In 2011 the American Physical Society estimated the cost of pulling a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere to be $600. A new study, based on the analysis of a pilot CO2-extraction plant that's been in operation since 2015, says the price has dropped to between US$94 and $232 a tonne, which "suggests that the geoengineering technology is inching closer to commercial viability," reports Nature.
“It’s great to see human ingenuity marshalling around a problem that at first pass seemed to be intractable,” says Stephen Pacala, co-director of the carbon-mitigation initiative at Princeton University in New Jersey. Pacala also credits the Carbon Engineering team for publishing its results. “They have a proprietary interest in the technology, and nonetheless, they put out a readable and reviewable paper for sceptics to look at,” he says.
Carbon Engineering’s design blows air through towers that contain a solution of potassium hydroxide, which reacts with CO2 to form potassium carbonate. The result, after further processing, is a calcium carbonate pellet that can be heated to release the CO2. That CO2 could then be pressurized, put into a pipeline and disposed of underground, but the company is planning instead to use the gas to make synthetic, low-carbon fuels. Keith says that the company can produce these at a cost of about $1 per litre. When Carbon Engineering configured the air-capture plant for this purpose, they were able to bring costs down to as low as $94 per tonne of CO2.
Image: Artist's rendering of Carbon Engineering's design for system that pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Credit: Carbon Engineering
Here’s some promising eco-news: A simple scientific experiment tweaked the ecosystem of a California farm, and the soil began capturing tons of carbon from the atmosphere. The experiment began in 2007, when some Californian farmers collaborated with some ecologists. They wanted to enrichen the soil so that it’d grow grasses and plants that trap more […]
In Potentially dangerous consequences for biodiversity of solar geoengineering implementation and termination (published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, Sci-Hub mirror), a group of cross-institutional US climate scientists model what would happen if human embarked upon a solar geoengineering project to mitigate the greenhouse effect by aerosolizing reflective particles into the atmosphere, then gave up on […]
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