Artificial Trees for Synthetic CO2 Capture?

This entry was posted by Wednesday, 10 February, 2010
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I’m sure you have heard of the technology in which artificial trees are used for capturing CO2. I can hear you asking, “Why do we need artificial trees when we can grow natural trees?”. Fair enough, but let’s try to understand these artificial trees folks have to say.

A new “air extractor” technology presented by Klaus Lackner, a professor of Geophysics at Columbia’s Earth Institute, absorbs carbon dioxide from any location on the planet. Airplane emissions can be captured next to the runway, or China’s emissions can be captured on the coasts of Los Angeles! At least, that’s the spiel.

The design of the tree is not finalized, but Lackner predicts that the device would look more like a post with venetian blinds strung across it; a box-shaped extractor raised about 1,000 feet tall, adorned with scaffolding lined with liquid sodium hydroxide (commonly known as lye). When exposed, sodium hydroxide (lye) is an absorbent of CO2. So, as air flows through the venetian blind “leaves of the tree”, the sodium hydroxide will bind the CO2, sifting out cleaner, about 70-90% less CO2 concentrated air on the other side.

No doubt, all these are interesting concepts. But at the end of day, we back to the same old questions of cost, performance and energy required. The artificial tree concept is of course right now very short on details, but it will be interesting to watch that space.

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One Response to “Artificial Trees for Synthetic CO2 Capture?”

  1. what are the advantages and dissadvantages of artificial co2 capture trees? how much would a co2 capture tree cost?


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