Discussions around global warming have been growing more urgent in recent years. Reducing CO2 emissions is imperative to prevent an increase in global temperature, which will have disastrous implications for the planet.
This cause – dubbed project Net-Zero globally – has prompted many large corporations and companies to think of new methods of reducing their carbon footprint. Carbon Collect Limited – an Irish company specialising in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – has pioneered an alternative that could prove fruitful in removing CO2 from the atmosphere: mechanical trees that mimic real trees.
Carbon Capture and Storage – What is it?
A CCS system is designed to capture carbon dioxide molecules in the atmosphere after which they are stored to be reused later. Here’s how it could work in the form of mechanical trees.
A large cylindrical structure composed out of sorbent tiles collects CO2 and ambient air from the atmosphere. Once saturated with CO2, the top of the structure collapses down into the chamber at the base of the cylinder. There, CO2 is extracted and stored. Once the storage process is complete, the structure extends to the top again, almost like the inflation and deflation of a balloon, and restarts the cycle.
The carbon is then permanently buried underground through sequestration. A mechanical tree extends up to 10 metres into the air. For a more illustrative guide on how they work, click here.
Mechanical trees would essentially perform the same task as organic trees, only supposedly 1000 times more efficient than one real tree, according to Futuria.
Air is collected passively into the cylinder and does not require any other technology to assist in this: it is propelled by the wind. This makes it cheaper than other companies that specialise in CCS.
The stored carbon dioxide can be used as an alternative to commercial CO2 produced from fossil fuels in products like inert gas in welding and fire extinguishers, the process of oil recovery, soda drinks and more.
While this seems like a good idea on paper, the question is whether or not it would be effective in practice. This structure can be erected anywhere, but the costs are extravagant. To store a ton of CO2 at this stage can cost as much as R7,200, whereas using natural trees costs approximately only R150 per ton.
This means that countries that do not have the funds for these technologies, will simply not have access to it, making them highly privatised.
Moreover, manufacturing costs are high, and the carbon footprint related to production is not sure.
For more information on Carbon Collect Limited, click here.
Picture: Koushik Das/Unsplash