Carbon Engineering Aims To Reduce Carbon Dioxide In The Atmosphere

Interesting Engineering

carbon engineering fans

[Image Source: Carbon Engineering]

With carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rising, the world looks for a solution other than increasing the time it takes to get to work, the grocery store or the next family vacation. Carbon Engineering aims to solve that problem by pulling carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere.  Carbon Engineering is a independent Canadian company founded in 2009 and funded by private investors including Bill Gates and Murry Edwards. Below is a graphic that depicts a current solution to reducing carbon in the atmosphere. This includes capturing carbon directly from buildings that emit carbon dioxide which is easier since the concentration is so high. These systems are also not feasible for transportation vehicles since vehicles are not stationary.

traditional carbon storage[Image Source: Carbon Engineering]

Fans have been designed to pull ambient air and then push it through corrugated PVC sheets. These sheets will have a capture solution supplied from the top and pulled down by gravity. The carbon dioxide then reacts with the capture solution forming a carbonate salt and is collected at the bottom with excess solution. This process is shown in the graphic below. If the only need is to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere the the process would stop here but, Carbon Engineering is also working on using this carbon to create hydrocarbons.

CE diagram[Image Source: Carbon Engineering]

The carbon dioxide will be harvested using a paper membrane to separate the carbon dioxide from the capture solution. The capture solution will be recycled into the system and the carbon dioxide will be used for other purposes explained in the next paragraph. The energy required in the separation of the of the carbonate salt comes from renewable energy including natural gas, wind and nuclear and any carbon dioxide produced in the production of energy will be fed through the system.

CE process

[Image Source: Carbon Engineering]

The carbon dioxide that has been isolated is meant to react with hydrogen provided from electrolysis. Electrolysis requires electricity which will be provided with renewable energies and like before, any carbon dioxide produced will be entered directly into the system. The processing of carbon dioxide and hydrogen is meant to produce hydrocarbons which can be used in current technologies that require them. The cycle then repeats itself when carbon dioxide is release in the atmosphere and then absorbed by the system.

CE process 2[Image Source: Carbon Engineering]

Trees may seem like a more "green" solution but this process will require 1,000 times less area and the beauty of the system is that it can be placed where trees do not have the ability to grow. While an ideal placement of this system would seem to be in a zone with not much plant life, there is still a need for water to provide the hydrogen and if this would take place in the desert for example, systems for pulling water out of the air or ground would be necessary as well.