ASU Partners To Launch World's First Commercially Viable Carbon Capture Technology

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 5:05am
Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 9:01am

A Dublin-based company plans to erect “mechanical trees” in the U.S. that will suck carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. The technology is an effort by one company to thwart climate change and is part of a partnership with Arizona State University and professor Klaus Lackner, director of ASU’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions.

Silicon Kingdom Holdings (SKH) will build 1,200 carbon-cleansing metal columns within a year. That's after testing its product in Arizona over the last two years. Professor Klaus Lackner invented the technology.

The company says it hopes to capture CO2 more cheaply than other methods, and that its new production will be able to absorb nearly 8,000 cars’ worth of emissions per year of CO2. Unlike other carbon capture technologies, SKH’s technology can remove CO2 from the atmosphere without the need to draw air through the system mechanically, using energy intensive devices. Instead, the technology uses the wind to blow air through the system. This makes it passive, relatively low-cost and scalable, so, commercially viable. The technology could lead to significant reductions in the levels of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere, helping to combat global warming, according to preliminary testing.

Carbon capture is gradually gaining momentum, with the United Nations saying in a report last year that the technology is likely needed to keep the rise in global temperatures below catastrophic levels.

Silicon Kingdom Holdings plans to then process the captured CO2 into a compound that can be sold for use in industrial applications, including making drinks fizzy, creating fuel and extracting oil.

The company's two-year pilot, possibly in California, is estimated to capture about 36,500 metric tons of CO2 a year, the equivalent of nearly 7,750 vehicles driven for a year. Full-scale farms would be 100 times bigger.

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