has many more benefits than growing pine, for instance. Less to no chemicals needed. It's a nitrogen fixer (in the soil). Grows quickly. Hemp is the answer. Leave the forests to become old growth again.
    • by solios (53048)
      Yes, but they don't have trees in spaaaaace. Which is where something like this can likely do quite a bit of good.
      • by Eric Smith (4379) *

        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.

    • http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/ [treesforlife.org.uk]

      Bring back wolves.

       
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Would trees do the job we want to do fast enough?
      • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Funny)

        by ErroneousBee (611028) <neil:neilhancock,co,uk> on Thursday April 26, 2007 @05:35AM (#18882051) Homepage
        back of envelope maths:

        From TFA (or we could go to the Stern Report):
        "A device with an opening of one square meter can extract about 10 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. If a single device were to measure 10 meters by 10 meters it could extract 1,000 tons each year. On this scale, one million devices would be required to remove one billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. According to the U.K. Treasury's Stern Review on climate change, the world will need to reduce carbon emissions by 11 billion tons by 2025 in order to maintain a concentration of carbon dioxide at twice pre-industrial levels. "

        So we need to absorb 11,000,000,000 tonnes per year.

        Assume a tree planted today will weigh 50tonnes in 20 years time.
        So 1 tree absorbs 50/20 = 2.5tonnes/year.
        So we need 11,000,000,000 / 2.5 = 4,400,000,000 or 4 billion trees.

        1 tree needs say a square of sides 3 meters, or 9 meters square.

        A total land area of 4x9 billion square meters = 36billion square meters = 14,000 square miles, or just over one Belgium in old money.

        Seems doable, we don't need Belgium, and the US can chip in a Wales to make up the shortfall.

    • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by XNormal (8617) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:10AM (#18881403) Homepage
      > 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.
  • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:16AM (#18881089) Homepage
    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.
    • by Goldsmith (561202)
      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.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)
        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 sequ
  • Dry ice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Craig Ringer (302899)
    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: (Score:2, Informative)

      Dry ice is usually made through chemical reactions that produce CO2.
    • Re:Dry ice (Score:5, Informative)

      by evanbd (210358) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:32AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Technician (215283)
        Dry Ice is a by-product of the air products industry. Air is cooled to condense it. Valuable gasses are fractionaly distilled out such as Oxygen, Argon, etc. CO2 is mostly a byproduct of the process. It is one of the reasons it is relatively cheap in bulk compaired to the other gasses. The bulk of air is Nitrogen. It is cheap enough to be used as a refrigerant in addition to being used for it's chemical properties.

        Argon is a valuable inert gass used in welding and manufacturing. Oxygen is valuable in
    • 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.
  • by SEWilco (27983) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:21AM (#18881113) Journal
    The article does not mention how much carbon needs to be burned to power the device.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fordiman (689627)
      Nor does it mention anything about how it works.

      Blueprints or it's bullshit!
      • by Rei (128717)
        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.
    • Nor how much CO2 it takes to produce this CO2 capturing device.
    • by Goalie_Ca (584234)
      It is a portable gas powered device. :D
    • But if we use nuclear power, we need no CO2 emissions to power it.

      *gasp* An environmental use for nuclear power??
    • by mrogers (85392) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @05:22AM (#18881979)
      Here's an academic paper [springerlink.com] by the designers of the system described in the article. Unfortunately the paper's only available to journal subscribers, but someone seems to have published it on Freenet [localhost], or you can find a preprint version here [centre-cired.fr]. From the paper:

      The minimum energy required to capture CO2 from the air at a partial pressure of 4×10^-4 atm and deliver it at one atmosphere is therefore about 20 kJ/mol or 1.6 GJ/tC (gigajoules per ton carbon). If we add the energy required for compressing the CO2 to the 100 atm pressure required for geological storage (assuming a 50% efficiency for converting primary energy to compressor work) the overall energy requirement for air capture with geologic sequestration is about 4 GJ/tC.

      The 4 GJ/tC minimum may be compared to the carbon-specific energy content of fossil fuels: coal, oil, and natural gas have about 40, 50, and 70 GJ/tC respectively. Thus if the energy for air capture is provided by fossil fuels then the amount of carbon captured from the air can in principle be much larger than the carbon content of the fuel used to capture it. The fuel carbon can, of course, be captured as part of the process rather than being emitted to the air.

  • It's a start... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Biff Stu (654099) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:28AM (#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.
    • by Calinous (985536)
      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... (Score:5, Informative)

        by interiot (50685) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:49AM (#18881297) Homepage

        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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mrogers (85392)
          There's a market for 11 billion tons of CO2??

          Ironically, one of the biggest markets for CO2 is oil extraction: you pump CO2 into a dying well to force out the last of the oil. (Air is unsafe for obvious reasons.) Afterwards you leave the CO2 underground in the same chambers that previously held the oil, so you get sequestration for free. From the press release: For example, the CO2 originating from all those vehicles in Bangkok can be captured in an oil field in Alberta, Canada, where it could be used on

  • by Meph_the_Balrog (796101) <[obsidian.gargoyle] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:30AM (#18881171) Homepage
    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.
    • by gardyloo (512791)

      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?
    • by delt0r (999393)

      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 wan

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hal_Porter (817932)
      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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:02AM (#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.
  • How it Works (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrcaseyj (902945) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:02AM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mrcaseyj (902945)
      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 m
  • 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?
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • by msevior (145103) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:10AM (#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?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bakuun (976228)

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

      Plants die eventually. And when they do, they release the carbon dioxide again - that is why plants and bio-fuel are said to be carbon-neutral

      Being able to extract carbon dioxide from the air and store it - for instance, in crevices deep in the ground (just like the oil we are so merrily pumping up!), will actually reduce the levels, though.

      However, it would be more efficient and more interesting to apply this technique to power plants. Coal is really cheap, everybody knows that (besides which, there

  • by ars (79600) <assd2@@@dsgml...com> on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:21AM (#18881449) Homepage
    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.
    • by physicsnick (1031656) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:46AM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by w3woody (44457)

      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.
  • ...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?

  • by brunascle (994197) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @06:59AM (#18882419)
    and once you capture the CO2, you can use it to make gasoline [technologyreview.com].

    ;-)
  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @08:37AM (#18883033) Homepage Journal
    It is important to remember that this is an added cost to the price of fuel. The cost, maybe $0.30/gal is not so large that it looks like a killer, but you can't make money from this without making this connection. To go beyond just compensating for emissions and beginning to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations requires further cash input. So, perhaps you require each pound of coal used to pay for 8 pounds of CO2 sequestered and that raises electric rates by 4 cents per kWh. Pretty soon you put coal generation out of business since renewables will fill in.

    I think that what we should call this is potentially commercially feasable and reserve viability for things that increase economic activity.
    --
    Solar power for what you pay for coal power: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

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