Food for Thought: An Artificial Tree to Remove CO2 from the Atmosphere

Reducing carbon dioxide emission is an enormous task, removing it from the atmosphere at low cost anywhere in the world maybe much more efficient and easier to accomplish (and faster!).

Imagine a bottle brush where all the bristles are artificial leaves – that‘s exactly the device Klaus S. Lackner, Director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University has developed.

The idea goes back to his daughter Claire who at school in an eighth grade science fair project demonstrated that carbon dioxide can be captured from the air in an acid/base reaction, simply by using a fish tank pump and sodium hydroxide. Actually, the simple device removed half of the carbon dioxide that ran through the apparatus.

The success struck her father who founded Global Research Technologies LLC (GRT) and within a year developed the bottle brush resembling device.

GRT‘s ACCESS™ air-capture system simply collects CO2 on a proprietary sorbent and later releases it again, while cleaning and pressurizing the gas to meet the specifications of CO2 storage or end-use. The GRT air-capture system is about one thousand times more efficient than a tree of equal size, in large part because the GRT collector does not need to capture sunlight. Its “leaves” can be packed tightly without concern over shading, and the system will function 24 hours a day. The CO2 harvested is removed from the sorbent and stored or used for a range of already existing commercial applications.

The CO2 balance is quite favorable, Lackner claims, with production and processing using only 1/5th of the CO2 amount that is being absorbed. He estimates the costs at the beginning to be $300 per ton of CO2 which might be reduced to $30 per ton with mass production.