Exploring Carbon Removal Tech to Fight Climate Change

Exploring Carbon Removal Tech to Fight Climate Change
26 Jan 2020
Environment > Exploring Carbon Removal Tech to Fight Climate Change

A technology that removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air is receiving significant attention from major fossil fuel companies, in the hopes of mitigating the risks of climate while creating economic value.

Considering how CO2 is one of several greenhouse gases responsible for trapping heat and causing global warming, the carbon removal technology was endorsed by environmental scientists in their final call to save the world from "climate catastrophe," published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Carbon Engineering is one of few companies developing a technology that uses a combination of giant fans and complex chemical processes to remove carbon dioxide from the air, in a procedure known as Direct Air Capture, CNBC reported.

The process starts with sucking in the air while exposing it to a chemical solution that concentrates the CO2. The gas can then be purified into a form that can be stored or utilized as a liquid fuel, the BBC wrote.

While Direct Air Capture is not a novel innovation, the technology has advanced enough for it to finally make financial sense, according to Carbon Engineering.

The company partnered with oil giants like Chevron, BHP, and Occidental to bring the tech to market, by using the captured carbon to make synthetic fuels and help extract more oil from the ground.

More recently, oil and gas giant ExxonMobil has reached a deal with carbon removal startup Global Thermostat "to advance breakthrough technology that can capture and concentrate carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources, including power plants, and the atmosphere."

"The companies will evaluate the potential scalability of Global Thermostat's carbon capture technology for large industrial use. If technical readiness and scalability are established, pilot projects at ExxonMobil facilities could follow," ExxonMobil said in a press release.

"Our scientists see potential in this exciting technology that could lead to more affordable methods to reduce emissions in power generation and manufacturing, along with removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," said Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.

While some energy experts believe that carbon removal is an integral component to the transition to a low carbon future, environmentalists remain warry that this technology could be used to extend the fossil fuel era, and may contradict with efforts to reduce carbon footprint.

The MIT Technology Review explained, "Direct air capture can potentially offer energy companies a way to offset climate emissions from other parts of their operations, or simply to generate positive marketing or publicity."

The technology "can also provide a source for enhanced oil recovery operations, a process that injects CO2 into wells to free up additional oil."



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