February 2008

Synthetic tree gobbles CO2

This is no maple tree. This apparatus would extract carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air using liquid sodium hydroxide and converts it to sodium carbonate as the wind rushes over it. 

After a series of further chemical reactions, the carbon would exit the sodium carbonate forming a CO2 concentrate that would store under ground.

A leafy maple tree captures a ton of CO2 a century. Klaus Lackner's plastic tree captures 90,000 tons per year.

Columbia Magazine reported efforts to control global warming have focused largely on protecting forests and limiting the use of fossil fuels, which produce greenhouse gases such as CO2

Klaus Lackner, the Maurice Ewing and J. Lamar Worzel Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University in New York, is on the forefront of a complementary approach, commonly called carbon sequestration. It involves capturing and storing CO2 by technological means. He is helping to develop a synthetic tree he said could absorb nearly 90,000 tons of CO2 a year, about the amount emitted annually by 15,000 cars. It would stand more than 300 feet tall and 180 feet wide and look like a huge football goalpost with venetian blinds between its uprights.

Lackner began developing the technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1990s with chemist Patrick Grimes and physicist Hans J. Ziock. The colleagues together founded Global Research

Technologies in 2004 to build a prototype.  Whereas most methods of carbon sequestration involve capturing CO2 before it enters the atmosphere, such as at power plants, Lackner's synthetic tree  promises the advantage of catching CO2 that emanates from any source.