University of Calgary climate change scientist David Keith and his team are working to efficiently capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide directly from the air, using near-commercial technology.
In research conducted at the U of C, Keith and a team of researchers showed it is possible to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) the main greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming using a relatively simple machine that can capture the trace amount of CO2 present in the air at any place on the planet.
"At first thought, capturing CO2 from the air where it's at a concentration of 0.04 per cent seems absurd, when we are just starting to do cost-effective capture at power plants where CO2 produced is at a concentration of more than 10 per cent," says Keith, Canada Research Chair in Energy and Environment.
"But the thermodynamics suggests that air capture might only be a bit harder than capturing CO2 from power plants. We are trying to turn that theory into engineering reality."
The research is significant because air capture technology is the only way to capture CO2 emissions from transportation sources such as vehicles and airplanes. These so-called diffuse sources represent more than half of the greenhouse gases emitted on Earth.
"The climate problem is too big to solve easily with the tools we have," notes Keith, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy's (ISEEE) Energy and Environmental Systems Group and a professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.
"While it's important to get started doing things we know how to do, like wind power nuclear power and 'regular' carbon capture and storage, it's also vital to start thinking about radical new ideas and approaches to solving this problem."
Energy-efficient and cost-effective air capture could play a valuable role in complementing other approaches for reducing emissions from the transportation sector, such as biofuels
|Contact: Mark Lowey|
University of Calgary