Thursday, February 04, 2010

Will CO2 Catchers Start Catching On?

With hopes of avoiding catastrophic climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions rapidly fading it is getting time to look at what to do as a last resort. If there is any feasible last resort it may be employing millions of CO2 catchers to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and then probably store it underground. One major obstacle is that successful working models of these devices do not yet exist. The big problem is that while capturing CO2 is not difficult it tends to take a lot of energy to release it once it has been captured, which basically makes such a device impractical. However, there are reports that this major hurdle may be close to being solved. A Columbia University research team led by Klaus Lackner has been working with a synthetic resin which according to Lackner in an article posted on Spiegel Online International “attracts CO2 strongly when dry, but releases it again easily when wet.” and “the process produces only about a fifth as much CO2 as the device collects.” He estimates that to offset between 10 and 15 percent of annual emissions would require 10 million CO2 catchers. A blog on Grist reports that researchers in the Netherlands have developed a copper-based catalyst that can capture CO2 and then release it in a different form using relatively little energy. News of this discovery was reported in the January 15th issue of the journal Science. So if a landscape filled with wind turbines and solar panels isn’t enough to save us from global warming perhaps adding millions of CO2 catchers will do the trick.

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