This is a guest post by Meg Hamill, a freelance writer, also working at the environmental non-profit LandPaths in Sonoma County, California
This summer at the University of Calgary in Canada, great strides were made in an air capture system, built to filter CO2 emissions from diffuse sources.
Professor David Keith, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy’s (ISEEE) at the University of Calgary, and his team, captured CO2 directly from the air using less than 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity per ton of CO2.
Their custom-built tower captured the equivalent of about 20 tons per year of CO2 on a single square meter of scrubbing material. To put this in context: It’s about the average amount of emissions that one person would produce in a year in North America. The team’s hope and belief is that this technology can easily be perfected and made more efficient.
The air capture technology being researched at the University of Calgary, is significant, as it is said to be the only way to capture CO2 emissions from polluters such as cars and airplanes. These CO2 sources are referred to as “diffuse” sources, and make up about half of the greenhouse gases emitted on earth.
Air capture is unique from carbon capture because it uses technology that can capture CO2 regardless of where the capture system is located. Air capture systems can catch the CO2 that is present in ambient air everywhere whereas traditional carbon capture systems are usually found at the site of a major carbon emitter such as a factory.
“The climate problem is too big to solve easily with the tools we have,” says Keith. “While it’s important to get started doing things we know how to do, like wind power nuclear power and ‘regular’ carbon capture and storage, it’s also vital to start thinking about radical new ideas and approaches to solving this problem.”
Keith and his air capture research discussed above, are featured in an episode of Discovery Channel’s new “Project Earth” series. “Project Earth” has the largest budget of any television series in Discovery Channel’s history. Keith’s episode has already aired in the U.S. and is available on Discovery Channel’s website. Click on “Episodes.”